As a general rule, the more fun you have in the kitchen, the better your food will be. Just as with anything, the more love you have for a task, the better you are at achieving it.
According to Good Food, the key to delicious meals is to create enjoyable actions. When you overwhelm yourself with difficult or unfamiliar tasks, cooking becomes stressful and when stress is in the kitchen, it shows on the plate. If you've never tried duck confit then don't try to serve it with an unfamiliar butter bean purée that will see you frazzled.
When hosting a dinner party, cook your tried and tested meals and steer clear of trying anything too fancy. A dish is never as good as it should be first time around and it takes practice to perfect.
As for the skills you need to help you along with great dishes, there are certain tasks you should familiarise yourself with:
Learn how to sauté – Different dishes call for different heats. For example, to make crispy and delicious duck you need to render the fat in the skin on low heat, whereas fish is better on high heat.
Learn how to braise – Braising locks in intense flavours and tenderness. It's a process of browning then tenderising in liquid for hours.
Learn how to roast – Learn both high-heat roasting and slow-roasting as both techniques have their benefits. Low and slow is perfect for meats such as pork shoulder, whereas high heat is ideal for a lovely rack of lamb.