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Food, drink, friends, good conversation — a dinner party is, in the end, a simple and enduring combination of ingredients, made unique by what hosts and guests infuse the evening with. To help you achieve a more flawless and fun-filled gathering, here are a set of guidelines with everything you need to know about throwing your best dinner party.

Advance planning will ultimately make a dinner party that much easier to pull off. Making accurate lists and giving yourself plenty of time for each task will minimize chaos and help you tackle the inevitable glitches that arise. Keeping it simple for yourself is crucial. Yours should reflect the aesthetic of your evening and the level of formality you wish to communicate. For more casual events, an or e-vite can work.

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Ask guests to R. Your invitation should include the time and date of your event, the location address, the theme of the party if there is one, a deadline for sending the R. Your guests will most likely bring something, so recommend bringing what would actually be helpful. Be specific in your requests, especially when guests ask what they can bring — it will make the choice easier for them and more useful for you.

When considering your invites, remember that today paper post is a rarity and makes a statement of real intent, so reserve it for when you are planning a ificant or fancier evening. Even the New York invitation deer Ellen Weldon says she just phones up her guests for an intimate dinner party. She also sends thank you notes to her guests for special occasions. There are a of easy online options that allow you to quickly create invitations and send them to your guests, as well as keep track of your R.

Other sites help you create e-vites that mimic the feel of old-fashioned paper invitations with some technological benefits, such as Google maps of the location and automatic reminders for your guests to R. Paperless Post offers free and premium des with the option to order printed versions. Pingg features a range of original work by artists and Punchbowl offers organizing tools like date-planning with your friends, but both will hit your invitees with unless you pay a membership fee.

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Consider your guest list before you send the invitations. How many people can fit comfortably in your space? Have you included a friend or two who will give you a hand during the party if needed — and who can help facilitate conversation? Be sure to get your R. Nina Yasharthe Milan de gallerist known for her harmoniously mixed interiors, says her dinner parties have frequently introduced her guests to new best friends and business partners, because of her tendency to invite two old friends and two new friends to every affair. A dinner party is a great way to acquaint new people, but trusty friends and conversationalists are indispensable.

Their ease will invite others to take the same attitude. Among guests, shared interests, professional fields or a sense of humor will also help. Calm or boisterous? Intimate or packed with new acquaintances? This is very much about who you are and what you want your guests to experience. When Missoni planned the celebration for her 20th anniversary in charge of the brand, she was so committed to recreating a warm, welcoming feel that she brought in trucklo of colorful vintage furniture and decorations from her own house to the party space.

Need some inspiration? Turn off a few lamps and light plenty of candles. Whether you use a silver candelabra or a handful of tea lights, soft illumination is one of the easiest and most important ways you can transform your space. The easiest way to make your home feel festive and inviting is to fill your space with a bit of the natural world. To make the most of your flowers, the Los Angeles-based florist Eric Buterbaugh advises removing all leaves and thorns that would be below water level in the vase and cutting stems at a slight angle to help hydrate your blooms. For an alternative to a single possibly view-blocking centerpiece, place buds in tiny vases or lay branches of greenery or wild berries directly on the table.

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Also recommended: piles of fruit. A bowl of cherries, grapes or clementines on the table looks lovely and makes for an easy dessert course at the end of the dinner. Think of your tablescape as more than just serving accoutrements for food and drinks — it is, in fact, the scenery for the theater of dinner that you are crafting. Your table linens, plates, silverware, glasses and decorations are visual clues to your guests.

Traditional styles create a refined ambience; a colorful mix will create a more lighthearted one. Paravicini will use an array of different plates and glasses found at flea markets that have some similar trait — dishes of varying des but with shades of blue throughout, or similarly shaped goblets in a rainbow of tones. It also creates a topic of conversation. Martina Mondadori, the editor of the maximalist de magazine Cabanaadvises that to create a tablescape you should start with a tablecloth you like — and build up the look you want from there.

For inspiration, search for images of table settings online, on Pinterest and on Instagram — there are endless ways to use dishes, napkins, place cards, candelabras, centerpieces, tablecloths and decorations to create a unique and striking tablescape. This well-made tablecloth is available in eight sizes, and features a tight weave that gives it a structured drape. This versatile bone china collection is suitable for everyday use yet elegant enough for formal dinner parties. More Wirecutter dinnerware picks.

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Make your playlists ahead of time and pick the songs you love — this is about welcoming guests into your domain after all — as long as they will make you and your guests feel happy and relaxed. He encourages avoiding monotony with your choices and mixing music genres so everyone finds something to love. Michel Gaubertthe go-to D. While you may think that a dinner party requires extraordinary feats of cooking to impress your guests, the most important aspect of your menu is that it can be prepared almost entirely before any guests arrivefreeing you up to host.

Having trouble finding a solution? Pull a friend into the kitchen and solicit ideas along with a bit of commiseration and perhaps a glass of wine. At more casual affairs, disposable tableware, especially palm-leaf plates and bamboo utensils, can stand in, says Fornasetti. Sodi will sometimes throw cooking parties where she invites everyone into the kitchen, with a case of wine on the countertop, to help her prepare dishes.

This classic-looking set includes the most useful knives for home-kitchen use, plus pull-apart kitchen shears, a honing steel, and a storage block. Plan dishes that you can make the day before and then heat up in the oven or on the stovetop. Almost all soups and stews only improve overnight. Quichespies, roasted meats and sauces also do well.

Most baked or refrigerated desserts can be prepared a day ahead and stored, or you can purchase a dessert from a bakery or grocery store. Consider preparing a dessert in ramekins if you have a set at home so individual servings will be a breeze — but remember that cake and tart recipes will need less oven time in the small containers. Any other dishes should use recipes that can be partially prepared and finished with a simple step or two when guests arrive, like fish in parchment paper that can marinate ahead of time and then be finished in the oven, without keeping you in the kitchen for oversight.

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Sophie Buhai shoots for making her dishes as artfully three-dimensional as the sculptural jewelry she des. Most high-impact plate presentations are really the result of a simple tool or trick. When choosing what beverages to serve, consider what might go well with your menu, what you like to drink yourself and what the group might enjoy. Think also about what kind of night this should be. Do you want a tequila-induced dance party or a sparkling water-supported business card exchange? Otherwise, wine is the standard libation for dinner parties.

A milliliter bottle contains about five glasses of wine. After that, you can progress to white or red wine with the dinner. With the attitude that wine should be as high-quality as the food you serve, Riera recommends choosing natural wineswhich eschew additives in farming and vinification for what enthusiasts like Riera say is a healthier and more expressive wine. Recommended Natural Wines:. This inexpensive tulip-shaped glass is durable for daily use, yet still thin and elegant enough for dinner parties.

More Wirecutter wine glass picks. Just a few bucks gets you a reliable and easy-to-use manual opener. The double-hinge makes pulling the cork out of a bottle a simple process. More Wirecutter corkscrew picks.

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As host, your job is to help guests get acquainted and comfortable with each other. Get them chatting by including a tidbit about each person when you introduce them, and if two guests share a common interest, be sure to add that on as well. Otherwise, an engaging detail about one of the guests — a recent trip, an exciting new job or any ificant life event — will start the conversation. Beyond that, the best gift you can give your guests is to set the tone yourself by being relaxed and convivial, regardless of whatever disasters might have befallen you in the kitchen.

In our multifaceted modern era, it seems there are no commonly agreed-upon rules for etiquette. Standards are generally much more relaxed today than in the past, but to avoid gaffes, consider the dinner party as an arena in which a shared set of rules is established by observation. Tower admonishes guests to abandon the navel-gazing tendencies of our contemporary culture and prioritize thinking about others at the dinner party — first and foremost the host.

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