With so many thoughtful details that go into the evening, planning a dinner party is almost as exciting as the dinner party itself. From creating dinner party invitations to curating a specific menu, there are so many factors to consider. In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of the best tips for hosting a party that can often be overlooked. Become a dinner party pro with these simple, yet unexpected hosting tips below.
1. Candles are lovely
Candles are a simple yet elegant way of making any dinner party feel special. They provide your party with an instant ambiance. Beautiful, tapered candles and elegant candle holders look lovely on any dinner table. However, if you aren’t a fan of candle holders, you can go with a thick pillar candle. Candles are versatile, so just pick your favorite and light them!
2. Avoid stragglers
There’s no getting around the fact that there are some people in the world who live on a different concept of time than the rest of us. While it’s inevitable that your guests may run late, there are ways to help prevent stragglers. To combat this, you can note a firm start and end time on your invitations, so guests know that if they snooze, they lose. People are more inclined to be on time if they know they might be missing something.
3. Be specific with your timeline
If you’re wondering what to write in a dinner party invitation, outlining the timeline can be helpful for your guests. Not only can you make it clear what time the party ends, but you should be clear about other things as well, such as specifying that cocktail hour will be between 5 and 6 and dinner will begin promptly at 6:15. If guests know the timeline, then they will be more likely to show up when they are supposed to. Plus, if someone is running late, they know they are only missing cocktails and will still make it to dinner without barging in mid-meal.
4. Avoid menu experimentations
While it might sound intriguing to try that new recipe you’ve been dying to test out, if you’ve never made it before, save it for another night. For dinner parties, go with dishes that are tried and true and guaranteed to be a hit. It will be less stressful for you, and you can be sure that your guests will love a classic. However, if you want to switch things up a bit, you can always dress up basics like a salad by using edible flowers or pink radicchio. Little touches can have a big impact.
5. Hand off dessert to a guest
Since you’re providing the meal, it’s perfectly fine to ask a guest (or two) to bring a little something as a treat after dinner. Guests can bring pies, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, cupcakes, or something they specialize in baking, like banana pudding or raisin bread. By outsourcing dessert, you’ll save yourself a little time and give your guests an opportunity to pitch in on the fun.
6. Accommodate dietary restrictions
If you know one of your guests is a vegetarian or has a gluten intolerance, it’s a thoughtful consideration to provide a dish just for them. Dietary restrictions should be respected, and your guests will thank you for it if they are. Remember, it’s all about the thoughtful details that go into your dinner party that will make it a night to remember.
7. Order a case of vino
There’s nothing quite like a good bottle of wine, and if you order your favorite by the case, you’ll not only save money, but you’ll have plenty on hand for dinner. A nice glass of wine can help people relax and get the conversation rocking. If you don’t think your guests will enjoy wine, you can always provide another option, like beer or a spritz.
8. Don’t play bartender
While it can be tempting to want to make a signature mixed drink for the evening, the truth is, the goal is to relax and enjoy yourself. You can’t do that if you’re playing bartender and making drinks all night. If you’re not serving wine or beer, make something up ahead of time that sits well in a carafe, like these simple pitcher cocktail recipes, so everyone can serve themselves. You can even make a spiked punch bowl. The simpler, the better!
9. Switch up the flowers
Everyone does flowers. If you want to stand out, use herbs to spruce up your decor. You can cut herbs yourself and put them in pretty glass vessels, or cut and scatter them on the table, or even buy little herb pots to place in strategic locations. Many herbs smell lovely, which is a bonus. If you want some added color to your table decor, citrus fruits in decorative bowls will look lovely, too.
10. Cut back on the cheese
Cheese can be filling and expensive when feeding a crowd. Although many stray towards serving a cheese plate as the only appetizer, it may be smart to round out your choice of appetizers. You want to make sure your guests will still have plenty of room for dinner. For light appetizers, try placing out snacks like olives, spiced nuts, or pickled vegetables. Veggies and hummus can be a delicious hit as well.
11. Sub paper towels for cloth napkins
There are lots of places, like Ikea, where you can pick up inexpensive, festive dish towels and use those for napkins instead of paper towels. The nice part is you can later reuse them as dish towels too. Talk about double-duty!
12. Make your own tablecloth or runner
Purchase fabric by the yard and use it to make a tablecloth or runner. Choose a fabric that’s 24” wider and 24” longer than your table so the cut edge can’t be seen, or if you opt to make a table runner, fold it thin and iron the seams beneath it on either side so that it lays flat.
13. Curate an eclectic guest list
Part of the fun of a dinner party is meeting new people. As a host, you likely have friends from everywhere—work, childhood, mutual friends, etc. A dinner party is a great way to bring all of your favorite people together to get to know each other. After all, the more friends, the merrier. However, it may be a good idea to invite a carefully curated list of friends you think will get along and have a good time together.
14. Splurge on proper wine glasses
If you’re hosting a more formal dinner, then splurging on glasses might be a good idea. Elegant wine glasses that you pick up for your dinner party will not only make a lovely detail, but they can be used for future dinner parties to come. After all, you’ll never regret buying a nice set.
15. Give your party a theme
To make your dinner party extra memorable, you can incorporate a theme for the evening. Dinner party themes add an exciting twist and give you an opportunity to get creative with the invitations, decorations, menu, and drinks. If you really want to get into the spirit of your theme, you can ask your guests to come dressed accordingly.
Become a dinner party pro
Learning how to host a good party is simple, and by incorporating a few party tips and tricks like these, people will never suspect you weren’t always a pro. Not to mention, all of these tips for hosting will make your life easier and the night more enjoyable. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning for the perfect event with friends today!
At Paperless Post, you can create beautiful online invitations that will get your guests excited for your dinner party. With elegant designs and more casual, quirky cards to match any theme, you can customize your invitations to include all the wonderful details of your party. From potlucks and barbecues to taco nights and wine tastings, browse our full selection of dinner party invitations for your event.