My great grandparents at a themed 1953 party.
Millennials creating a generation of less of a focus on babies and more spending money means this is the PERFECT time to bring back dinner parties. Why should we spend a Tuesday reheating a microwavable dinner when we could be sipping wine with friends and eating pork roast?
In the hopes of getting this party started, here are my top tips for hosting a dinner party:
Pick a Theme Examples of appropriate themes include Chinese New Year, Desert Sunset, Favorite Animal Personality, Summer Solstice, Murder Mystery, Audrey Hepburn, Retro Palm Springs. Examples of inappropriate themes include China Night, Latino Night, Christian Extremists, any general or stereotypical view of a culture or religion.
Pick a Menu Have something on the menu for everyone. Include 2 vegan options, 2 gluten free options, 2 dairy free options, etc. that are large and hearty enough to fill the stomachs of everyone invited, even if they have an allergy. Be sure to double check with your guests about their allergies. Etiquette is about respecting others enough to know if someone will need an epipen if you put a peanut oil on everything.
Set a Budget The shopping list will include: decorations, place settings, food, and drinks (champagne?!) at the least. Additionally, it’s good to consider the cost of a cleaning crew, live musician, florist, and dry cleaner’s if you’re having a large guest list.
Review all Recipes As anyone who has cooked for Thanksgiving knows, recipes are deceiving. The initial time estimate at the top of an article may say “30 minutes,” but once you read the step by step, you discover joys like 2-day marinating times and “freeze overnight before adding the second layer” instructions. Read the all the recipes in full to properly set a time-frame.
Set Aside Cleaning Time I’ve always found it best to set 2 time slots for cleaning. One that is a few days before, then one that is the day-of or night before. If you’re like me and work from home, a clean house might look great over the weekend, but it needs a second run-through before guests arrive on the weekday.
Party Favors Although every posh event from Birmingham to Napa will have “goody bags” you should never feel the need to splurge on these favors. They can be as simple as letting the guests take home flowers from the party for them to stick in a vase or press. Keeping on-theme will give them a memento for the amazing evening.
Music A Bluetooth speaker works wonders for times like these. To help people get into the party, have the first 10-20 songs be energizing and match the tone of all the guests coming in for the cocktail hour. After that, slower and quieter music will suffice to amplify dinner conversation. Definitely don’t put the playlist on shuffle or guests will notice every change in tempo.
Don’t Clean until the Next Day Learned this later in life, but wish I had thought of it sooner. You hosted a party to spend time with your friends. Do not grab a scrub brush or load the dishwasher until the next day. Leave the dishes in the sink to soak and focus on being in the present and spending time with your favorite people!