Take your dinner party from drab to fab

Dinner parties are more than simply having friends over to eat. Next time you throw one, kick it up a notch and take the party from drab to fab!

Dinner party

Throwing a fabulous dinner party doesn’t have to take weeks of planning and cost hundreds of dollars. There are simple things you can do to make your party exceptional. The next time it’s your turn to play host, follow this guide for easy ways to take your dinner party from dull and boring to fun and fabulous!

Tip: Right away, offer your guests a place to put their coats, bags and purses.

Set the mood

First impressions count. From the moment your guests walk in the door, wow them with an inviting ambiance — and have it match your theme! If your party is a sit-down, formal meal, light candles and have soft, mellow music playing in the background. If it’s more of a casual evening, turn on the upbeat tunes and make sure your home is well-lit. No matter what the theme, greet your guests with a drink or a glass of wine. With the right mood, your guests will feel relaxed and glad they came immediately upon arriving.

Choose a menu you’re comfortable with

Now is not the time to try out a new dish you’ve been eyeing. Most likely, it will just cause stress, and you’ll be wondering if you made it properly or if your guests like it. Make a menu that you’re comfortable with. If you know you make a mean lasagna or incredibly moist pulled pork sandwiches, go with that. Remember, you want the party to be fun for you, too!

Check out these ideas for dinner party menus and recipes >>

PlacesettingSet the table

Whether you plan on having a buffet-style dinner or a sit-down meal, set the table in advance and make it beautiful. This is one thing the guests will notice, so make it count! Invest in a table runner or napkin holders if you don’t already have them and keep the centerpiece simple. A huge, overbearing centerpiece will overcrowd the table and make it hard for your guests to talk among themselves. Our favorite is some small candles paired with a natural, short floral arrangement.

Plan some games to play

Have a few games in mind you’d like to play with everyone. If the party starts to get a little dry and it’s still early, whip them out to guarantee a good time. Games are a great way to get everyone involved and socializing. Some of our favorites include Catch Phrase, Pictionary and Taboo.

Offer coffee and dessert

After sitting down and chatting or in between intense games of Pictionary, bring out dessert and offer your guests coffee or an after-dinner drink. This will be a nice, unexpected treat for your guests and requires little effort on your part. Go for a store-bought cheesecake, make homemade French lemon bars the day before or simply bake brownies from a box. Again, dessert and coffee are unexpected, so keep it simple.

Some final tips

  • Don’t worry about the dishes until after the guests leave. Simply rinse them and set them aside. There’s no bigger distraction than taking half an hour to load and run the dishwasher.
  • Lay out some snacks. Place candy in small bowls and set out chips and other snacks throughout your living and dining area. Having goodies to munch on is always appreciated.
  • Do all of the shopping the day before and prepare as much food ahead of time as possible. This allows you to be less stressed. No one wants a stressed-out host!

More on dinner parties

Choose your party: Dinner party three ways
Outdoor dinner party
Hosting a couples’ dinner party


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