As ironic as it is considering the introvert that I am, I have always dreamed of throwing elaborate dinner parties. I love the detail that goes into a well thought out night in. Have you ever seen a table setting from a Kinfolk dinner party?! Amazing. I even have (several) boards dedicated solely to dinner parties on my Pinterest. I love looking at the table settings, the beautiful spreads and coming up with creative ideas to implement.
Living with parents or roommates in the past didn’t feel conducive to hosting. When I moved into my most recent place, all excuses aside, I decided it was time to start hosting events and dinners.
My dinner parties and evenings I have since hosted are certainly not elaborate and amazing like the images I see on Pinterest or in magazines, but each time I host I learn new tips and tricks and inevitably make mistakes that teach me things to not do. How many times can I forget music? All considered, I think each go round is a little more successful then the last. It’s kind of awesome having people ask for your recipes and love ideas so much they want to use it for their own event.
I’m very much still a rookie at this whole hosting and dinner party thing but here are the tips I have come up with along the way so far:
- Start Small: The very first time I hosted at my new place, I felt like I needed to invite everyone. Guess what happened? In doing so, I ended up with a list of people I wasn’t necessarily close with. They were the ones that bailed, go figure. Needless to say I ended up spending WAY too much money and food that eventually went to waste. Despite the large “confirmed” RSVP list, the turn out was small. I have found much better success when I keep the group small. Stick with close friends, they can be held a little more accountable for showing up. This makes it so much easier to plan for, prep for, and it’s a lot more budget friendly.
- Accept Help: I’m guilty of this in many different areas of my life. I’ll be the first to admit it and say that I’m notoriously stubborn. I like the satisfaction of doing things all by myself. Combine this with the fact that I don’t like to feel like I am imposing or troubling people, I have in the past ended up trying to juggle everything on my own. If people offer, take them up on it! No guilt required. People love to feel like they are contributing. Let them. It’ll take a lot of pressure off of you and allow you to enjoy your evening more. This isn’t to say you should delegate. The most I will say when doing up an invite is to bring a dish. I will say that doing food this way makes things a whole lot easier. This is of course dependent on the type of evening I am hosting and isn’t always something I would do.
- Stick to what you know: With everything else that you have to balance, trying a new recipe might be the tipping point. One thing I always make is my guacamole, fully knowing that it is delicious and gets eaten up quickly. On the other hand, I’ve made more elaborate recipes that look amazing but have sat there untouched. You’re more likely to mess up with a recipe you’ve never tried before, and given it’s your first attempt, it might not necessarily taste or turn out as amazing as the recipe claims it will. If you are set on trying something new, plan a night in advance and do a trial run. That way you can be sure it’s something you want to include.
- It’s in the details: The little touches you add, whether it be the fresh flowers, candles (I prefer unscented for group settings), your serving dishes, etc. This can make all the difference. In the past I have strung photos from a line with clothespin along the wall when I hosted a reunion with my childhood friends. I have made a “Hot Cocoa” banner to dress up the drink station. I’ve noticed little touches like this really do get noticed and are ultimately worth putting in the extra time and effort for.
- Be mindful of peoples dietary restrictions: This often gets overlooked in my opinion. It’s thoughtful and always well received. People appreciate you Facebook is usually the medium I use to invite guests. I always make sure to ask on the event page whether or not anyone has food restrictions, preferences or allergies. I have certainly been to many events that didn’t have vegetarian or gluten free/dairy free options, and if they did it was a green salad that didn’t contain the necessary components that constitute as a meal. It’s easier than you think to prepare food that everyone can eat. Quinoa salads will become your best friend!
- Theme: If you are struggling to come up with ideas, sometimes throwing the idea of a theme into the mix makes things a whole lot easier. One of my last girls night we decided on a Mexican theme. Instantly food and drinks were taken care of. There was no need to search Pinterest for hours trying to come up with a cocktail to serve and food to make (tacos, fajitas and finally getting to use my fancy margarita maker worked perfectly within the theme). Friends brought bean dips and various types of salsa and of course I included my guacamole. Doing this really took out the guess work and helped people have a better idea of what they should bring with them.
- Interactive element: Naturally different groups will form throughout the night and people get separated into their own conversations. In an attempt to try and get everyone socializing together, I try to come up with some sort of activity. Party games can do the trick. And they don’t have to be elaborate either. I’ve also set up a “photo booth” with fun props which has been a big hit in the past.
- Take care of last minute items: Stock your bathroom. Get music. Clear the dishwasher and garbage beforehand to make for easier clean up. These are all things I’ve forgotten in the past. While they’re not major mistakes, I would consider them little hiccups. Your night will go smoother if you don’t find yourself running around taking care of these things in the midst of entertaining.
- Set an RSVP date: Why does Facebook have a maybe option?! That is so non committal it drives me crazy. In order to avoid making mass amounts of food that are disproportionate to the amount of guests, I like to follow up with the invitees. For anyone who selects “Maybe” as an RSVP I will casually text them asking them why they are a maybe and ask that they give me a definite answer within a certain time frame. I will also post a day or two beforehand on the Facebook event page as a reminder of the event and to see if everyone still plans on coming. Seems a bit naggy, but it’s totally not if you approach it correctly. There is certainly a right way to go about it and a wrong way. If someone doesn’t get back to you, assume they aren’t coming rather than texting them again and again. I would rather that then end up with massive amounts of taco meat in my fridge. Not ideal considering I don’t eat meat.
- Get creative: Leave your guests with something to remember from the night!
Do you like to entertain? What are your tips? Let me know below if you would add anything to this list!