How to Host a Dinner Party
We believe great hosts are made not born. All that’s required is the desire to welcome friends into your home. Our easy dinner party ideas can help with the rest.
Choose a Theme
Start by narrowing your focus. After you choose a theme, your dinner party ideas have a place from which to take root.
For example, a dinner party designed around a single main dish, such as pizza, could be served buffet-style and include a portion of the evening when guests are welcomed into the kitchen to help choose toppings for the pies. The choice of a hands-on pizza party informs everything from meal setup and seating arrangement to the required linens. In this case, add plenty of aprons to your list.
On the opposite end of the spectrum would be an awards dinner inspired by the year’s best films complete with printed menus, place cards and assigned seating, formal dinnerware, and a multi-course meal. Despite the very apparent differences between the parties, they both get at the same thing: dining is an experience best enjoyed together.
Prep The Menu
First, choose a main dish that connects to your theme. Instead of searching through your cookbooks for a new recipe, select one you know well and have made before—preferably to acclaim. A dinner party idea does not need to be new to be a hit.
From there, build out the rest of your menu to complement your main course. When choosing the side dishes, consider ones that can be made in advance of the evening. Even the most seasoned at-home cooks agree that one simple last-minute dish is more than enough when managing a house full of guests.
The same thing applies at the bar. While it’s important to make sure your bar is stocked with all of the essentials, we suggest offering your guests a premixed signature cocktail that ties into your theme.
After you’ve set the menu, create a timeline to help schedule the day of your party. Include everything from dishes that need to be cooked and warmed, to putting out appetizers, to preparing the dessert table. While you shouldn’t feel tied to the schedule, having one can help a host relax into the evening.
Set the Table
If you’ve decided to host a sit down dinner, set the tables a day or two before the party. Having the tablecloths draped, the napkins folded, and all of the dishes, flatware, and glasses in place will allow you to focus on the edible details.
If your soiree is a casual gathering with a buffet, stack the plates, glasses, and flatware at the front end of the buffet the night before your gathering. A unique dinner party idea is to wrap the flatware in a napkin and place both inside the drinking glass to help guests keep a handle on the silverware while going through the buffet line.
When choosing your serving pieces, consider coordinating platters, bowls, and serving dishes so that the presentation is cohesive. We like an all-white palette that lets the food be the star. Additionally, the night before the party make sure you have the correct serving utensils for each dish by placing them next to (or inside) the actual serving piece.
The day of the party, fill glass vessels and vases with fresh flowers. When it comes to blooms, don’t just adorn the dining or buffet tables. Think beautiful low centerpieces on coffee tables, small bud vases with flowers on side tables, and a fresh bouquet alongside hand towels in the powder room.
Use music to welcome your guests. Set your playlist ahead of time and press play. Consider selecting music that matches the theme or time your playlist selections so that the music ebbs and flows with the evening.
Make sure there are plenty of appetizers to go around. If your guests end up congregating in a room where you haven’t placed finger food, bring the apps to your guests.
Finally, relax and engage your company. Spend time with your guests, get lost in conversation, and savor the delicious meal. After all, the best kind of host is one who can enjoy their own party.
What’s your favorite way to entertain? Share your dinner party tips with us by using the hashtag #CrateStyle.
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