How to plan a dinner party

Dinner parties are a fun way to gather with friends and family, share some good food and drinks, and simply enjoy each other’s company. If you’re thinking of planning a dinner party but don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a guide that will show you how to plan a dinner party at home without a hitch. From designing the perfect dinner party invitations to choosing a theme, you’ll find all you need to know with these dinner party planning tips below. Read on for our step-by-step guide.

1. Pick a date

 

The first steps of planning any party should include picking a date. Setting a date will give you an idea of how much time you have to plan out the rest of the details. It’s a good idea to decide on the date of your party as far in advance as possible—giving your guests plenty of time to clear their schedules for your event.

2. Make a guest list

 

When you’re deciding who to invite to your dinner party, consider how your friends and family will blend together. Try to invite people you think will get along well so that you can ensure everyone has a good time, including you! As you make your guest list, organize contact information in your Paperless Post address book so that when you send out your invitations, you have all the information you need in one place.

3. Pick a dinner party theme

Choosing a dinner party theme is a great way to up the excitement of a dinner party. Dinner party themes make it easy to design online invitations, select appropriate decor, decide on a dinner menu, and choose what kind of games to play. If you throw a Taco Tuesday dinner party, you can follow the theme for your menu, decor, and invitations. For example, you can set up a taco bar as the main course of the dinner party, serve margaritas as your signature cocktail, decorate with Taco-Tuesday inspired decor, and make invitations online to match the theme, like this festive Taco Fiesta card.

4. Send out invites 

When you send out your dinner party invitations, be sure to include all the important information for your guests to avoid any confusion. The last thing you want is a guest to miss half of the party because the start time wasn’t crystal clear. For what to write in a dinner party invitation, you should follow and answer the 5 W’s:

 

Who 

What

When

Where

Why

 

When you’re creating your invitations, don’t forget about the design. The design of your invitation speaks volumes about your upcoming party. Think of this invitation as a first impression of what guests can expect from your event. Will it be a formal dinner party? If so, choose a more formal invitation design. Will it be a more playful, casual get together with cocktails and potluck food? In this case, pick a fun design to get your guests excited. You can even incorporate your theme into your invitation. 

 

Pro-tip: A simple, and eco-friendly way to send out invitations is by sending online invitations. Online invitations save you the extra cost of paper and can be designed specifically to match your unique theme. Not to mention, a paper invite is a lot easier to lose than a digital invitation.

5. Plan your menu 

Whether you’re cooking for five people or 12 people, you have to decide on a menu for the evening. It’s always an excellent idea to provide more than one option for appetizers, entrees, and side dishes to give your guests variety. Remember to consider your guests dietary preferences when planning your menu. You might decide to serve something like a pot roast, only to remember that three of your guests are vegetarians. You might even have a few guests who have specific food allergies.

 

So, consider the people you are inviting to your dinner party, and prepare your menu accordingly. Not only will it make the evening more enjoyable, but it will also make your guests feel seen and appreciated that you thought of them when planning what dishes to serve. 

 

Note: Don’t forget dessert! A sweet treat is a great way to wrap up the evening. You can always ask your guests to bring a dessert of choice. This way, you have more time to prepare the main course.

6. Choose your cocktails (or mocktails)

Whether you decide to serve alcoholic beverages or not, you’ll want to make sure your guests have something to drink right away. Cocktails are great options for dinner parties, but so is beer or wine, depending on your crowd. If your guest list is more than a handful of people, a pre-batched punch will be your best option, otherwise, you might find yourself mixing drinks all night. Playing bartender is the last thing you want to find yourself doing, and avoiding it is one of our key hosting tips to ensuring an enjoyable dinner party for everyone.

 

Make sure that if you’re offering alcohol, you also provide non-alcoholic beverages for your friends that choose not to partake. Whether you’re serving a cocktail or mocktail, serve it in festive glasses for a thoughtful touch. 

7. Find decorations

If you’ve chosen a theme, then finding decorations will be easy. You’ll already have some ideas of how you envision the party. If you plan on having a beach party theme, then you’ll likely want to find decorations that add to a beachy vibe like seashells on the dinner table and little umbrellas for cocktails.

 

However, if you decide on a more formal theme, that might mean elegant wine glasses, tall candles, beautiful flowers, and your best china. You could even go for a more eclectic look with mismatched glasses and plates, and brightly colored cloth napkins. Just make sure whatever is in the center of your dinner table isn’t so tall that your guests can’t comfortably see each other and chat around it. 

 

Pro-tip: Every good dinner party should have a welcoming ambiance. Aside from the decorations, candles and low lighting work wonders. People tend to be much more comfortable sharing and conversing in low light that’s warm and welcoming, as opposed to stark, bright light. 

8. Prep your place

Leading up to the day of your dinner party, you’ll want to make sure that your house or apartment is presentable for guests. Clean and tidy up your common areas to make sure your place is prepped. 

 

On the day of your party, make sure that all of your decorations are set up, your food dishes are either set out or prepared, and everything is in place. Seeing your party come together is one of the most exciting parts of the planning process. Have fun as you decorate your place and cook your dishes for the party! 

Enjoy the party planning process

While you are the host and have to make sure things get done for the party to run smoothly, make sure that when the time comes, you sit down, eat, drink, and be merry with the people you love most. With all of the details that go into planning a dinner party, you should enjoy it along the way! Part of the fun is planning so be easy on yourself, and use this as a way to express your creativity and personality.

 

Figuring out how to plan a dinner party at home is actually quite easy. With these dinner party planning tips and tricks, the process of planning will, no doubt, be enjoyable! From a simple, informal potluck where everyone is advised to BYOB to a fancy, themed dinner party where everyone comes dressed to impress, you steer the ship. Decide what kind of dinner party you want to bring to life and get planning. Start with creating beautiful invitations that get your guests just as excited as you are.

Check out our collection of beautifully curated invitations to find one that perfectly fits your vibe.