It’s getting to the point when we can almost start thinking about being able to plan a few small gatherings of friends.
Not yet, but soon.
For me, whether it’s travel or dinner parties, the planning is half the fun.
If it’s travel I may start packing, in my head, a year in advance, deciding what will work and what needs to be added. I’ll work out itineraries and then re-work them a few dozen times.
If it’s a dinner party I’ll chose a theme and start planning the menu. I’ll find a great dessert, change the theme, switch the starter and do a complete turn-around on the whole idea. Then I have to decide how many people and where should we eat…. Dining room? Deck? Under the trees?
We only have a few months before we can actually, safely do anything so best to start planning now.
In case you’ve forgotten how to host a party (it’s been awhile) read on for some ideas…..
Hosting a small family dinner party gives you an opportunity to bring people together over delicious foods and drinks. You want everyone to have a great time at your event, so it makes sense to consider ways you can create inviting spaces for your guests. Try incorporating some of the following five ideas into your dinner party. They should make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable.
Create Areas for Conversation
Some of your family members might not know each other well. You can encourage conversation by creating areas where people feel they can stand or sit without getting in the way.
For example, you can try a modular sofa to fit every guest. With a modular sofa, you can create at least two areas for people to sit and talk.
Other ways to create conversation areas include:
- Making a drink table where people can bump into each other while mixing cocktails or grabbing snacks
- Setting up outdoor seating areas (weather permitting, of course) where people can enjoy your deck or patio
- Setting out interesting items like artwork or popular books so people will have something to talk about when they meet
The number of conversation areas that you create will depend on how many guests you expect. Try to make at least one spot for every three to four people.
Make Room for Movement
You want people to gather and converse, but you also want them to mingle. It’s great if a couple of people have a lively conversation throughout the party, but would you like them to try talking to others, too?
That’s why you need to create spaces for movement. The easier you make it for people to walk from group to group, the more they will interact.
You can make room for movement by:
- Clearing items like tables and bookcases from hallways
- Laying runners on the ground that show people where to walk
- Moving tables, couches, and other furniture away from a wall, creating paths that lead from room to room
Combining gathering spots and paths should contribute to a fun atmosphere where people feel free to explore the public parts of your home and introduce themselves to strangers.
Have Everyone Share Dinner at One Table
If possible, set up your dining table so everyone can eat in the same room. Some inconveniences may prevent you from reaching this goal. A small table or large guest list, for example, could force people to eat in spots throughout your home.
If you can get everyone at the same table, get them talking about the food as they eat. A great lasagna recipe, for instance, might get people talking about the types of cheese and sauce included in the dish.
Since you want everyone at the same table, you need to provide a seat for each guest. Most people don’t have a lot of extra seats around the house, so you might want to borrow some from a friend or rent additional seating for the party. Plenty of party supply companies will let you rent a small number of items for one night.
Adjust the Lighting to Meet the Mood
You can’t always predict the vibe of an event. Your dinner party could turn into a polite conversation. Then again, it could evolve into a dance party with people shimmying off the calories they just consumed.
You can prepare for any mood by adding smart lighting to your home. Some smart lights will let you use a smartphone app to control the amount of light in the room. Brighten the room for lively fun. Dim the room as couples enjoy romantic dances. Some lights will even let you change their color, which adds a whole new element to setting the mood of your party.
Make Sure People Feel Safe
More likely than not, some people will drink alcohol at your dinner party. Some might over imbibe and loosen up a bit too much. Keep your eyes open on anyone who seems to drink quickly. If they start to stumble or make unwanted advances toward others, you might need to send them home in a cab or rideshare. Sure, they’ll feel embarrassed the next day, but you did the right thing by putting the group’s needs above one person’s minor embarrassment.
You should also make sure everyone knows about any uncertain areas in your home, such as slick outdoor stairs or water faucets that run hot.
Consider Making Small Family Dinners Special
You don’t have to prepare for a large party to make an evening special. Sometimes you just want a special night at home with a couple of adults and the kids. You can make any dinner special by:
- Getting out the dishes and utensils you usually reserve for holidays
- Making a family favorite (or ordering carryout from a beloved restaurant)
- Emphasizing that no one plays with their electronics during the meal
- Establishing multiple courses that give your family a “restaurant” experience
Enjoy Your Next Dinner Party
Above all else, make sure people feel welcome at your dinner party. As long as you try, everyone will know that you did your best to give them a wonderful evening.