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How to host a great dinner party

To make a dinner party memorable, it should appeal to all five senses. The more the guests’ senses are stimulated, the more interesting your party will be.

Party Hostess with champagne


Lighting sets the mood for any party. For evening and twilight parties, use candles to create drama. Everyone looks great by candlelight, and human eyesight can adjust quickly to low-level accent lighting. Small strands of white lights don’t have to be reserved for Christmas — they can be entwined in shrubs or trees to create a more formal atmosphere. Highlight color contrasts in food by serving on simple white dishes.


Sound is an essential element of a great party and helps to set the mood, pace and overall feeling of the celebration. If you are having music at your dinner party, make your selections in advance and choose a variety of genres to appeal to all guests. Conversation starters can include guest introductions with general subjects the guests have in common, as well as the person’s full name, hometown and interests.


For subtle fragrance, put scented flowers in warm water in the room 24 hours before the event. Other options include scented candles that also enhance the mood lighting. Be sure that the scent is not overpowering — this can steal attention from the food. You also can time the baking of your dessert to create a great smell as guests arrive.


Most argue that food is the most important component of a successful dinner party. Contrasts in color, size, texture and temperature keep the cuisine interesting. For example, pair the rough surface of deep-fried zucchini with the smooth, creamy texture of cucumber dip.


Go for some sort of harmony in the textures you present. Formal textures include china, crystal, silver, glass and other highly polished surfaces, plus silks, linens and other tightly woven fabrics. Casual textures can enhance an elegant look, too, and include hand-painted pottery and loosely woven fabrics.

With a festive spirit and creative appeal to the guests’ five senses, you can create a great dinner party that is sure to be the toast of the town.

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