Dinner Party Ideas

28 Feb

FuMin Dinner Party

Dinner parties don’t have to be fancy pull-your-hair-out affairs. They can be a convenient way to fit in time with family and friends between work trips, holidays, and extracurricular chauffeuring.

The trick is to make them easy and fun.

Here are my favorite 5 dinner party ideas. I’d love to hear yours, too!

Pumpkin Day Buffet

1. Potluck

Who has time to cook a full Thanksgiving-worthy feast? And even if you do, chances are, you’ll have dinner parties less if they’re such a time (and money) commitment.

You make the main entrée and have everyone else bring a dish. Easy.

2. Musical Chairs Invite

Our most successful year of dinner parties involved a repeat invitation to all of our Seattle friends for the third Saturday of every month. Our dining table maxed out at ten, so the rule was: the first eight to respond make up the guest list.

The best part about it? Then we always had a new mix of friends each time, and it was small enough that people who didn’t know each other got a chance to talk and get acquainted in a more intimate setting than a big party.

3. Rotating Host

If you start gathering a committed group of dinner partiers, share the effort by taking turns having the get together at each other’s houses. Even if you only have six couples, that’s only two dinners you have to host all year, and yet you’ll have a dedicated friend event on your calendar every month.

4. Theme

The more creative, the better! Sure, picking a region can be fun, but think outside of the box, too. Three of our most talked-about dinner party themes were:

  • Pumpkin Day (now a reoccurring tradition)
  • Bring a dish that reminds you of your childhood
  • Make something with a kitchen tool you never use

All of these spurred a lot fun conversation, both at the table and long after.

LetterPotPies5. Personalized

Have your kids help you make name cards or place mats. Monogram pastries. Play a dinner-table get-to-know-you game. Brainstorm … The key is to add a little recognition and appreciate for your guests. Who doesn’t like that?

Remember to send or post your ideas, too. I’d love to hear them.

Happy dinner partying!

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6 Responses to “Dinner Party Ideas”

  1. Leslie February 28, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Love these ideas – wish we were there to participate in some of your dinner parties! Curious, though, what do you do with the kids? Do you have Szaba in bed during the party and the guests get babysitters? Start earlier and end in time for everyone to get home to put their kids to bed? We use to have dinner parties, but not many now that everyone has kids and our kids sleep and eat super early!

    • Angela Taylor Hylland March 1, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      You bring up a great point, Leslie. While admittedly all of these ideas originated pre-kids, we’ve been able to make it work with two approaches. #1: Have an early quick dinner for the kids around 5pm, then let them play nearby while the adults sit down to the real meal after. (They tend to come by and graze, too.) #2: If you don’t mind eating late, let the kids eat and play. Then put them to bed around 8, so the adults can site down to dinner after the tots are tucked in. We have extra beds, blow-up mattresses, and a Pack ‘n’ Play, so each kid can have their own bed and “space.” Not all parents are comfortable with putting their kids to bed elsewhere, but I say, try it! You never know. And they’ll likely be so tired from running around and playing, in which case, it could be easier than you think. Good luck!

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