Dinner parties are about eating good food and spending time with your friends. They don’t need to be elaborate or fancy and they definitely should not be stressful. We love to throw dinner parties, but like anything the more you throw them the better you get at it. We have had plenty of nights where things did not go to plan, but with a little organization you can create an evening everyone will enjoy.
Determine the menu. You don’t have to cook everything. Don’t be afraid to pick up dishes or dessert from your favorite places or even order take out! If you do cook, make sure the meal is not too time consuming. Do as much as you can before the guests arrive, as you don’t want to spend the whole party in the kitchen!
Set the table. We always set the table early in the afternoon on the day of a dinner party. We love to arrange flowers, but for most parties we do very simple arrangements. If flowers are not your thing there are so many great ways to make your table pretty with candles, fun napkins or even a bowl of fruit. Even if you are having a very casual dinner party, place cards or napkin rings can also be a fun way to decorate your table. We love using gift tags as place cards. A single flower, a pretty leaf or even a lemon can make a place setting look fabulous.
Be ready. When the guests arrive have appetizers out, drinks available and music playing. You want your guests to feel comfortable when they walk in the door and feel at home. If you are having a buffet make sure the serving platters and utensils are out so you are not scrambling to find them when dinner is ready.
Set the tone. Dinner parties should be fun. If your guests walk in and you are in panic mode, they will feel uncomfortable. Most of our dinner parties are very casual and we try to create a relaxed environment. If you are having fun then your guests will have fun too!
Timing. People like to settle in a bit before sitting down for dinner. Time your meal to be ready 45 minutes to an hour after your guests arrive. That way they will have time to have a cocktail, an appetizer and talk to the other guests. This also works as a great buffer for any late arrivals.
Clean up after the party. We are usually too tired to get the house back in pristine condition (as if it is ever pristine!), but you will thank yourself if you run a load of dishes or rinse out wine glasses before you go to bed.
Hallman + Ashley