We’ve declared this the Summer of Girlfriends. And, yes, you’re invited to join us. It’s a summer of inviting good friends over to enjoy the season. Of making the effort to connect with a girlfriend you haven’t seen in a while. Of picking up the phone and having a good long chat with a friend who lives in another time zone.
Guest blogger MAIRE HUNTER shares her tips for throwing a great dinner party. Whether your party is a formal, sit-down event or an hour of getting together on the back porch, we hope you’ll find a way to connect and reconnect with friends.
Dinner party season is coming into full swing as we approach the time of year when people feel the need to get out and have fun with friends. Having your girlfriends over for a dinner party provides a great excuse to get dressed up, eat fancy foods with French names, drink a few bottles of wine, and have a great time with the people you care about most. There’s not just one right way to throw a dinner party, but there are several elements you’ll need to think about and plan for to have a successful party.
Picking a Look
The overall look for your party will be the first thing your girlfriends notice, so pick something that will get them in the right mood and set the tone for the rest of the evening. Brainstorm some things you and your friends are interested in, whether they’re exotic countries, the color pink, the beach, or elegant restaurants. The look you create for your party has plenty of possibilities, and you can bring in the decor through the lighting, tablecloth, and centerpieces. Don’t be afraid to get creative, using fabric remnants as colorful table runners, or simple tea lights down the center of your table for an intimate gathering.
Planning the Meal
Since you’re throwing a dinner party, dinner is obviously a big part of the experience. Although you may be an adventurous cook who likes to try new recipes, it’s usually best to stick to a menu of dishes you’ve made before and know you can execute well. At most, try one new dish, and make it a nonessential one you can leave in the kitchen if it turns out poorly. Choose several dishes you can make ahead of time and serve right from the fridge or leave to simmer on the lowest setting of your gas range for an hour or two before the guests arrive. Soups are great starters, a salad is easy to make earlier in the day, and oven-baked main courses are perfect.
Making formal invitations is a lot of fun, and can be a great touch if you’re planning an elegant party. Otherwise, online invitations or phone calls should be sufficient invites. Make sure your invitation includes the date, time for the cocktail hour, time for dinner seating, and a hint at the theme or dress code. For example, you may call it a “casual summer garden party” or an “elegant formal dinner,” both of which give clues about attire.
Setting the Table
Depending on your living arrangements, setting the table may not be as easy as you originally hoped. Pull out the leaves or consider setting up a card table at the end of your dining table to make it look longer. Also, plan where you’ll get the chairs, perhaps borrowing some folding chairs if needed. Use real dishes if you have enough matching ones. Otherwise, opt for thick plastic plates and strong plastic flatware you’re sure will hold up. Place cards for assigned seating are a good idea if you want to set up conversation groups for people who may not know each other.
Being a Good Hostess
Putting your time and energy into planning the party before it happens can help things go more smoothly on the evening of the event. As the hostess, it’s your job to not only set up for the party and prepare food, but also to make each guest feel welcome. Plan some buffer time just before guests arrive so you can freshen up and be ready to greet people as they arrive. The party should be a time when you can really relax, enjoy each other’s company, and create some great memories of girlfriend time.
MAIRE HUNTER blogs on the behalf of Sears, she especially likes their gas ranges. When she isn’t blogging, she is usually walking her dog, Pete, or planning spectacular parties with her friends. Her favorite appetizer is baked brie in puff pastry.
More Girlfriend Party ideas …
- 10 Tips for a Frugal Girlfriend Party
- Girlfriend Birthday Celebration Ritual
- Academy Awards Party Ideas
- 5 Fun Groupons for a Girl’s Night Out / GNO
- Lunch Club – Girlfriend Get-togethers
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