Hosting a Dinner Party: Planning the Party Flow
The party flow is your schedule of movement and events
which allow a change of scenery, rearrangement of the party guests
, and more new and interesting details and surprises
throughout the evening. Flow Overview
The most effective technique for “surprising”
your guests is a complete change in scenery
. The size and nature of a dinner party offers the ideal opportunity
to create 2 or 3 different scenes
to be revealed throughout the evening. Specifically:
- Pre-dinner cocktail area
- Dining room and table
- After-dinner conversation
When choosing each area, try to create as much contrast
between each location as possible. If weather permits, setup one of the three scenes outdoors or on a porch.Consider the arrival and flow
of your guests so you can keep each decorated vignette hidden
until time to unveil your creative secrets. Plan the entrance
of your guests to bypass
any areas that may be decorated for later.
For example, if you are serving cocktails by the pool
, have the guests enter through the side gate to bypass the dining room. Be sure to place a sign at the front walk
or door to direct them to the cocktail area.
If it is inconvenient to plan a diversionary route, turn off the lights and close the doors leading to the decorated vignette
. When greeting or escorting your guests, face the decorated room and position your guest's back to later surprises
. Move them through as quickly as possible.
is to have the elements ready to quickly set-up
after the guests arrive, such as setting up an outdoor firepit with tiki torches and candles for after-dinner conversation.
Or you may choose to hide a decorated area
, for example covering the dining table with a tablecloth. When covering, be sure to remove tall items, such as candlesticks and stemware.
Do not let any of your guests, including your helpers, in the other decorated areas until the moment of revelation.
Make an after-dinner plan
based upon how long you want your guests to stay
. To extend
the party, create a separate venue for after-dinner
drinks and/or dessert. Alternatively, serve dessert at the table
with coffee and cordials to wrap up the party shortly thereafter
. However, you can further extend
the evening by inviting your guests back to the cocktail area
or another venue for after-dinner drinks and conversation.
Party games are not recommended.ArrivalsDesignate a place for gifts and umbrella
s near the entrance. For a party with a guest of honor, separate the honorees gifts
and cards from the hosts
. Also, designate a place for coats
, which may be in a separate room.
As the host, try to escort each guest
to the cocktail area and get or facilitate each arriving guest’s first drink
. This allows you a chance to introduce them
, if necessary, to the group and offer your specialty drink
of the evening upon arrival.
If someone is making cocktails, order their cocktails for them, otherwise, make it yourself. At this point, it is perfectly okay to tell them (with a smile) that you’ll get their first one, but after that they are on their own and help themselves.
- Designate a place for gifts and cards
- Select an area to put guests’ coats
- Get or arrange each guest’s first drink
One thing you can count on is that virtually every one of your guests will visit your bathroom
at least once during the party. A thorough cleaning is recommended
for a dinner party, especially every bathroom.
The day before the party you will also want to remove any “interesting” prescriptions
or medicines in your medicine chests.
To minimize potential embarrassment to any of your guests, you may want to make a few items available and easy to find in your bathroom
, such as:
- Extra toilet paper
- Feminine items
- Air freshener
Now that you know how your party will flow, the next step is to determine the party lighting