Dinner parties can be stressful, and that’s putting it mildly. If you’re anything like us, you love the idea of hosting a dinner party, but when it comes time to actually plan it, panic starts to set in. You want to make sure your party is well-organized, but you want it to be fun, too. Is it possible to do both?
We thought it would be nice to hopefully reduce the stress a bit, so you can actually enjoy the party you’ve signed up to host. After all, it’s your party, and you should have fun if you want to. Or cry — whichever works.
It almost goes without saying, but your food should be good. After you’ve nailed down your main dishes, it’s time to add some fun-yet-subtle touches to your home to kick things up a notch. Here are 8 simple ideas that will keep your guests entertained and continuing to talk about your par-TAY for a long time to come.
1. Liquid courage on wheels
Instead of having everyone approach the bar, why not have the bar approach them? Bar carts, the only time alcohol and wheels go together, don’t even have to go anywhere. They’re just a fun way to showcase all the drinks you have and show everyone that it’s perfectly normal to spend most of their time by the bar.
2. Don’t get shy with color
There’s nothing wrong with embracing neutral tones and a minimalist’s sense of style. However, since it’s a party, you’ll want to add some excitement by throwing in color — we suggest bright color — where it makes sense. The right palette can impart a warm and comfortable vibe, setting the tone for the rest of the night.
3. Presentation over everything
As we mentioned, your food should be good, so we’ll skip the details on that. But don’t forget about making it look good as well. We live in a social media age, and with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, food is the newest celebrity. Why not try:
- Long cutting boards instead of plates to display your made from scratch crostini.
- Clay pots instead of bowls to serve your Vietnamese vermicelli dish.
- Copper mugs instead of glasses for your summertime Moscow mules.
If it looks good, chances are it will taste good. And even if it doesn’t taste good, at least your guests will have a lot of “likes” on their social media feed. Hey, that’s worth something. Right?
4. String lights for the occasion
We are such suckers for string lights, and it’s no small wonder why. They look amazing, and they’re no longer reserved for just weddings and Christmastime. There’s a party light for every occasion. With the way they add a festive, magical charm, they’re really becoming more of a “must-have” than a “nice-to-have.” String them outside above a patio or inside around a window. They’re just so pretty, there’s really no wrong way to display them.
Another way to add beauty and special effects to any room is with LED tape lighting. You can use tape lights underneath your living room furniture, table and even along the ceiling cove to add a unique, inviting glow to your place. And if your place happens to be on the small side, tape lighting can make it look roomier.
5. Create a playlist
Playing some background music is a nice way to set the mood and atmosphere. Keep the music simple and relatable (you know your friends better than we do). Although, unless you want your dishes and vases to get broken, we’d suggest probably staying away from Nirvana. Try creating a playlist for every situation. Relaxing, calming music during slow, down times, and more upbeat tunes for when people want to get a little loose. By compiling a playlist in advance, you can spend less time on the music and more time making sure nothing is burning in the oven.
6. Games galore
Games are always the best way to break some ice, and a great way for your more introverted guests to show off their personality . There’s a lot of fun new games like Left, Right, Center for the gambling-lovers; inappropriate card games like Cards Against Humanity (please don’t let Grandma play) to get people out of their shell, or the guessing game “Who Am I?” if you don’t mind people staring at something on your back for the entire night.
7. Create a personalized menu
Making your own dinner party menu for guests to read might sound kind of cheesy, but that’s sort of the point. Your guests are likely expecting a casual affair, so why not surprise them with a handmade menu and make them feel like they’re experiencing a Michelin-star dinner in the south of France?
Since there’re no James Beard Awards being handed out, make it fun. If you’re serving hot dogs, try a cursive, art nouveau style font. Or grab your daughter’s blackboard easel and write it out in your fanciest handwriting. At the very least, your guests will laugh; and at best, you’ll make them feel special (because they are, of course).
If you need help creating a dinner menu, check out these easy-to-use, free templates.
8. Adjustable lighting
There’s nothing worse than winding down at the end of the night, preparing to leave, and having a glaring white light hit your face like a police interrogation. Do your guests a favor and get some soft mood lights or install a dimmer switch. At the right brightness level, it’ll feel more like candlelight, far more preferable in a social setting than the spotlight approach.
On the other hand, you could also just have candles, but then you introduce the element of potential fire danger. For this reason, we can’t completely recommend this, in the name of safety.
There you have it — eight wonderfully simple, time-and-effort-sparing ideas for hosting a dinner party. Now all you have to worry about are the friends you didn’t invite, and how they missed out on an awesome dinner party. Perhaps dinner party #2 should be coming soon!