Nothing brings people together like a dinner party. Dinner parties transcend an everyday meal with elevated cuisine, beautiful décor, and curated moments. PartySlate reached out to the catering experts at Catering by Design to learn how to host a successful dinner party.
“No matter the size of any celebration, attention to detail is crucial to having a successful event,” the team tells us. “A dinner party is no different.” It’s also important to enlist the help of talented event vendors. “Organizing any type of event can be overwhelming by yourself—especially when it comes to critical elements like catering, event planning, and management.”
Learn how to host the perfect dinner party in 11 steps, plus discover how corporate dinner party trends can take your private event to the next level. Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner for two, a small dinner party, or even a rehearsal dinner—celebrating in style has never been easier.
1. Make Your Guest List
Your guest list will determine everything from your venue to catering needs. Before you begin searching for a venue or assembling your vendor team, consider the following:
- Type of celebration: intimate versus dynamic
- Cost per person and overall budget
2. Choose Your Setting
Swap Your Dining Room for a Chic Venue
Too often, party hosts get stuck in the kitchen while their guests wine and dine. The party goes by in a flash, and then the clean-up begins. What should have been a meaningful celebration becomes a stressful experience.
Take the stress out of hosting by leaving your dining room (and kitchen) behind. Use PartySlate’s curated venue directory to find the perfect event space or private dining spot. Consider the following when selecting a venue:
- Guest count
- Venue type
- Catering and beverage options
- Included amenities
Utilize a Tent or Canopy for an At-Home Affair
Of course, at-home celebrations don’t have to be stressful — as long as you have the right vendor team. For those who prefer to celebrate at home, make sure to hire a rental team and design company to create a beautiful space that transcends the “every day.” You can also click on the following for the best at-home party inspiration:
- 5 Backyard Birthday Party Ideas for an Intimate Party at Home
- 17 Small Backyard Weddings That Prove Home is Where the Heart Is
3. Consider a Dinner Party Theme or Style
Go With a Party Theme
A great party theme ties the entire celebration together. It allows you to create a cohesive look, so everything from your invitations to the dessert feels curated.
The team at Catering by Design recommends hiring a design and floral company to execute your theme. “Design and décor are vital to making sure your vision comes alive,” the team tells us. “The décor and design team can manage all of your rental needs (from candle votives to flatware, glassware, linens, lounges, draping, florals, and beyond).”
Some of our favorite party themes include:
Opt for a Party Style
Unlike a party theme, a style is more of an overall vibe. Think of a mood you want to create. Do you want your guests to feel upbeat and dynamic or more refined and elegant? Your style can be reflected in everything from décor to cuisine.
Use our favorite wedding styles for your dinner party inspiration:
Pro Tip: Enlist the help of an event planner to narrow down (and execute) your dinner party style.
4. Send Out Invitations
In an age of endless emails, distinguish yourself (and your celebration) with artful invitations. Your invitations are a sneak peek into the celebration ahead, so make sure to use a color palette and design that ties into your celebration as a whole.
Don’t forget, your invitation designer can also curate other print goods for your dinner party. Create a cohesive look from the invitations all the way to the menu design and signage for custom cocktails.
Use PartySlate’s curated vendor directory to find an available invitations & print company. Narrow your search by filtering for location, event type, services, and more.
5. Assemble Your Vendor Team
“As the host of your dinner party, you want to be able to enjoy the event just as much as your guests,” the team at Catering by Design shares. “However, when the host is responsible for coordinating every aspect of the event, he or she ends up missing out.”
So how do you avoid this common dinner party mistake? “Hiring a professional events team takes that stress away and lets you enjoy the process, because you know you have a team to support you every step of the way,” the team explains.
We always recommend starting with an event planner. Catering by Design agrees. “An event planner handles the details and timeline of the event, no matter how small they may be,” the team tells us. “They’ll also coordinate all vendor partners; including, but not limited to, photographers, entertainment, florals, etc. Your event planner may see things you may have missed if you were planning by yourself. And as the host, you deserve to enjoy the night, converse with guests, and make memories.”
Use PartySlate’s vendor directory to find the best talent near you. You can also click on the following:
6. Offer Opportunities to Toast
Keep the cheers (and the bubbly) flowing with an experienced bar services and beverages team. Make sure there’s something for everyone with curated cocktails and innovative mocktails. Most importantly, make it an immersive experience with the following beverage ideas:
Create a Separate Bar Area
Make a separate bar area that doubles as event décor (and even a photo op). Use a rental company to curate a bar area that goes with your dinner party theme or style.
Create a Place to Mingle over Cocktails
The dinner table isn’t the only place for gathering. Create a lounge space for guests to mingle over pre-dinner cocktails or post-dinner digestifs.
Serve Wine Pairings With Dinner
Make dinner even more special with wine pairing. For an immersive experience, consider hosting a wine tasting before your meal.
Offer Curated Cocktails
Guests love curated cocktails (and mocktails). Make sure to feature cocktails that complement your color scheme and party theme.
7. Set Your Menu (With the Help of a Caterer)
A dinner party requires — you guessed it — dinner. After all, nothing brings people together like a good meal (and a good caterer). See how a caterer will take your dinner party to the next level.
“A caterer prepares the food and provides the service staff,” the Catering by Design team says. “They have the time and resources to shop, prep, and cook — and will plan properly for your personal needs and event size.”
It’s often difficult to meet each of your guests’ food preferences. “A caterer will create a custom menu for you that meets every dietary need and food allergy,” the team tells us. “You can relax knowing each guest can enjoy their meal.”
Caterers don’t just prepare food; they create an artistic experience. “They make sure each course is prepared and plated beautifully for the evening,” the team says. “The meal is a bonding moment and is the time to indulge a little more than usual.”
Creative cuisine comes in many forms. “This could be everything from grilling 50 oz ribeye steaks to a colorful meal with each dish being made from the same color ingredients to interactive and ‘Instagramable’ food stations,” the team says. “Plus, caterers can create fantastical foods as unique as your theme, and they have access to the best seasonal, fresh, and local ingredients around.”
Pro Tip: Make sure to use PartySlate’s curated directory to find a caterer for your dinner party. Use the filters to narrow your search by location, services, and more. And see some of our favorite catering ideas below:
Whet Appetites With Small Plates
Give guests a taste of things to come with individually-served appetizers and small plates. Consider using unique serving ware such as martini glasses and asymmetrical shaped plates for a photo-worthy presentation.
Charcuterie spreads are not only delicious; they’re photo-worthy. Go all out and create a beautiful crazing table with the help of your favorite caterer.
Make Every Entrée a Work of Art
Consider your dinner plate a blank canvas. Use different colors and textures to add depth and beauty to each entrée. Finish with a swirl of gourmet sauce.
Bring in the Chef
Think beyond the band when it comes to entertainment. Guests will love watching the chef prepare dinner right before their eyes.
8. Make it Personal
Personalize Place Settings
Welcome guests to their seats with a personalized touch. Consider everything from embroidered napkins, personalized place cards, or even personalized décor items.
Leave a Sweet Treat or Party Favor
If you decide on a party favor, make sure it ties into your party theme, style, or color palette. You can find a favors and gifts company in our curated vendor directory.
9. Create a Cohesive Tablescape
Go With Seamless Color Schemes
Keep a color scheme in mind when planning your tablescape décor. Consider everything from linen and florals to seating and lighting to complement your color palette.
Don’t Forget the Rentals
In addition to floral arrangements, you’ll want to utilize linen, glassware, plate charges, and seating to distinguish your tablescape. Make sure to add in textured materials to create depth.
Keep it Floral-Forward
Florals instantly brighten any tablescape. In addition to centerpieces, consider floral ceiling installations suspended over your tablescape.
Cue the Candlelight & Twinkling Lights
Create a warm and inviting atmosphere with lighting. Candlelight adds romance to any tablescape, while a canopy of twinkling lights creates an intimate and magical space.
10. Create an Instagram-Worthy Moment
You know your party is a success when it makes the rounds on Instagram. Create an Instagrammable moment that will have guests reaching for their cameras. The best moments are interactive, so consider the following ideas:
- Cold fireworks
- Flair bartending & creative cocktails
- Photo booths
- Confetti drop
- Live greeters
11. Make Sure to Hire a Staffing Company
“To maintain organization and add luxury to your dinner party, service staff is a must,” the Catering by Design team tells us. “Avoid the hassle of you and your guests cleaning up or getting refills and allow your service staff to take care of everything for you. Similar to an upscale restaurant dining experience, servers will be in uniforms, and they’ll typically assist with event set up and breakdown. This allows you to focus on enjoying the evening with your guests.”
They go on to tell us, “A service staff is typically part of the catering team and they set up, serve, bartend, and clean up. This creates a whole new world of service that will impress and delight your guests. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the dishes!”
Plus, Steal These Ideas from Corporate Dinner Parties
For a dinner party that takes dining to new heights, look to corporate dinner party trends. With an expertise in branding, corporations know the ins-and-outs of creating an immersive and unforgettable experience. Take your cues from the experts for wow-worthy décor, tablescapes, and entertainment.
You can check out even more ideas below:
- Corporate Dinner Party Ideas to Promote Your Brand
- PartySlate Transported Top Event Professionals to 70s-Era Tokyo at This Private Dining Space
- PartySlate’s Exclusive Summer Dinner Party
Unusual Table Shapes
Bring on the Live Band (and Dance Floor)
Don’t Miss How Catering by Design Transformed This Dinner Party
Catering by Design shares the details: “In 2021, we catered an especially memorable dinner party for an out-of-town client and their friends. The dinner took place at T-Lazy-7 Ranch in Aspen, Colorado where the stunning National Forests and Rocky Mountains were the backdrop.
“We covered large wood tables in lush greenery and florals and hung crystal chandeliers to set the tone for an elegant and rustic evening. Guests started their meal with a plated pre-set charcuterie and cheese course, followed by a family-style meal with quinoa & palisade peach tabouleh salad, orzo and roasted vegetable salad, tomahawk steak with grilled peach & mustard salad, pan seared salmon with herb parmesan risotto, chimichurri grilled broccolini, and roasted green beans. Instead of classic chicken fingers and French fries, kids feasted on a pasta bar with homemade meatballs with classic marinara sauce.
“Additional décor was brought to set the scene for the evening. Custom created passing trays and walls were made to match the trees you would find in Aspen by our master craftsman for a unique one-of-a-kind design. We even set up our fun wooden pig and chicken stand to hold the kids hors d’oeuvres of mini franks in a blanket and fresh vegetables with dip.”
People Also Ask…
How can PartySlate help me plan my next event?
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