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While summer socializing is all about exploring beaches, rooftop spots and city streets, winter calls for a different strategy. Snow and freezing temperatures can make the prospect of venturing away from home to meet friends less appealing. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix, not to mention classy, for those looking to get together with friends over the holiday season and beyond, one that doesn’t even require leaving your home: dinner.
Planning a dinner party can seem daunting, but with a little careful planning, it’s a cinch. The right strategy for hosting a dinner party is to organize the right guest list, plan the menu, set up table decor, and create the perfect mood and outfit.
This year, in the interest of giving you a hands-on introduction, I hosted an early vacation dinner for six of my loved ones and took some notes. Below are my top tips and ideas for hosting the perfect dinner without the stress of the holidays.
Make a guest list
The first and most obvious ingredient in any successful dinner party is the guests. Six is a perfect number. Quatre is charming and intimate, but less of a party and more of a group dinner, while Eight is likely to spend the whole evening in parting conversations.
Of course, you can improvise with numbers depending on what you and your apartment can handle. If the guests at your party might not already know each other, consider making place cards to seat the people you think could get along side by side. After all, there’s no better place to spark a business relationship or romantic partnership than at dinner!
Store your bar cart
Whether you’re serving wine, cocktails, or non-alcoholic drinks, you’ll want to make sure your guests have something to drink with dinner. If you’re serving more substantial meat, red wine could be a great match; fish and vegetables go well with white or rosé. In honor of the hot button Sex and the city reboot, I served Sarah Jessica Parker’s new sauvignon blanc made in collaboration with Invivo X on my last evening.
If you’re serving cocktails, do like Jenn Batchelor, founder of Kin Euphorics, and set up a beverage station so you don’t have to worry about filling glasses all night. “The key is to have at least one cooler on hand with frozen drinks and don’t forget a separate ice bucket for cocktails,” says Batchelor.
And don’t forget a signature drink! “Preparing at least one ‘house cocktail’ is very helpful,” says Batchelor, who recommends an alcohol-free sangria, giving guests the option to top it off with cognac or champagne. As for after-dinner cocktails, I go for espresso martinis for a fun, party-friendly twist on post-prandial coffee – and as a tribute to the espresso martini’s status as the drink of the year. Loverboy is pre-made in a can, and continues my evenings for several hours.
Prepare food for cocktail hour
You’ll want to have something to eat for the guests while they enjoy their appetizers, to keep everyone in the right mood for dinner. A cheese and cold meats board is a classic option that can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. A good rule of thumb is to have a mix of soft and hard cheeses with at least three options, plus a prosciutto or salami.
Top it all off with crackers or baguette and if desired, add nuts, jams, mustards, grapes and pickles. I usually make a big cheese and meat spread and add sliced veggies and hummus for one of my vegan friends. And when in doubt, remember what all cool hotel bars know: A bowl of wasabi peas never hurt anyone.
Prepare or order food in advance
Unless the thought of planning things and cooking from scratch fills your heart with joy, let me recommend that you order for your first dinner party. And while you can always order from a trusted local place, there is a way to make ordering more exciting than your traditional takeout. I use Goldbelly, which partners with the best restaurants and chefs across the country to deliver ready-to-go food from their kitchens to your table.
While it was nearly impossible to narrow my menu down when the options included the likes of Gramercy Tavern, Blue Ribbon Sushi, and Russ & Daughters, I opted for the iconic Israeli restaurant Taim on my last dinner, which had plenty of dishes. vegans and non-vegans. similar options. Pro tip: order just a little more food you think you need – you never know how long people will want to linger around the table. Plus, leftovers are never a bad thing!
And a few thoughtful touches can always make your order more luxurious and more homey. I served She Wolf Bakery – the woman-founded supplier to many of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants – with extra virgin olive oil from Kosterina and Italian balsamic vinegar straight from Greece with dinner. After dinner I ended the evening by pulling out the frosting and asking my guests to help me decorate the gingerbread cookies I had baked that afternoon while we sipped martinis. espresso.
Set the mood
Preparing the table and your apartment before dinner should get you excited and in the mood for your party. Set the mood by lighting candles around the apartment – Maison Louis Marie 004s are still burning in mine – and create a warm and festive playlist. I made a playlist of holiday classics by Eartha Kitt, Bing Crosby and Noel Coward for my last event, but you can get in the mood anytime of the year with jazz, or always them. excellent playlists provided by the Hotel Costes, which happens to be one of the best hotels in Paris.
Don’t think too much about it when it comes to setting the table. A simple white plate and bowl can easily be elevated with beautiful placemats or napkins, like this beautiful set from Camilla. A few tea candles scattered in votives on the table will give everyone an illuminated glow from within, and a simple vase of flowers placed at one end of the table will add some greenery without preventing everyone from seeing each other.
And while you can serve drinks in standard clear wine glasses, the colorful mouth-blown Poland sets by Estelle Colored Glass essentially eliminate the need for any other table setting.
Dress to shiver
And finally, you will have to consider your outfit. While the traditional dinner advice is to dress comfortably in your own home, I say dinner / party gives you the flexibility to wear your prettiest and most uncomfortable shoes, as well as tops and bottoms. the most daring dresses without having to worry about your sore feet or wardrobe malfunctions occurring far away from safety. You’ll be in control of your look all night long and can always slip into something more comfortable if needed. Go big, you are already home!