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The term dinner party might bring to mind a scene out of Mad Men, but entertaining looks vastly different now than it did even just ten years ago. With the increase in metropolitan city dwellers and decrease in homeowners, dinner parties have changed. Rather than the formal, five-course meals of yesteryear, today’s dinner party focuses on bringing people together in a space where the drinks keep flowing and the good conversation never ends.
Hosting isn’t easy. It calls for the ultimate multi-tasker –food needs to be tasty and on time, people need to be comfortable, and the decor should look on point (or at least ready to be shared on Instagram!). To help streamline the hosting duties, we’re sharing a few ways to help you throw a modern dinner party without the stress and fussiness.
BEFORE THE DINNER PARTY
While this may seem neurotic, you can’t deny that a well-organized to-do list can only make things easier. Prepping for a dinner party is no different. We recommend using a simple task app like MeisterTask, which is based on the Kanban method of task management. With it, you have three columns—Open, In Progress, and Done. You create cards in each column, and move them along as you progress. MeisterTask stands out because of its intuitive interface, clean design, and ability to embed checklists and alarms under each task.
Also, don’t forget to schedule a reminder email to be sent the day of the event with all the necessary information such as the date, time, address, and what to bring.
Decide on a theme (and tell people)
While this might seem unnecessary for a casual get-together, this is the single element that pulls your dinner party together. The theme can literally be anything from “Sunday Roast” to “Holiday Get-Together”. Whatever it is, it helps guests know how they should dress and what to expect upon arrival.
Decorating beautifully and efficiently
While the decor is one of the most important parts of a dinner party, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Start off by investing in neutral, elevated dinnerware and flatware essentials, and then add in trendy tabletop accessories.
For the tabletop essentials, stick to a white, matte black, or subtle grays or tans. Dinnerware and flatware in these tones will look great paired with any seasonal accessories. Don’t get too carried away though…the worst thing to have at a dinner party is a cool looking set of flatware that squeaks on the plates or is hard to actually eat with. We love pairing lighter-colored dinner plates with sleek black flatware, or adding contrast with copper.
The fun really comes with the tabletop accessories. To add color, experiment with runners, candles, and floral arrangements. For summer tablescapes, pick a runner with brighter colors and organic textures. Flowers can be simple yet make an impact, such as a simple monstera or palm leaf. For wintery and holiday tablescapes, go with runners that have metallic threading, candles of differing heights, and stark branches to set the mood.
DURING THE DINNER PARTY
When I say “welcome activity,” I don’t actually mean an activity. What’s helpful though, is to give guests something to do or eat when they get there. Bonus points if it’s interactive, such as a “make-your-own-cheese-plate” bar. It keeps guests busy, and can also give them something to talk about with people they’ve never met.
Invest in high-tech cooking equipment
Getting app enabled/WiFi cooking equipment was a huge gamechanger for me. There’s a certain freedom in being able to “set it and forget it.” With Dacor’s Modernist collection, their refrigerator and signature combination oven brings together cutting edge technology and space efficiency.
Their futuristic refrigerator ensures that grocery shopping and food prep is a breeze. Not sure if you have a certain ingredient when you’re out picking up ingredients? Use their iQ Remote View™ to take a peek inside your fridge to see if you have it.
Their Pro Steam Ranges make it easy to cook multiple healthy dishes in a short window of time. Their Combination Speed Oven is a microwave oven and convection oven in one unit, meaning you can prep multiple dishes in a short time span.
The built-in WiFi also makes it even easier to be an attentive host. While the food is cooking, you can easily step away to mingle with your guests, while still maintaining complete control over the kitchen with your phone.
Get those drinks ready
Of course, the one common thread we see at all dinner parties is that the drinks are always flowing. Have a dedicated table for beverages, where bottles of wine are ready with a wine opener right next to it. Make sure there’s a bottle (or two) of wine open for when people first arrive. Another way to prepare ahead of time is having a large jug of a premixed cocktail sitting by the wine as well.
And if you’re not a bartender by trade, downloading a cocktail app onto your phone never hurts. Highball is a well-designed iOS app for people to find and share their custom cocktail recipes. The final cherry on top? Presentation. Add the details, like a lemon twist and custom cocktail ice from the Dacor Modernist Refrigerator. No one will know this isn’t your day job!
Even if you’re hosting a more casual gathering, a toast always helps. Not only does it acknowledge the fact that everyone made time to come together, it helps give cues to dinner guests. Toasts are a perfect way to kick off the dining, or transition to post-dinner drinks. Giving these cues throughout dinner helps keep the flow going, and it doesn’t leave guests wondering.
Inspired to host your own dinner party? Get your apps ready and get to cookin’!