Hosting get togethers with good friends is one of our very favorite things to do! Creating a warm, welcoming, beautiful space is essential for helping guests feel right at home. See below for some of my favorite hosting tips and tricks for a dinner party.
A drink station may be the most important thing to consider for a party - accessible water throughout the night is especially important if there is alcohol being consumed! It's also nice for people to be able to serve themselves rather than having to ask the host for a drink. Depending on the size of the group and where people will be eating (and if there are wild kiddos/dogs around), I'll put wine bottles on the dining table or side tables for easy access.
Serving station: We use our bar cabinet as a drink serving station - it's a nice height and has enough space for water and wine bottles. Bar carts or buffets would also work well.
Wood platter: I like adding in wood or ceramic platters to food and drink spreads to add some texture but also to protect the surface of our furniture. I don't mind if a little red wine gets on a serving platter.
Corkscrew: We have a super simple one to keep out near the wine bottles, but there are lots of beautiful vintage ones out there.
Tongs: I got this set of vintage wood tongs from Sequence Home Supply - they are better for serving salad or veggies but I used them for ice at our last party.
Ice bucket: I love my vintage terra cotta ice bucket, but there are tons of beautiful vintage options out there. I particularly like ones made out of ceramic, marble, and wood.
Wine chiller: I found this one at the thrift store, and it's nice for keeping white wine cool rather than having to go back and forth to the fridge.
Drink dispenser: We have two of these drink dispensers and have really liked them for serving water or mixed drinks for larger groups.
Glasses: While we have some fun cocktail glasses, my favorite glasses are these stackable bodega glasses. They come in three sizes and are perfect for every day use and are easy to replace if they break. They also remind me of European cafes!
Cocktail napkins: Smaller napkins are perfect to use with drinks and appetizers.
Vase for greenery: I use our wine carafes and vintage pitchers for vases - multi-functional items are the best!
Votive candles: I like putting these glass votives all around the house - such a simple pretty touch.
Appetizers + Snacks
The second most important part of a party is the snacks. Sometimes if people offer to contribute something we'll ask them to bring a snack or appetizer - you can never have too many, and it's nice to have options. I also like displaying the desserts with the appetizers - even though they aren't served until later in the evening they are so pretty and are a nice addition to the spread!
Charcuterie board: Crackers, cheeses, meats, fresh & dried fruit, mustard, honey, jam, nuts, baguette
Vintage mustard jar: The one pictured is from Sequence Home Supply, and I have a couple others that were my grandparents.
Charcuterie utensils: I like having accent pieces and charcuterie utensils and cheese knives are the perfect way to add a little texture or color. I love my vintage wood-handled ones.
Cake stands: We have a ceramic and a glass cake stand, and while they aren't necessary, but I love displaying desserts on them!
Wood platter: A pretty way to protect furniture/linens from spills.
Wood serving bowls to serve tortilla chips, fruit, olives, artichoke hearts, and other veggies
Glass serving bowls for salsa and hummus
Appetizer plates: I have a collection of vintage wood plates that are perfect for appetizers.
Tablecloth: All of ours are from Target - they have great affordable linen and cotton options!
Napkins: Paper or cloth
Candles to set the mood
Dinnerware + Serveware
The best type of dinnerware and serveware depends on the vibe you are going for. For really casual events like outdoor summer cookouts, I'll use paper plates, cups, and napkins and use as many non-breakable serving items as possible. For more formal gatherings I'll use our ceramic plates and glassware. Below are the things we use and love for a more formal dinner party.
Butter crock (vintage)
Salt & pepper shakers (vintage)
Vases (vintage carafes)
Candles (vintage from Otherwise Shoppe)
Bread bowls (vintage)
Serving platters (vintage)
Soup tureen (vintage)
Serving utensils (vintage)
Whether you are hosting a sit-down dinner party or a more casual get-together, comfortable and accessible seating is key. I like setting up little seating areas around the house in groups of 2-5, with flexibility to suggest that chairs can be moved to form smaller/bigger groups if necessary. I've found that people naturally flow towards their own little groups and conversations if chairs are already set up for them.
We typically have larger groups over (the more the merrier is my motto!) and so only use the table for buffet-style serving and push it against the wall. When we do have a sit-down dinner, I'll have chairs set up in the living room pre-dinner, and then just move them to the table when the food is ready.
Dining table: We intentionally got an extendable dining table for when we have larger groups for parties or holidays.
Dining chairs: We purchased a matching set of 8 dining chairs - we keep 6 around the table at all times and keep the other two in other rooms around the house. It's nice to have a couple of extras to pull out for additional seating in the living room or around the table.
Folding chairs: For even bigger groups we got a set of four folding wood chairs - our table fits up to 12 people so we wanted to have the option to seat 12 around it. I love these chairs because they are nice looking, comfortable, and fold nicely for storage when not in use.
Set the Mood
Before your guests arrive, cue the music, light some candles, dim the lights, and decorate with some greenery. Make sure the bathroom is clean, tidy, and easy to find.
Bluetooth speaker: Music is essential for a cozy get together. I have a few pre-made playlists that I'll put on for some background music. We love our bluetooth gramophone - it looks cool and has nice sound quality.
Votive candles: Candles really make a room feel pretty and special. I like these glass ones that look nice but are inexpensive and easy.
Candlesticks: For a little extra ambiance I'll set up a couple of taper candles around the dining and/or entryway table. There are so many gorgeous and unique vintage candleholder options out there. I particularly like candleholders made of glass and wood.
Vases: I like to have as many multi-functional items in our house as possible. Instead of having a bunch of vases, I like using our vintage pitchers and wine decanters to hold greenery and flowers.
Greenery: Trader Joes is my favorite place to find greenery - it's affordable and they have a lot of really nice options. I particularly like olive branches, eucalyptus, and other greens.
Scented candle: While I like to keep scented candles away from food, they are perfect to use in the bathroom. Definitely don't forget to make the bathroom clean and cozy for your guests!
This post is not sponsored or in partnership with any of the aforementioned brands, and there are no affiliate links included. All opinions are my own.