Summer’s biggest trend is the return of the fabulous dinner party. The best part about this trend is the versatility in degree of sophistication, cuisine, decor, and flair, but every dinner party requires a bit more planning than a usual dinner gathering. If you have seen the same amount of curated, intimate dinner party content as we have, then you know the itch to throw your own is real. Picture content like a candle-lit room with a medium sized dinner table and guests toasting to the art of living well.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to your perfect dinner party, there are a few steps that will help you throw your first (or not your first) dinner party this summer.
How to Plan Your First Dinner Party
A successful dinner party is one of the greatest achievements for the home entertainer, but there is a lot of planning that goes into the dinner party pursuit. The best place to start (in our experience), is the number of guests you would like to achieve, as this has the ability to dictate your menu, budget, and theme.The size of your dining table can also be your guide to number of dinner guests, as this is the vehicle by which the ‘dinner’ part of your party takes place. The fundamentals of your dinner party plan, however should include: The date, start and end time, dress code, and the menu.
After you’ve decided on your optimal and most easily manageable number of guests, it is time to work on your theme: Do you curate a fancy black-tie style dress up dinner? Maybe you’d opt for a more casual grazing table or a hearty family style meal. Other non-food related themes (that still impact your food) could be a Italian-style trattoria dinner, Mediterranean-inspired, or a decadent affair where champagne flows.
Set the Mood with Lighting, Music, and Decor
One of the most fun elements of any dinner party is the decor as it is an opportunity to ‘zhuzh’ up your space for a fun occasion. You may take out special tableware or textiles you’d save for this very occasion or pick up some fun candles for ambiance. Candles with coloured wax that correlates with your table setting is an easy and budget-friendly touch to elevate your dinner party decor.
Next is the soundtrack to the evening. If you have a record player and a great collection of vinyl, this is a great opportunity to show off your well-curated music taste. Of course, don’t moonlight as the DJ of the party, remember you’re the host. If you have a smart speaker playing music during your dinner party, your playlist should include a spectrum of music from classics, up-beat feel good tunes, and down tempo tracks. A great way to get your guests involved before the big night is to create a ‘shared’ playlist, where every guest is asked to add one song to the playlist that they would like to hear on the evening.
If your dinner party is on a warm summer evening, you may even host a sundowners-to-dinner party where guests arrive when the sun is up, but the evening brings a cosier atmosphere with hearty food to match.
Dinner Service: What’s on the Menu?
Your menu should definitely be the focal point of your entire evening, it is called a dinner party after all. Be warned, you shouldn’t use your dinner party as a reason to try something new as this can be a risky move. Instead, lean on classic dishes in your own repertoire that you can prepare and serve with confidence. You are going to want to prepare as much as you can ahead of time like taking into account your guests’ major dietary requirements, preparing any meats, or par-cooking larger dishes.
There are so many directions your menu can go in, but there are a few guiding principles we live by designing a dinner party menu: Splurge where it matters; lean into family-style spreads —like meals with lots of little components, the ideal of abundance — and go big on the main course. If you need a simple formula for designing your dinner party menu, follow this: Welcome snacks, light course, main course, dessert, and drinks. This method ensures not only a consistent cuisine for you to follow, the table remains covered in plates of food, and guests are sure to leave feeling satisfied.