After the past year and a half we’ve had I think we can all agree how important it is to spend time with family + friends. Those in-person connections provide a certain amount of happiness the just can’t be fulfilled in any other way.
One of my favorite ways to spend quality time with my family + friends is by hosting a dinner party. There’s just something special about breaking bread with people amongst a beautifully set table that just makes my soul feel full. I get so much satisfaction being the reason it all comes together. But I know how overwhelming a dinner party can seem. And if you’ve never hosted one before, I know it may seem like a task that you aren’t able to conquer, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over the years I’ve been able to learn a few tricks that make the process easier, so I wanted to share them with you with hopes that it will give you the confidence to host your first dinner party, or help you master the art!
1. Set the table the night before or several hours ahead of time.
One thing I’ve learned is that on event days time flies. It doesn’t matter how early you start prepping that day, or how much you’ve done in advance, the day of will zoom right past you. So instead of taking the chance of not being ready when your guests begin to arrive, or stressing yourself out so much that you end up not enjoying yourself, try to set the table in advance. If you’re hosting inside, set your table up the night before. If you plan on having an outdoor dinner, set up as much as you can that morning then just go back and fluff as you get closer to the start time. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you did!
2. Pay close attention to your table setting details.
Attention to detail is what will make your table setting memorable! Take time to think about what you’ll use and how they’ll all tie together. Don’t settle for boring plates, glasses, or utensils. This is your time to show your style + personality. I love using special glassware by Estelle Colored Glass because it makes such a statement on the table. These beautiful, classic plate chargers are by VIETRI. And I was recently introduced to unique tableware accessories by Chefanie. In this tablescape I’m using their pressed flower napkin rings, but really love that they offer fashion accessories to match their table accessories (I’m wearing these earrings) which just takes attention to detail to an entirely new level!
3. Use cookware that can double as servingware.
This may go against everything you’ve ever learned, but its ok to cut corners so that you can save time! One of the best ways to do that is to use cookware that can double as servingware. Not only will this save time while prepping, you’ll have less dishes to wash at the end of the meal. I’m such a fan of any pot, pan or bakeware that’s beautiful enough to be set out on a buffet table, or even the actual dinner table. Most people are familiar with Le Creuset, which I do love, but I was recently introduced to the Always Pan by Our Place and I’m seriously obsessed. Not only is this pan versatile enough to replace 8 traditional pieces of cookware, it comes in the chicest colors that will match any theme you can dream up. When I made this meal I simply transferred the pan to the table and it fit in effortlessly!
4. Serve a meal that you’ve perfected, or just have it catered!
A dinner party is not the night to try something new! To avoid stress choose a dish that you’ve made a million times and have basically perfected. If you’re insisting on serving something new, try making it at least twice before the actual event. This will just save you from any surprises that can (and will) arise when cooking. Also, don’t be ashamed to get help. If cooking isn’t your thing, but gathering people is, hire a caterer or pick up food from your favorite restaurant and serve it! Just make sure it’s fresh + hot when it’s time for everyone to eat.
5. Invite a variety of people for more interesting conversation.
To keep the party interesting, invite a variety of people. Instead of simply choosing a group of people that all already know one another and spend a lot of time together, opt for a group of people that may not know each other quite well (unless of course you’re celebrating a specific special occasion). This will lend itself to more unexpected conversation and give everyone the feeling of experiencing something different + new… despite being in a location they may all know very well.
6. Start the evening with a special welcome beverage.
When guests arrive, have a special beverage (cocktail or mocktail) to start things off. Not only with this distract them for a little while and give you some extra time for any last minute prep (as someone is almost guaranteed to arrive early), it also gives everyone the chance to break the ice (especially if you’ve taken my advice from tip 6) and allow conversations to begin before everyone is seated.
7.Pick a theme and stick with it!
Going back to the attention to detail, when you’re planning a dinner party (or any party tbh) choose a them and stick with it. This theme doesn’t have to be super specific or even literal, but if you give yourself something to coordinate around it will make decisions a lot easier. Possible themes could be: a color, a region/location, a holiday, a fruit/veggie, even an animal or countless other things. Let your imagine get as wild as you can take it!
8. Be sure to offer dessert, coffee and tea after the meal.
Often times conversations don’t end when the meal does, and while having cocktails + wine as an option is nice, it’s also a great idea to offer your guests desserts as well as coffee or hot tea. This creates the feeling of a proper conclusion and allow things to naturally come to an end without you having to worry about entertaining after the meal.
Do you enjoy hosting friends + family? Share your tips below. OR, leave any questions you may have about hosting your first dinner party!