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  • Menu Magic: Tips for a Perfect Dinner Party

Featured Image Caption: Clear Drinking Glass with Brown Liquid on Table

Visions of laughter, dancing, and mingling float through your mind as you envision the perfect dinner party. A dinner party is a great way to connect with friends and family, but planning a dinner party can be daunting. With these tips, you can rest assured that yours is the best possible party!

Create a Game Plan

Knowing what you want, how you want the party to go, and the basic details are crucial to a successful dinner party. Before making the guest list, you need to know where you are headed. If you are like most hosts, you want your event to create memories.

Below you will find tips for creating the enjoyable dinner party you have envisioned.

Guest List

The guest list is considered a vital part of a successful dinner party. The people you invite can make or break the event. Consider who you invite, how the differing personalities mesh, and who will enjoy the atmosphere. Crafting a guest list needn’t be all-inclusive for everyone you know. The list should bring together people with common interests who enjoy the type of dinner party planned.


While the guest list is vital, balancing that list and the dietary needs of the guests attending is important. Offering a variety of foods including vegan, gluten-free, etc. is a smart move but it can complicate the planning process. Consider finding a private chef to cater the event to curb those headaches and reduce the planning and fussing. Private chefs are a nice way to go if you want to add class and sophistication to your dinner party while still enjoying yourself.

Cocktails and Apps

The main meal tends to be the focus of a good dinner party, but don’t discount the perfect cocktails, mock-tails, and hors d’oeuvres. Keep in mind the main course: how will your social hour appetizers and drinks complement and uphold your theme? Finding the best combination is important and can be tricky. Keep the hors d’oeuvres simple, finger-food style, and delicious. Consider offering two or three signature cocktails with mock-tail alternatives to complement the foods.


The ambiance of the dinner party goes hand-in-hand with the theme. How you create mood lighting plays an important role in the tone for the rest of the dinner party. Does candlelight create the mood for your envisioned party? How about string lights such as Edison bulbs or fairy lights? Perhaps the party will be outdoors, and Tiki torches are the way to go. Take time beforehand to play with lighting. Have fun with it!


Don’t discount the impact the linens, tableware, glassware, and silverware make on a dinner party. Imagine a party where you were served food on paper plates with plastic utensils. Was it a picnic? Did those items lend themselves to the theme, mood, and ambiance the host was aiming for? Blending various elements, textures, and colors can highlight the dinner party, making it more enjoyable.

To Theme Or Not

Themed parties sound trite, but they needn’t! Casual or formal, all dinner parties should have a theme. Being a considerate host means you want the people around you to enjoy themselves and feel comfortable. Dinner party themes allow you to create something beautiful, relaxing, and fun. Whether it’s a beach party, black tie, or Tiki BBQ, a theme is a must for a successful dinner party!

Party Flow

How will your party progress? Planning how the night will progress is important for any party. Consider social hours, dinner, dessert, and cocktails/coffee time. What time will the dinner party begin? When can guests expect it to end? By creating a rough timeline for the dinner party, you can let guests, and yourself, know what to expect and when.

Dress Code

Will you go casual, beach attire, formal, or somewhere between? Your invitations should outline the expected attire. Have you been invited somewhere and had no idea how to dress? Help ease those concerns for your guests by putting those expectations in the invites.


The dinner party seating is usually not considered. When hosting a dinner party, consider how and where guests will sit. Will you have smaller tables with six to eight guests, or will you have a long table to accommodate everyone? Will you offer assigned seating or allow guests to mingle freely? Remember: you know the guests invited, even if they don’t know one another well. Use that to help them have an enjoyable time!

Managing Expectations

Hosts hitting a snag can cause their best-laid plans to go off the rails. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Understand before the gathering that not everything will go as planned. The most important part of a perfect dinner party is to have fun and ensure your guests enjoy themselves. Those who attend your party are there for you, and they will enjoy themselves more if you are enjoying yourself!

Don’t let the task of dinner party planning stop you! With these tips, you can feel confident that each area of the event will go smoothly, and you can impress your guests with your hosting chops. What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Julia Nikolaus

By Julia Nikolaus
who is a content strategist for an LA-based company. She enjoys working with food and drink brands along with pet clients. In her free time, Julia likes to bake new recipes, take dance classes, and spend time outdoors.

Member since June, 2024
View all the articles of Julia Nikolaus.

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