The Lost Art of the Dinner Party
January 27, 2020
...and all the amazing reasons that we should bring it back!
Most of us have a deep desire to connect with others and celebrate life. I know that I do. And, in my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is to host a memorable dinner party.
This is what led Kelli, Jeff and I to host a dinner party for our talented team in my home last Saturday night. We wanted to hold our event in a cozy, personal space where we could relax, engage, and connect as people, not co-workers.
Planning a dinner party is not just about the guests; it is also about you. There is nothing like knowing that 17 people (really, any number) are going to be coming to your home. It motivates you to put away the ordinary to-do list of life and begin to think about planning something fun, exciting and enchanting.
Enchantment is described as "a feeling of great pleasure or delight" or "the state of being under a spell; magic." A dinner party has every opportunity to possess this sort of magical quality when you focus on a few simple thoughts and ideas.
The host or hostess (or both) is responsible for setting the magical mood of the evening. If you have fun with it, so will your guests. Decide that you will elevate the experience beyond the ordinary and create an environment that energizes and inspires...both you and your guests will have a blast if you do.
The number of people that you have at your dinner party will dictate many of your decisions going forward. In our case, we knew that we would host all of our staff and their significant others, which meant up to 20 people could attend. While I might have decided to cook for a managable 8 to 10 guests, we knew that it would be more difficult for a larger gathering. Which is why we decided to…
Hiring a chef allows you, as the host, to serve a great meal while also being able to relax, enjoy your guests without the added stress of preparation.
We hired Chef Cyd of Cyd's Catering. Let's talk about the cost a little bit. When I am preparing meals for a holiday (for larger groups of people), I know for a fact that I totally overspend on my groceries and wine, wanting to make sure I have enough of everything.
With a Chef, they have this skill down pat, and while the cost might be a little higher, it is not a significant one. And what a luxury it is to have a fabulous chef to describe each course, provide fantastic service, allow you to truly focus on your guests, and then leave your home cleaner than when you started! So worth it!
Because we had a chef, we were able to surprise our guests with a delicious culinary experience! Here is what Cyd prepared for us:
Celebration Salad with Citrus- Champagne Vinaigrette - Pomegranates – Apples - Marcona Almonds
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Cyd’s Fresh Rolls
Dessert Sampler Served on a Salt Block that included:
Chocolate Peppermint Brownie
And yes, we were stuffed!
To make the evening special the environment should be memorable and magical. All you have to do is get creative with your table decor. I think this aspect is one of the most intimidating for some. But for me, it's my favorite part. I look at it much like I am creating a fun outfit or an inspiring room design. First, I start with a source of inspiration.
My inspiration was two yards of fabric that I purchased locally. It had festive black, white, and gold sequins on a white mesh which made it super easy to cut to the size of a table runner.
Elegant black, white, and gold became my theme for the evening. I knew I wanted to use my everyday white dishes. I added black napkins, a black and gold salad plate, and a gold charger. I used my ordinary glasses combined with my good crystal goblets and wine glasses.
Flowers were a breeze because my theme called for white flowers...nothing more beautiful and simple to work with than white roses (from Trader Joe's.)
I did add one extra touch to my tablescape that I thought was fresh and fun. I ordered laser cut place cards with the name of each of our guests. This small personalized touch cost $1.30 each, and I was able to get them with only a week's notice! Fabulous, right?
Okay, I also love candles, candles, and more candles. There is just something so special about a candlelit dinner. So, of course, I added as many as I could.
You will also notice that my main table wasn't big enough to accommodate everyone, so I added a folding table and continued with my black, gold, and white theme tieing it all together! Voila.
How? We asked our team to dress (however they wanted) like it was a special occasion and in something that truly inspires them. It is always lovely to see everyone at their best. And it got everyone engaged in the idea of making the evening magical!
Keep in mind that a home is never too small, no matter what the size of your party. A great dinner party isn't about the size of your home. The most important ingredient is the energy both you and your guests bring!
Before dinner, you will likely serve appetizers and cocktails allowing your guests to arrive and gather an hour or so before being seated. Seventeen people may seem like a whole lot of people to accommodate, especially when I have a great deal of space already devoted to a seated dinner.
I have done this enough to know that people love to spread out into all the little nooks and crannies on the main floor of a home...whether that be in the front room, great room, foyer, or kitchen.
Believe me, it all works out! Just have fun with it.
We often talk about "Living Life Beautifully" at K. Renee. A dinner party encapsulates this idea so well.
"Living Life Beautifully" isn't a thing. It's about fully experiencing and celebrating life - not reading, thinking, or talking about it but getting out there and doing it.
A dinner party allows you... To stop and take it all in.
To break bread and share stories.
To share dreams.
And, the laughter? Pure joy.
So I encourage you to bring back the art of the dinner party — a wonderful break from the ordinary and a chance to connect with what matters.
Cheers to your next gathering!