Throwing Our First Dinner Party
The dinner party is a lost art form in our current culture of Netflix and Chill, but not for long as Anna and I have committed to bringing back this lost tradition. Just last week we threw our first dinner party and it was outstanding! Here’s what we learned and what we’d recommend to our friends who also want to throw their own dinner parties.
PLAN THE DINNER PARTY
Any decent attempt at throwing a party will succeed because it is well thought through and planned. This starts with deciding who you want to have join you around the table. I’d encourage you to think twice about who you bring around the table and encourage you to think about people who might not know each other well but share common interests and lifestyles. This allows for diverse conversations and meaningful relationships to be created. For our first dinner party we choose to invite two couples that we we’re close too and knew each other but that wouldn’t otherwise come together.
Next is picking out the theme, which will determine the setting, cocktails, hor d’oeuvres, and main course for the night. We chose an authentic Northern Italian theme for a few reasons; one, it was easy to prepare in advance, and two, it was something we were confident in pulling off well. We paired our cocktails to our hor d’oeuvers, which led into our dinner. Each part was uniquely different but at the same time led into the next phase of the dinner.
INVITE YOUR GUESTS
The invitation is the next important step to pulling off a successful dinner party. We did not do this very well for our first dinner party but from what we learned we’d say its best to do a digital save-the-date and a physical invitation. We used Evite to send out our save-the-date then sent physical invitations a few days later. Where we only did this roughly two weeks in advance we’d recommend sending the save-the-date about six weeks prior and the physical invitation 4 weeks ahead.
A well timed invitation will allow for your guests to plan and prepare accordingly, especially if they will need childcare. In addition to timing the invitation is encouraging the proper response to the invitation. Traditionally it would be rude to receive an invitation and not respond within a few days but in today’s world that is not the case so kindly wording that you would like a response is key to include in your invitation. If you haven’t heard from your guest within ten days of sending the invitation it is acceptable to call and ask for a response.
Since the dinner party is a lost art form, many people do not know the proper etiquette so you’re going to have to do a little coaching through the process. Things you might want to communicate in your invitation beyond date, time and place is the dress code desired and that ‘traditionally it would be encouraged for guests to bring dessert and/or wine’. We chose to word that exact phrase in our invitation along with summer cocktail attire.
PREPARING FOR THE DINNER PARTY
Once you’ve got your theme and your invitations taken care of its time to research the details. Take it as far as you want to go but think about how to pair decor with food and food with cocktails. Then if you’re not experienced or familiar with certain aspects of your plan feel free to test the waters and prepare the food or cocktails a few nights in advance and make sure they are up to par.
I made the mistake of not trying the cocktail before hand and came to the unfortunate realization that the drinks I purposed were incredibly dry and I was not prepared to have anything that was even remotely different leaving my guests to only dry drinks that were moderate at best. Its also recommended to have ninety percent or more of the food prepared before guests arrived. During the party your time should be spent entertaining, not preparing.
ENJOY YOUR DINNER PARTY
Ready, set, enjoy! Should be exactly the execution for your dinner party. Preparations are made so that the moment the first guest arrives your ready to enjoy the evening with them. Starting with pre-prepared cocktails and conversation with hor d’oeuvres to a prepared dinner table. I would encourage doing cocktails in another room from the dinner table or on a back patio allowing for smooth transition from one progression to the next.
The key to enjoying your dinner party is tossing all expectations out the door when you open it for your guests. From that point on its all about serving them joyfully in the moment. Expectations will hinder your ability to enjoy the night with your friends and make the night strained. If you’re able to serve them out of joy and live in the moment you and your friends will enjoy the wonderful delights of a fine dinner party.
If you host a dinner party I’d love to hear about it so please shoot me a message on your experience. May your nights be full of entertaining and joyous memories!