A dinner party is one of my absolute favorite ways to entertain. Filling our home with friends while enjoying a delicious meal, drinks, and most importantly, great conversation is my idea of fun. It’s typically calmer than meeting at a crowded restaurant and it’s the perfect opportunity to add a personal touch.
It’s been few minutes (years) since I hosted a real dinner party. Recently, our parties center around our toddler, birthdays, or holiday gatherings. We skip the formalities and enjoy food while standing or sitting cross-legged on the lawn. I love our relaxed get togethers, but this time I wanted a more elevated experience for us and our guests.
Years of event planning taught me that organization is everything. If you can nail the prep work and all upfront labor, you can relax and truly enjoy. Here’s a checklist to get you started:
- Begin by compiling your guest list and creating an invitation. If you haven’t discovered the wizardry of www.canva.com, now is the time to check it out. It’s an easy-to-use tool for a wide variety of design purposes. I’ve used it to design social media posts, marketing fliers and in-store signage. In this case, I used it to design a thoughtful invitation.
- Select a defining color palette will help you set the tone for all décor decisions, invitation design and even the framework of your menu. Fortunately, I had the exact color in mind. Celina Mancurti’s truffle linen napkins with delicate pink trim. It’s the perfect fall shade and I knew I wanted to pair them with her leather napkin rings to keep it modern and elegant.
- Determine the menu well in advance. Make sure to find out of any dietary restrictions ahead of time and craft a menu that is seasonal and approachable. Consider your guests and try to make the menu one that everyone will appreciate. I do not excel at cooking and would never make something that I hadn’t prepared several times before. However, if you are a seasoned chef this is a great time to show off your kitchen skills. It helps to map out all the courses ahead of time in order to determine appropriate timing. Make sure you have access to all ingredients before you commit – it can be difficult to find certain seasonal items.
- Create a unique tabescape. Due to the rich color of the napkins, I decided to keep the rest of the table decor neutral with accents of gold. To add interest, I included a variety of pieces with different sizes and textures. The vintage urns and Farmhouse Pottery candlesticks gave it a slightly rustic feel that complimented the formal china. The traditional scalloped dishes and the gold flatware are the elegant finish I was looking for. It made sure none of the décor impeded sight lines or the flow of conversation. It’s so much fun letting your creative juices flow!
- Music and photography are very important. Music sets people at ease and it fills the space with mood. We often forget to take photos when we are busy. Try to take a couple of shots before guests arrive and then a couple of action shots while everyone is sipping and chatting. You can even politely ask one of your guests if they wouldn’t mind snapping a few in case it slips your mind.
- Once you’ve captured a few memorable moments, set your phone aside and have fun! Celebrate all your hard work and make some lasting memories.