How To Throw a Memorable Dinner Party – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

How To Throw a Memorable Dinner Party

Some are naturally great hosts who can routinely throw memorable shindigs that neighbors, friends, and loved ones talk about for years. Others put on parties that are at best unmemorable and at worst funerary. Count yourself among the latter group? Don’t worry; not all is necessarily lost in your social life. You don’t have to be Oprah to be a great host. You have to keep a few critical hosting principles in mind when planning your next dinner party to ensure its success. Below are five of our favorite tips to help anyone become the host with the most.

  • Compose Your Guest List

The first – and most important – task that a host will undertake is to make up their guest list. It may seem as simple as inviting people whose company you enjoy (and it can be), but the right overall fit of guests will also be important here. After all, you might love your dental hygienist and your father-in-law, but that doesn’t mean that they will get along together. 

A poorly thought-out guest list will result in guests with little in common, lacking the mutual chemistry required to have what the French would call a bon moment or grand time. Think of people’s personalities when deciding who to invite. Compile your invite list with people that either do – or will – get along. Once you have your guest list, it’s time to imagine how the rest of the night could go.

  • Pick a Theme

If you want your night to be one that people are sure to remember, it helps to have a theme. Everyone will remember the Johnsons’ safari-themed cookout, and no one will remember Rhonda’s generic 32nd birthday BBQ. However, a theme doesn’t have to be super novel to stand out - even the classic dinner party can be memorable enough with the right ambiance, menu, and people. It is often the latter two that make for a truly special gathering.

The menu will do much of the hard work of conveying your theme to your guests. Serving Swedish appetizers such as pickled herring and meatballs will let your guests know that they can expect a night of Scandinavian delights. Feel free to share the menu with your guests beforehand. Not only will this serve as a fun little preview for your dinner party, but any guests with dietary restrictions will be able to get in touch so that you can be sure to have alternatives. (With some friend groups, it may seem impossible to keep everyone happy, a problem this Bon Appetit article highlights.)

Are you struggling to come up with a theme? Besides letting your taste buds pick, some other helpful hints when brainstorming can be to look at the calendar and plan a party around an upcoming holiday or event, such as Labor Day or the World Series.

  • Little Details Make All the Difference

The little things often make the difference when pulling a memorable night together. For example, if you are going for a luau-themed dinner, having tiki glasses or even serving dinner on a bamboo knotted skewer can make a huge difference in presentation and enjoyment. Your guests will notice and appreciate these little details, even if they don’t think to mention them when they do.

  • Decorate Lavishly

Do not confuse the edict to decorate lavishly with a need to spend gobs of money. In reality, you can often repurpose things around your home to make your dinner feel more special. Lavish attention toward your decorations to get the most bang for your buck. It can be as simple as dimming the lights, lighting some candles, and getting the fancy china out. With the china out, you can also use a mother of pearl napkin ring set that will really make your dinner more fancy! A little forethought can make all the difference, and there are many ways you can economically add ambiance without breaking the bank. 

One tip is to use cut flowers and houseplants to bring beauty into any space - you can utilize this tip at low or no cost. And, if you do spend a little bit of money on decorations, feel free to save them (if possible) for reuse at future iterations should your party be a hit.

  • Keep a Schedule (Even if Your Guests Don’t Know It)

The key to hosting a great dinner party is to keep the evening well-paced. You don’t want your guests sitting around waiting for their main course with empty stomachs, but you also don’t want them to feel rushed or as if there is a schedule that they must keep to. Thus, planning out a suitable schedule that balances socializing with other tasks – such as prep or serving – is of the utmost importance. Pay attention to things like cook times when planning your menu. Take advantage of dishes that can be prepared ahead of time to minimize your day-of stress.

Plan Your Party and Enjoy the Memories

To sum things up, anyone can throw a memorable dinner party with just a little planning. By considering your guest list, sticking to a theme, and paying attention to the details, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a memorable night yourself. And it may seem like a lot of work to plan such a party, but, hopefully, it is work that is well worth it – as the happy memories may last a lifetime.