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Dinner Event Planning
Setting & Seating & Serving
Dinner Party Planning
Dinner Menu Planning
Birthday Dinner Party
Getting Started Basics
Setting | Seating | Serving
Dinner Party Checklist
Dinner Party Themes
Dinner Party Etiquette
Dinner Shopping Lists
Guest List & Invites
The Cocktail Hour
Selecting the Music
Dinner Party Table Setting, Seating Chart, & Serving Food
dramatic “wow” moment
when your guests see your decorated dining table by keeping the dining area
hidden from view until seating
cocktail area away
from the dining room, keep
access doors closed
. Light the candles and fill water glasses yourself before announcing dinner.
Dinner Party Table Setting
Most of the dinner party will happen at the dining table, so
presentation of the dining room
For the table, use a
white tablecloth and white napkins
to make your
on the neutral background.
strong visual centerpiece
to emphasize your theme and
add fun and/or elegance
. Make sure the centerpiece does not obstruct guests’ view of each other across the table.
tapers, votives, and/or pillar candles
, in conjunction with an overhead
light on a dimmer
, to create "warm fuzzy" lighting, which is more
cozy and flattering
Whether you are plating the food or serving family-style, fully
set each place setting
for a more
spectacular visual display
Start by centering a charger
, service plate, or dinner plate at each chair. The plate should be
1 inch from the edge
of the table. When plating food, service and dinner plates are picked up before the first course is served, chargers may, optionally, be left down for the soup and salad courses.
Make sure all of the
chairs and plates are aligned
and evenly spaced.
Set each place with
silverware, aligned 1 inch
from the edge of the table. Silverware is, generally, placed in the order it is to be used from the outside toward the plate.
Place the dessert fork to the left of the plate, the dinner fork next, and the salad fork on the outside. You may optionally center the dessert fork above the plate, prongs left and perpendicular to the silverware beside the plate.
The knife is placed on the right with the blade facing the plate. If there is more than one knife, they should also be placed with the first knife to be used at the farthest position from the plate.
The spoon is placed to the right of the knife and the soup spoon at the farthest right. The dessert spoon is typically centered above the plate with the bowl to the right and perpendicular to the silverware beside the plate.
, the dessert fork, dessert spoon, soup spoon, and steak knife may all be
brought out during the appropriate course
. Do not place more than 3 pieces of silverware on each side of the plate. If you require more, bring silverware out as the additional courses are served.
The bread plate should be above and left of the dinner plate with the butter knife, if using, across the plate.
Place the glasses in order of use, starting with the water glass, which should be above and right of the plate, above the knife.
The wine glass is to the right and below the water glass. If serving red & white, place the white wine glass below and right of the red wine glass, which is below and right of the water glass. Alternatively, the 2nd wine glass may be placed to make a triangle with the 1st wine glass and water glass.
Place the champagne glass above and right of the wine glasses.
The coffee cup's position is to the right of the glasses. If you are tight for space, place the coffee cup lower on the right or bring coffee cups out with dessert.
The napkin should go to the left of the forks, in the charger, or in a glass.
Incorporate your theme
at each place setting by:
theme cocktail napkin
in each charger or plate
Prepare a color-coordinated or
. Serve by filling a shot or cordial glass for each guest and place on the cocktail napkin. If the aperitif and napkin are the same color you may omit the cocktail napkin to make the cordial glass stand-out. Have your aperitifs in place before the guests enter the dining area.
Use color or
theme beads as a napkin ring
for guests to optionally wear.
Here are a few aperitif suggestions by color:
Black: Chilled black vodka, Blavod, Black Russian
Blue: Vodka w/blue cuacao., Blue Kamikaze
Red: Campari or Raspberry Schnapps
Green: Sour Apple Schnapps, Melon Ball
Teal: Vodka w/ Sour Apple & a few drops of Blue Curacao, Melon Ball with Blue Curacao
Pink: P.i.n.k. vodka, vodka with a few drops of raspberry, Pink Lady
Purple: Grape Schnapps, blue Schnapps w/ raspberry
Orange: Gran Marnier; triple sec, Cointreau, or orange flavored vodka
Yellow: Galiano, tequila
If necessary, use a small amount of
Jell-O, Kool-aid or food coloring
to color a flavored vodka or any other clear drink you wish to use.
, add an extra feeling of celebration by
hanging crepe streamers or dangling swirls
from the ceiling.
Dinner Party Table Seating
Always have a seating arrangement plan
, no matter how small a crowd – even a party of four. Here’s why:
Couples, partners, and best friends
will usually talk to each other quite easily. Always
seat them across the table
from one another so that their conversation naturally
includes those seated around
them. Their familiarity will
spark activity and interest
at the table with less effort by you.
On the other hand, when
seated next to each other, it excludes everyone
else from their conversation. Furthermore, sitting them too far apart may stifle their conversation.
Technically, the guest of honor is seated to the right of the host
and their dinner partner is seated to the right of the co-host. Personally, I
prefer to seat the guest of honor in the center
of the table to allow him/her access to the greatest number of other guests.
Plan your seating arrangement by
your conversationalists and
fun guests first
. If you have more than one, separate them. Then assign their
partner the seat directly across
If a guest does not have a partner, seat the guest they know best that also does not have a partner directly across.
Decide who you would like to assist you during the meal, if you need it.
Do not use your co-host for assistance while serving.
One host should be with the rest of the guests at all times.
shyest guest is often a good pick
, because it gives them something to do without the social anxiety. And, it does not kill the party when you both are out of the room.
designated helper to your left
. Of course, don't tell them they are the designated helper, just quietly ask them if they would give you hand in the kitchen (if you need it).
Dinner Party Table Serving
Before your guests arrive, choose
how you will serve dinner:
Plate the food
put the food on each plate in the kitchen and bring out to each guest, also called "restaurant style"
Serve family style
allow the guests to help themselves at the table from serving bowls and platters
Set up a buffet
put the food in serving dishes on a buffet, counter, or separate table and have your guests get up and serve their plates
allows for a much
more interesting presentation
, and should be no problem with a little assistance.
If you want to effortlessly execute the synchronization of cooking, plating, serving, and clearing, as well as any birthday festivities, simply
write out a detailed timeline
of events before the party.
It is extremely
difficult to concentrate
and remember all the details you have planned after your guests arrive. The solution: give yourself some direction and reminders in the form of a
written schedule of things to do
When heating or cooking, always
use a timer during a dinner party
. If you need more than one, use the
alarm clock on your phone
and carry it with you. The last thing you want to do is forget to take something off the stove or out of the oven. It is very
easy to get distracted
attending to your guests and lose track of time.
Dinner parties are
perfect for birthdays
because you can use the time between courses for birthday festivities. Plan to have the birthday boy or girl
open cards and gifts between courses
right before the main course.
This gives you a
little extra time
to get the main course served, and it is
to you. If you are ready to serve, save the rest of the cards and gifts for after the main course and before dessert.