What visual comes to mind when you hear the words dinner party? Do you think fancy schmansy? Do you visualize infused cocktails and dishes that require directions to eat? Do you envision dressing up in your finest attire?
If you answered yes OR no, you’re wrong AND you’re right!
Scarlet Says, a dinner party is a social occasion at which guests eat dinner together. There is a lot of flexibility in that definition. The bottom line is that a dinner party can be fancy or casual, at a restaurant or at your home, filled with the finest meats and vegetables prepared by a private chef or prepared by you in your own home.
If you are invited to, or plan to have a dinner party, relax – it’s really going to be just fine.
When we decided to host a couple’s dinner party last year, there were some very specific goals that we wanted to achieve. These items can apply to other kinds of dinner party’s, so let me give you the scoop:
Food: Decide what you’ll serve and the entire serving/display plan behind it. Food is of course a very important component of a dinner party. One of the highest focal points of the party will in fact be dinner, so it’s in your best interest to get this part right. For the couple’s dinner party, we decided to hire a chef. Chef Samaya prepared a delicious 3-course meal and relieved the stress and hassle of preparing the meal myself. It’s important for you to be present at your event. When guests arrive, you shouldn’t be still preparing food, cleaning up or getting yourself ready. There are ways that you can cook the meal yourself and still be in hostess mode when your guests arrive. If you go this route, you’ll just need to watch the time and ensure that you keep a to-do list to ensure that you’ll be ready to rock and roll when the first guest arrives. If you want to go the route of cooking all of the food yourself you may want to consider meal or grocery delivery that could assist with the added hassle of a trip to the grocery store. As a treat to our Scarlet supporters and readers, and because I am an avid user of Hello Fresh, you now have access to try out your first Hello Fresh box at a deeply discounted rate. Hello Fresh provides weekly deliveries of farm fresh ingredients and delicious recipes to your doorstep. Visit their website and use the promotional code, Scarlet35, towards your first box.
Beverages: Right up there with your food selection choices lies another event component that requires some intentional thought – the bar and beverage choices. Alcohol and food are usually the most expensive elements of any event, so mind these items carefully as it relates to your budget. While a completely open bar is certainly attractive, and will be very welcomed by many of your guests, if you are looking to reduce costs, consider a moist bar, where perhaps there is just beer, wine and non alcoholic beverages. We decided to have wine, a selection of liquor and non alcoholic beverages. For dinner, we served a selection of white and red wines and for desserts on the roof, we served more wine and a selection of dark liquor. Remember that there are many people who choose to not partake in the consumption of alcohol. As a hostess, its important for you to ensure that there are beverage options for everyone.
The Guest List: The guest list was and always will be a difficult thing for us, especially as it relates to dinner party’s. It was decided to have this dinner party at our home. Our dining room table sits 10 people comfortably, so really the choice was made for us regarding the maximum amount of people. Now, we have well more than 10 friends who are in a relationships, so there still was some narrowing down that had to happen and knowing that we would have future dinner party’s in the near future helped with decision-making as well. We would have invited everyone if we could, but that size dining room table doesn’t exist yet. When deciding your guest list, think about personalities. Now, here’s the thing (that you may not want to hear, know or be aware of). All of your friends or acquaintances may not be complimentary of each other.
So, this means that you’ll need to give some honest and careful thought to your guest list. You may be thinking, “but they’re all my friends and I’m the connecting link, so why wouldn’t things all go smoothly”. Look, bottom line is, there a ton of different personalities just within your immediate friend group alone. The way that some people approach, respond or react to things may not be something that you want to have to deal with at dinner. Now, odds are your event will very likely (and hopefully) be a smooth, harmonious and pleasant event, but giving a few moments of thought to who’s personalities mesh together (and whose does not) could be the difference between a success or a disaster.
The Environment: One of the most enjoyable elements of the event was having desserts on the roof. The formal party of a dinner party, which usually involves sitting down in front of nice dishes, a well set table and being served is all well and good, but if there is an opportunity to break up the formalities, change environments and continue with the fun – do it.
Get Your Guests Involved: If there is a wine aficionado in the group who insists on opening and pouring the wine, let them. If your best girlfriend wants to come early to help you put the final touches on things, let her. I personally take my hosting duties seriously and do 95% of the work myself – but it’s because I enjoy it. But, if you’re going to be run down and tired, and not fully able to enjoy your event because you’ve tried to do everything yourself, consider commissioning assistance or at a minimum, accept the offer when someone wants to help.
Scarlet Says… dinner party’s come in all different shapes and sizes. The next time that you remotely consider having one or maybe just inviting people over, allow your mind to wander a bit into creative and non-traditional possibilities. The most important thing is to plan. Make to-do lists and give yourself enough time to comfortably plan for the event so that when dinner is served, you can sit back and enjoy the occasion just as much as your guests.