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A better dinner party starts here

Oranges, grapes, trail mix and cheese cubes in trays

Tips for a Great Dinner Party

I believe our homes-whether small or large, simple or fancy-are meant to be shared with others. There’s nothing like having a great dinner party at your home. It’s a wonderful way to spend time catching up with old friends or creating bonds with new ones. Plus, it can be a lot cheaper than going out for a night on the town. One of the unfortunate things about our lives today is that we really don’t take the time to get connected with each other in person. We tweet, text message, email or Skype, but we don’t really get that face-to-face time with each other anymore. So, how exactly can you turn this around and put together a fabulous time with friends? Well, I’m so glad you asked because I have a list of things that’ll most certainly keep you from having a great dinner party.
Just do it! - I understand that after a long week, all you want to do at times is camp out in front of the t.v. or sleep in your bed; but, where’s the fun in that? How will you get to know your neighbors or spend quality time with your family? You’ll never find out how fun dinner parties can be if you don’t put forth the effort to have them.
Don’t sweat the small stuff - You say you can’t have anyone over because your house is too small or you don’t have nice dishes. Maybe you don’t cook or your house is constantly in a state of disarray. I’ve used all of these excuses at one time or another, but they’re totally a crock. Some of my best dinner parties happened when I lived in a very tiny apartment or didn’t stress out about making sure the house was completely spotless. Real people will understand. True friends won’t care.
Set a date - You’ve been talking about having people over for dinner for months, but have you actually put it on your calendar? If the answer is no, chances are you’re not going to ever have those great dinner parties at your home. Some people are really good about asking friends over for impromptu dinner parties. The rest of us have to be more intentional about planning something or it just won’t happen. This week, pick out a date to have some friends over.
Keep it intimate - Big parties can certainly be fun. That is, unless they’re so big that everyone leaves feeling like they hardly talked to anyone. Save the big crowds for birthday parties or summer picnics. Dinner parties should be more quaint so you can really get to know your guests on a personal level. If you invite too many people, it just won’t happen. Invite one or two couples over. I don’t think you can ever have too small of a guest list.
Simplify your menu - Unless you’re a famous chef, forget about trying to pull together a fancy-schmancy dinner menu that’ll have you spending so much time in the kitchen that you don’t get to enjoy the party. You also don’t have to go over the top on decorations or blow your budget. These things can certainly be nice and up the ambiance of the evening. However, if you’re doing so much and spending so much that you don’t find it enjoyable, what’s the point?
Simplify your menu - Don’t be so busy preparing for the evening that you have nothing left to give for your guests. You also don’t want to hide out or go mute while your guests are around. Instead, strike up a conversation about current events. Tell a good story or funny joke. Do what you can to make your guests feel at home.
Break up those awkward silences - I know not everyone enjoys party games as much as I do but you should plan for you and your guests to do something. And hopefully, that something doesn’t always involve the T.V. (I guess unless it’s football season.) Put some thought into making a great song list. Find a few icebreaker questions you all can answer over dinner. You may try a friendly round of charades, dominoes or Scattegories. Be creative. Do something to get the crowd laughing and out of their seats.
Leave room for conversation - Now a warning, you can go overboard on the entertainment. Don’t have the night so scripted that everyone’s exhausted by the time they leave. One or two games should be fine. Leave time for everyone to just talk and get to know each other. It’s the conversations that’ll make the night the most memorable.
Enjoy it! - My favorite dinner parties are when everyone ends up lingering around and talking long after dinner has ended. The best way to make this happen is to postpone cleaning up the house or moving the guests towards the door abruptly after an hour or two has passed. Try not to avoid making your guests feel rushed or as if they’re inconveniencing you by going on and on about what a long day you’ve had or how early you have to wake up in the morning. Instead, plan your dinner party for when you’ll have plenty of uninterrupted time to enjoy your guests. Then, relax.
Hors d oeuvres for a great dinner party
I hope there are a lot of dinner parties in your future. Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any other great do’s or don’ts for throwing a great dinner party.
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