2018 was what I called “Glow Up Year” and 2019 will be the “Level Up” Everyone is looking to come together and celebrate something these days. Whether you’re planning a dinner party for your best friend who is getting married, or you are turning 30, or you’re looking to do something grand for the holidays or you and your favorite influencers wanted to get together and celebrate accomplishments, planning a dinner party can be overwhelming just as much as it can be joyous. There are so many steps to making sure your night is memorable, not only for yourself, but also for your guests. You want your event to be a celebration an also be executed flawlessly. It can be a lot of pressure, especially if this is your first time. But I’m going to let you in on a few of my tips as an event planner and also someone who loves a good dinner party! This post originally appeared on FoodBeforeLove.com.
Tip 1: Utilize Online Invitations
Printed invitations are great especially for weddings and baby showers but we’re at a time where some of us hardly even open our mailboxes let alone read our mail so I wouldn’t advise you to waste your time licking envelopes and buying stamps. (How much does a stamp cost nowadays anyway?) To send out invitations, I use Paperless Post. It’s an online invitation, stationary and card website. You can choose through hundreds of unique themes, customize your invitation and email it to as many people as you need. The best part about this tool is that you can also manage your event by tracking who has RSVP’d, create reminders for your attendees, and make changes to the event when necessary.
First time using Paperless Post? Join here.
Tip 2: Choose the Most Appropriate Venue to Host your Dinner
Your venue and theme go hand in hand for your dinner party. What do you want your guests to see, feel and experience from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. For an intimate setting I suggest hosting a dinner party somewhere private. You can find intimate spaces on Peerspace and rent a space for a few hours and even some AirbNb’s allow you to book a space for the day. If you’re planning a bigger dinner party, halls and restaurants make great venues.
Tip 3: Food is Everything so Choose the Right Caterer/Restaurant and Menu
This is a dinner party right? So food pretty much is the biggest task of planning your dinner party. It goes without saying that the food should be incredible. But a few questions you want to ask yourself and also make sure you have covered are:
Who is making the food? Are they reliable?
How many people will be served?
Is the caterer/restaurant’s service good?
Are you having buffet style or a plated dinner?
How many courses will you serve?
Does anyone have allergies or special meal preferences/diets?
Does the menu you have chosen match the theme of the event?
These are some of the most important questions you have when planning the food portion of your event. But if you have a great caterer/restaurant then this part of your job will be easier to handle.
Tip 4: Plan to Have an Activity for Your Diners to Engage in
Yes at a dinner party at some point everyone will be eating and talking but what if everyone isn’t familiar with each other? Or maybe you’re planning to wait until the guest of honor arrives before everyone sits at the table. So what do you do when everyone is awkwardly standing around and only talking to the person that they know or came with? I think it’s a great idea to have a game, or good music or an engaging activity that will set the mood until it’s time to eat. I’m sure at networking events you’ve played games to get to know people, it at least gets people to loosen up and talk.
If you have an event where people don’t know each other, have everyone take a card filled with random questions, have everyone fill out the card with information about themselves. Then at some point before dinner starts, collect the cards, shuffle them and then hand them out at random. Then allow people to move about and try to locate the person whose card is in their hand. It could be cheesy, it could be fun but at least everyone isn’t standing awkwardly looking at each other.
Tip 5: Ask for Help Because Your Team and Vendors Make Any Event Successful
There is no way one person can execute an entire event by themselves and if you think you can do it by yourself, you’re either going to be extremely stressed or extremely unsuccessful. Having a team doesn’t mean that you have twenty people planning your event, it means that you have vendors on your team who can execute your vision. These vendors include caterers, florists, audio-visual people, DJ’s, photographers, entertainers, bakers, make-up artists, clothing designers, chefs, event designers and anyone who can help you make your event a success. Doesn’t it feel so much better to know that planning your event doesn’t have to be done alone?
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