Everybody is more than ready to have the chance to visit with family and friends again, and what better option is there for doing so than a dinner party? The pandemic has been especially long, and you and your friends are craving the chance to be together! But, after so long not having parties, it’s easy to feel out of practice. How can you impress your guests at your next dinner party?
Send Out Invitations
Sending out beautiful invitations is a wonderful way to herald the end of the pandemic. While evites are, of course, possible, and Facebook events also exists, having an actual, paper invitation arrive is especially treasured. There are a plethora of websites which offer printed invitations. You can often even streamline your process by entering an address list so your mailing can be done as well!
Decorate Your Interior
You might decide that your best decorations are those surrounding you, and that’s ok! But if you have a themed party, it’s fun to have decorations to set the mood. Look for those things which will go along with your theme and which will also be fun with your theme. Subtle things which are beautiful are more than those which are plentiful. Remember, often themed foods are parts of dinner parties, and can also be part of décor. This includes lighting, which should be, if possible, soft and gentle. Fairy lights or lamps are nice to have on, instead of direct overhead lighting. Likewise, adding in soft pillows and peaceful textures, and, if later in the year, firelight, are lovely
Set the Table
If you’re feeling intimidated by thinking about properly setting a table, you’re not alone. Remember that modern table settings don’t have as many of the forks and spoons of those a century ago and are more approachable. Nobody generally needs a pickle fork or a fish fork as a specialty item these days. Use fresh colors and fabrics, and fresh flowers when possible. It’s critical that your settings be accessible, and also beautiful. Look towards whatever theme you are using, and what colors you prefer. Putting together a table is like putting together a beautiful outfit. Your tablecloth is foundational, like a classic dress or suit. Dishes, trays, glasses, and silverware are lovely accoutrement for this “fashion,” but the style is your decision!
Start With Appetizers
When looking for things to present before dinner as appetizers, think towards lightness and freshness. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whether raw or grilled, are particularly good and on trend at the moment. You can add to the presentation with bamboo skewers that make eating less messy. It’s important to make it possible to get to things easily, but yet without touching other’s portions. Even with a fully vaccinated crowd, it’s critical to recognize that most people are still easing back into society. This can include being wary of other people touching their foods, even when well. Things like individual portions, skewers, and toothpicks, are helpful for such instances.
The Main Menu
When planning your main menu, you want things which you can prepare ahead and which are variable to guest’s preferences if possible. You must know your guest’s allergies in advance, of course. This will help all of your guests to feel comfortable. You want food which is fresh and delicious. Look towards older menus and dishes which might be a fun treat after not having dinner parties for a long time, but don’t try to overwork yourself! There are modern ways to create older dishes, and search engines are your friends to find out how! Most of all, don’t try to cook things which will stress you out. It’s ok to do tried and true dishes, and it’s ok to also outsource to local groceries or caterers. Being together is what is important.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
If you have friends coming who offer to help, don’t think you need to do everything yourself! It’s ok to ask for help from those you trust. Someone you know might make an amazing salad, and another might make a beautiful dessert. Dinner parties actually turn out even more fun when there are more people to compliment. Everyone feels invested in the choices and dinner items, and enjoys sharing with the group! This can create a camaraderie among friends who are eager to share with each other, after so long a hiatus. It can be fun to see what offerings guests bring to treat one another, especially as everyone seems to have been working on cooking and baking skills this last year at home!
Complicated or Simple?
There are plenty of lists which you can follow if you get overwhelmed by the thought of having a dinner party. Your other option, though, might be to take a deep breath and choose to simplify. After a long pandemic, you have people you have genuinely been missing and whose presence is peaceful and fun. They will have fun regardless of what you wear, what you serve, or what you do. Choose those people. Those are your people! Life is too short to be around those who are hypercritical of your life and world. Choose to be around those who are supportive of the work you do, the person you are, and your family, as you do the same for them as well, and everybody will have fun automatically.
There’s nothing as lovely as seeing old friends and remembering your friendship has spanned not only time, but pandemic as well. What you do together is up to you. But regardless of what drinks you serve or what games you play, the most important thing at the moment is togetherness. Promote the atmosphere of good conversation, and of kindness towards one another, and this will create the best dinner party experience. After such a long time apart, being able to be together is a gift, so give yourself a break. Not everything needs to be perfect in order for it to be magnificent!
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