Your dinner party’s success depends largely on the interaction, charm and interest of your chosen guests. In addition to each individual, you must also carefully consider the mixture of personalities.
Include one or more fun and entertaining conversationalists,
ideally one for every four persons at a dinner party. These guests will
have a large impact on how others will remember your party, so choose positive, bubbly, vivacious, confident, intelligent characters.
To ensure attendance by your most popular guests, dinner party invitations can be extended two (2) weeks in advance. Keep in mind, when planning and budgeting for your event, the farther out you invite, the more your guests will expect.
Because of the finite number of seats and the effort and expense necessary to prepare a meal for each person, dinner parties require an exact number of confirmed guests.
Furthermore, the combination of guests is as important as the individual at a dinner party, inviting by phone allows you to adjust the guest list as you determine who can attend. Be sure to follow-up by email with all of the details.
The most effective technique for keeping your party interesting is to plan 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
Consider the arrival and flow of your guests to keep your decorated dining area hidden until time to unveil your completed work. Alternatively, have things ready to quickly set-up the dining area after your guests are sequestered for pre-dinner cocktails.
Decorations, props, and surprises are the extras that make your dinner party memorable. Subtle decorations and moments of delight all centered around a cohesive theme keep your party interesting and your guests entertained.
To maximize the impact of your decorations use a white tablecloth and white napkins. Your dinner centerpiece and table decorations should be the most significant, by far, for a dinner party.
Beverage napkins in the center of a white dinner plate or charger are nice touches. Especially with the addition of an apertif, color-coordinated with your theme, in the center of each beverage napkin & charger set.
Do not use decorations or flowers that obstruct a guest’s view across the table.
Lighting Create a warm and inviting ambiance with overhead lights on a low dimmer setting, indirect lighting, and/or candles. Candles alone will not produce enough light for your guests to see facial expressions.
Overhead lights on a full setting are too glaring and bright. If you do not have a rheostat (dimmer) switch in your dining room, install one now.
Never use fluorescent lighting, which is extremely unflattering and will make any room feel cold and unwelcoming. This includes the kitchen while cooking.
Use unscented tapers and votive candles at the dinner table because scented candles will interfere with the aroma and taste of your food.
Always have a seating arrangement plan, simply direct your guests upon
entering the dining room. Seat your guests in opposing pairs, in other
words with couples, partners, best friends, etc. seated across from one
This ensures a level of social
comfort with a supporting partner in sight across the table and, more
importantly, this includes surrounding guests in any dialogue between
them. Their familiarity will spark activity and interest at the table with less effort by you.
The alternative, of seating partners next to each other, excludes
all other guests from their conversation, whether intentional or not.
One host should be with the other guests at all
times. Divide responsibilities instead of sharing them. For example,
one host can refill water glasses while the other prepares the next
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 completely adjustable to you. If you are ready to serve, let
the birthday boy or girl open the rest of the cards and gifts after the
main course and before dessert.
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.