There’s nothing quite as classy as throwing a dinner party for your friends. It really gives new meaning to adulating.

And while dinner parties are a lot of fun, they’re also quite a bit of work, both in preparation and execution. To help you throw the best dinner party, here are five tips to keep in mind:

Send out invites with all the specifics

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You don’t want your guests showing up at your dinner party in jeans and a sweater when you were envisioning cocktail attire. You also probably don’t want everyone to bring the same dessert or wine. Be specific with your invite. Let those you’re inviting know the where and when several weeks in advance so they have enough time to put it on their schedule and RSVP.

 

Also, don’t feel bad about asking your guests to bring what you want. Most people will know to bring something, so why not make it easier for everyone? If you know what kind of wine or sweet treat would go best with your meal, let them know. They’ll appreciate the direction.

If you’re looking to channel some old school glamour, you can send your invites in the mail, but you can also be a little more efficient and save some paper by sending invitations through email. There are tons of platforms out there that allow you to customize.

Know your guests

Before you send out those beautiful customized invitations think about who you’re inviting. Will they mesh well together? Are you looking to host mostly couples, singles, or a mix of the two? How will that dynamic play out? Are you looking to get people together that already know each other or will people from different spheres of your life be present? It’s always fun to introduce people, but make sure those guests will vibe with one another.

You should also think about how many people you would like to invite to your home. Most dinner parties tend to be intimate, and in our small Washington, D.C. apartments, they become even smaller. Take inventory of your space and be realistic about how many people can comfortably sit around. It may also be the time to consider whether you want a more formal party around a dinner table, or something a little more creative with appetizers or a buffet where people don’t need assigned seating. In those city dwellings, it might make sense to go the creative route.

Pick a theme

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Having a set theme for your party will determine how the entire night will go and give the party a more cohesive flow. It will let guests know how to dress, what to bring, the dinner menu, the décor of your home, the music you’ll play, and even the course of conversation.

If you’re thinking of a more casual setting, pull out board games (Cards Against Humanity is always a fun one- but read the room beforehand!), and serve appetizers or comfort food people can nibble on while getting cozy on the couch.

If glitz, glamour, and romance is what you want, set up a bar station your guests can access when they enter, and create a dinner menu (having a pretty printout for your guests would keep them both informed and would add a nice extra touch) with various courses your guests can enjoy around a dining room table. Be mindful of your décor, turn off overhead lights and burn candles instead; place flowers around your home, and think about a centerpiece for your table. Let your guests know to be ready to mingle and engage in thoughtful conversation.

Be thoughtful about the menu

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Once you’ve decided on your theme for the evening, you can create your dinner menu around it. It’s best to make something you already know how to cook, and can make mostly ahead of time, as at least one thing is bound to go wrong. As part of your theme, think about how you would like to serve your food. The layout of your apartment will also play a role. If you have a lot of counter space, but are lacking a large table, think about making an array of appetizers for guests to munch on. If you are attempting that three-course dinner, be mindful of how the food will pair with each other and be aware of pacing. Go to Pinterest or food blogs to learn fun and easy to make recipes.

Be aware of your guests’ food preferences. You should know if someone in your party is a vegetarian or vegan, and adjust dinner accordingly. Have plenty of wine options, and a few non-alcoholic choices as well, to suit all preferences.

Don’t forget to say thank you!

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Don’t skimp on the thank you’s. People made an effort to get dressed up and come socialize in your home, and you should express your gratitude with a personalized note. While this may take time going the more traditional route and write a hand-written card, it’s also the 21st century, and a nice email could suffice. Just make sure that you’re not sending the same thing to all of your guests. Think of a funny joke someone made, or a thoughtful gift they brought to the party. Include those details in your thank you note and make them feel they’ve contributed to the success of the evening.

Now you’re ready to throw a fabulous dinner party for all of your friends!

Do you have a great dinner party tip? Let us know in the comments below!

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