You understand why dinner parties are so popular during the holidays if you’ve been to one that wowed you. They’re about so much more than the food. It’s also the drinks, the decor, the ambiance, and the way family and friends come together in a fun, festive environment.

Whether it’s your first one or you’re a seasoned party-thrower, you’ll find these tips helpful in elevating your next holiday dinner party so that it’s an unforgettable event for you and your guests.

Choose a Theme for Your Party

There’s nothing wrong with an impromptu dinner with family and friends where everyone shows up in their comfy clothes and hangs out. However, if the goal is to elevate your holiday dinner party, choose a theme for it.

A theme takes your dinner party from casual to having a specific vibe and structure. It also informs the rest of the decisions for your party, such as decor, food, and entertainment.

Here are some theme ideas for your holiday dinner party:

  • A beach or summer theme;
  • Holiday murder mystery dinner;
  • Black tie affair;
  • An around-the-world potluck;
  • Ugly sweater party;
  • Brunch for dinner;
  • Holiday costume party.

Think about what you love and what your guests would love and find a theme that accommodates both.

Decide on the Perfect Location

Many people host their dinner parties at their apartments or homes. However, there are other options for your dinner party’s location that can offer your guests a special experience.

For example, you could book a cabin in the woods for an intimate, nature-focused dinner party. You could take everyone to a private room at a nice restaurant and leave all the cooking and clean up to the staff. Or, you could see if a creative event space is available, like a winery or a castle.

Take into account your theme, budget, guest list, food, and entertainment plans when deciding on the perfect location for your party.

Send Out Gorgeous Invitations

While most people send a text, make a phone call, or reach out to guests on social media to invite them to dinner parties, you can set a more elegant tone with well-put-together invitations. There’s something about getting a physical invitation in the mail that’s visually stunning.

Creating invitations isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think. You can absolutely hand-make them if you have the time and are into creative projects.

Another option is using one of the many online platforms for creating invitations. You can alter elements of their templates to highlight your dinner’s theme, decor, menu, or another aspect of your party.

You can then get them printed and shipped to you so you can send them to your guests. Or, some platforms will send them to your guests for you.

Plan Your Menu Well In Advance

This is a dinner party. So, the food you serve is uber important. You’ll want to take your time and plan your menu well in advance of your holiday dinner party. This gives you time to put together a cohesive meal and practice if you’re the one cooking.

First, think about what kind of menu would go with your theme. List drinks, appetizers, main entrees, and desserts. Next, narrow down your list to 1-2 appetizers you’ll serve, your main entree choices, and dessert.

It’s important to offer options because everyone’s appetite and dietary needs differ. For example, people with Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have to avoid certain foods to keep their acid reflux symptoms in check, like dairy, alcohol, and spicy foods. With this in mind, you could offer non-dairy dessert options, non-alcoholic beverages, and an entree where your guests control the spice level.

Pay special attention to how your drinks, whether cocktails, wine, or non-alcoholic beverages, will pair with your courses too.

For instance, you could pair your baked oyster appetizer with a rosé. Your steak, soup, and salad entree would go well with a red wine. Then, you could pair your creme brulee dessert with a dessert-style wine. Drink pairings will give your dinner party that elegant, elevated feel. 

Write down or digitally document your menu and keep it in a safe place until you’re ready to go grocery shopping for your dinner party.

Get as Creative as You Want to With Decor

When it comes to decor, the sky is honestly the limit. You can be as creative as you want to be. Holiday dinner party decor isn’t restricted to the red, green, and white color scheme, Christmas trees, ornaments, and snowflakes. Your dinner party should reflect you.

For example, if you’re a nature lover, host your dinner party outdoors. Use your shed, awning, or another covering to create a sheltered space. Check the weather and make sure guests will stay cozy and comfortable with space heaters and blankets.

Set up candles, string lights, and other warm light options for a relaxed vibe. If you don’t have enough matching plates, glasses, chairs, and other accessories, embrace the mismatched aesthetic to give your party that whimsical feel. 

Create the visually stunning and comfortable ambiance you envision, even if it isn’t traditional.

Incorporate A Main Event

Dinner and good laughs and conversations with loved ones can carry a holiday dinner party. But we’re elevating our party this time around. So, incorporate a main event into the evening to really stand out.

Here are a handful of main event ideas to get you started:

  • Do an auction;
  • Host a paint-and-sip;
  • Host a wrapping paper fashion show;
  • Do a cookie swap or white elephant gift exchange;
  • Have a choir, orchestra, or other musical act perform.

Tie your main event into your theme and try the other tips on this list, and your guests will leave your holiday dinner party with a treasured memory. 

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