Wednesday, December 16, 2009

5 tips for somehow maybe pulling off a dinner party

I'm going to level with you.
I just wrote a nice and informative post about how to host a dinner party, just like I promised.
It was zippy. It was to the point. It was helpful.
But it also kind of was bullshit.
Because you and I both know that I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. And I am no dinner party expert.
And that's what makes it fun.
So, assuming you're no dinner party expert either, but that you might be looking for a tip or two, from someone who's not quite sure what she's doing, but who has thrown a dinner party or four, I have gathered together my...

5 tips for somehow maybe pulling off a dinner party

1. Cook something that can be completed hours before anyone arrives. For example, lasagne.
Do not cook something that you have to make the moment before it touches the plate, for example, fresh pasta with shrimp and garlic. You will spend your entire party panicking in your kitchen, and the table will go on without you.

2. Your table is your canvas. Do make place cards. Do use cloth napkins, and if they are stained and you have no napkin rings, tie them up creatively with yarn, or ribbon, or something from the toolbox. Do buy cheap flowers at the supermarket and cut them short and put them into jelly jars, or stuff the jars with pine twigs from your back yard.

3. Use lighting to your advantage. And I mean, make it dim. Everything and everyone looks better by candle light, and that includes food that doesn't quite look like you thought it would. On the whole, candles make people feel fancy, and that's a good thing.

4. Do allow and maybe even ask your guests to bring wine. This will make the whole affair financially possible for you, and it is a very nice thing to line up all the bottles of wine that people thought about and chose for the occasion. Then you can all drink them together.

5. Do enjoy the mess of the thing. There might be an awkward silence or two (but probably not- you'd be surprised how happy people are at the chance to just sit and talk with each other!), the food might go wayward, I mean really, who knows what will happen. But try to just enjoy the fact that this dinner is special, that these people will probably never all be at the same table again, but tonight, here they are, and here you are, and how lovely it is that they accepted your invitation.

How absolutely lovely.


  1. Great read--read the how to and the bread post together. I am profoundly proud of you--you may actually relax and enjoy doing a dinner party soon. The wine and prosecco cocktail could be key to that notion.

  2. I had a dinner party! I served Monterey Chicken and twice-baked potatoes and green salad. It was really good...except for one thing. I had a potato disaster. Who can ruin baked potatoes? Me. My guests were my son's soon-to-be in-laws. What do you do? I hurried and made instant potatoes, mixed them with chopped bacon and green onions and sour cream, filled the skins (those weren't ruined) and topped them with crumbled bleu cheese. After they came out of the oven, you couldn't tell the difference! Usually when I have a disaster, I tell everyone. But I kept my mouth shut (and so did my kids) and no one knows! And even with the problems, we had a great dinner party!

  3. Yay JoLyn! It sounds like you were a potato crisis champion- an inspiration to us all...