Have a Better Dinner Party

Weekends mean relaxation, and what better way to relax than having some friends over for dinner? But maybe you want to go beyond the usual hamburgers and beers on the back porch. To help you elevate your next get together, read on for ways to throw an upscale dinner party–from casual chinos and a polo to dressed-to-the-nines high style.

Set the scene

Hosting a dinner party doesn’t mean a full-scale approach; you can have an upscale affair with a few simple touches. First, opt for low-key lighting such as lamps and lots of candles. Second, set out fresh flowers in all your entertaining spaces, including the kitchen and the guest bathroom. While a big extravagant centerpiece is a great idea, put it anywhere but on the dinner table. Go with low-range pieces on the table so people can talk to one another over the flowers.

Third, consider your music. High-energy music leads to a high-energy event; therefore, if you want something more relaxed, tone it down a bit so you create a cool atmosphere where people can enjoy themselves. For example, turn on Frank Sinatra or Michael Bublé for a really dressy party. If you’re going for a summer theme, beach music such as Jimmy Buffett is a good fit. Whatever you select, choose something that makes conversation easy for you and your guests.

Prepare the menu

When it comes to the food, choose dishes that you can prep ahead of time. For instance, a day before the party, cook braised short ribs, and then stuff the meat in piqueo peppers. Then, heat it up right before dinner. Another easy dish that can be prepared early is seared tuna over Asian noodle salad. Just sear the tuna and then refrigerate. Once you are ready to serve, simply slice the tuna and serve over the salad.

For dessert, take easy dishes and serve them up in elegant containers. Suggestions include chocolate mouse layered with peanut butter served in a martini glass or tangerine sorbet served with champagne in a flute.

Dress to impress

The right attire for your dinner party should reflect your tone or theme. For example, if it’s a casual affair, guys can go with linen pants and a button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, while girls can opt for white jeans paired with a colorful tunic. The goal is something stylish yet comfortable.

If you want a dressier event, go with suits with a loose skinny tie for the guys and a fun, playful cocktail dress for the girls. Themed events also lend themselves to certain clothing choices. For example, if you want a monochromatic theme such as yellow, ask your guests to dress in yellow. Or perhaps you plan to host a “Mad Men”-themed party. If so, dress in that era–1960s New York.

Whether you go casual or opt for high style, keep one thing in mind: It’s all about enjoying your friends’ company, so do as much of the work as possible beforehand so you don’t miss the party!





  1. I never think to buy flowers for my dinner parties. Of course, we’re more of the potluck-casual-party-throwers than the skinny-ties-and-cocktail-dresses people! Thanks for the tips!

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