Guest post written by Tali Wee of Zillow
Hosting friends for an intimate dinner gathering is always exciting to look forward to, but sometimes the planning and the chaos of a full house can be stressful. But thorough preparations can melt a host’s stress and lead to a seamless and successful dinner party!
Consider these six tips for throwing a smooth and memorable dinner party.
While not always necessary, incorporating a theme into the dinner party simplifies subsequent steps in the planning process. For instance, a holiday dinner party is perfect for peppermint-infused cocktails and slow-roasted turkey. Planning on throwing a party during the non-holiday season? Incorporate less obvious themes, such as a casino-inspired evening. Decorate sugar cookies to look like poker chips and use playing cards as place cards. To keep the Las Vegas vibe buzzing, entertain guests with games and prizes. For Los Angeles homeowners, a Hollywood-themed party complete with a red carpet, star-shaped place cards and popcorn is another good option. Committing to a theme early on eases the tough decisions for food, beverages and décor but also inspires guests to dress the part.
Preparing a guest list is not always easy. Hosts and hostesses often worry about leaving individuals out and unintentionally hurting their feelings. Select the guest list thoughtfully, beginning with size considerations. Dinner parties should be intimate gatherings of around eight to 12 people. Also make sure friends who are notorious for creating drama are not present. Presumably alcohol is served, and the last thing needed after all the hard work in planning and preparing is an argument at the table.
While sending out paper invites in the mail is traditional, it’s faster and more eco-friendly to send invitations online. Consider websites like Paperless Post for well-designed electronic invitations. Further, web-based invites are great for guests who are on-the-go. When the party date rolls around, guests can reference their emails for the event address and avoid bothering the host. Guests always have access to e-vites, while hardcopy invites are easy to misplace or forget at home.
It isn’t necessary to assign seats for guests, but sometimes it is a good idea. For instance, out of town guests may feel most comfortable together or near the most outgoing and social guests. Placing a new friend at the end of the table can cause them to feel excluded. Recall the phrase, “I knew those two would hit it off!” Place friends with similar interests or complementary personalities next to each other to build relationships. It may even spark a romance!
Food and Drink:
An important step in planning is to confirm guests don’t have dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy intolerance. If a few guests are prone to food-based allergies, a good idea may be to offer alternative dishes. While catering the meal for one person’s diet isn’t practical, consider baking gluten-free cookies for dessert or a non-dairy entrée. If the party is a potluck dinner, remind other attendees about guests’ allergies to prompt mindfulness of ingredients.
The ambience of the dinner party should be friendly and relaxed. Therefore, choose music that allows for conversation without yelling across the table. If there isn’t enough time to download a playlist for background music, use Pandora for slow pop or jazz radio. With auto playlists, hosts don’t have to worry about their musical biases and improve their chances of satisfying the majority of the company.
Follow these steps to ensure a classy and inviting dinner soiree, no matter what time of year.