It’s that time of year again, and with it comes the need to host dinner parties for your friends and family. But entertaining a large group can be stressful if you don’t do it very often. There are so many details to think of —from table decor to the menu— that the thought of hosting can be overwhelming. So, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks on how to throw a successful dinner party—one that both you and your guests can enjoy from start to finish.
Keep it Casual
Gone are the days of formal dining rooms, fine china, crystal goblets, and candles. Not that there’s never a place for entertaining on that scale, but there’s no need to stress yourself out because you don’t have your mother’s china cabinet or a traditional dining room table. Do you have a large island in the kitchen or a classic farm table? Consider doing your dinner party buffet style. This lends itself to a much more casual atmosphere and allows you to have most of the food already out as people begin to arrive. This will mean less time “in the kitchen” and more time with your guests.
Dishes at one end of the table sends the message to your guests where they should begin. And having them pick up their napkins and silverware after they have chosen their food will prevent them from guessing what utensils they need, which will keep you from needlessly washing silverware. (After all, not everyone requires a teaspoon to eat their prime rib).
Of course, if you’re using your farm table for the buffet, your guests will need a place to eat. Something that has worked for me is renting a few high top tables. This keeps the dinner party casual, maximizes space, and gives your friends a place to put their plate and wine glass.
Pick a Color Scheme
Choosing a color is the fun part! I like to look for a fruit or vegetable in season. For example, pumpkins and other gourds are everywhere right now, so throwing a party in November makes me think—orange. I like to choose a few of these to decorate the center of the table or just scatter them around the food. Then head to the florist or supermarket and find flowers such as mums, lilies, and roses in a similar color scheme. I like to choose different flowers of varying shades of the same color for a whimsical, yet thoughtful, centerpiece. Or I can just fill a vase with fruits such as oranges, mandarins, or persimmons.
With a strong color like orange, keeping the tablecloth and napkins neutral helps to provide contrasting decor without the main color being too overwhelming. Whatever you choose to do, sticking with a seasonal, monochromatic color scheme can help take the guesswork and the stress out of decorating for your party.
Stock the Bar
When having a large dinner party, the last thing you want to worry about is getting stuck behind the bar mixing cocktails. So consider premixing a signature cocktail that your guests can serve themselves. If you’re really ambitious, this cocktail could go right along with your color scheme. Take a look at pinterest to get some ideas.
If you’re serving wine, choose a wine you know and love, and buy several bottles or a case—depending on the number of guests. Open a couple of bottles before your guests begin to arrive so that, again, they can serve themselves. Leave the corkscrew and some unopened bottles where the guests can see them so that they feel free to open another if necessary.
Plan Your Menu
This requires that you know your guests. So many are either gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, or Keto that you may need to ask ahead of time what dietary restrictions they may have. Nothing stresses a host or their guests more than wondering whether there will be anything on the table for them to eat. So make your guests feel welcomed and loved by making sure you have planned a menu suited to their needs. Again, Pinterest has a wealth of ideas for diets of all sorts. No matter what diet your guests are on, you’ll find something that will work for them.
Hosting a dinner party doesn’t have to be stressful, it just takes some planning and forethought. Serve your guests buffet style to keep it casual so that you can mingle; pick a seasonal color scheme to make decorating easy; premix a signature cocktail that your guests can serve themselves; and show your guests how much you care by taking their dietary needs into consideration. By planning ahead, you’ll be planning to succeed.
If you’d like help decorating your home so that you’re always ready to entertain in pure style, contact us here. We would love to assist you!