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How to Throw a Dinner Party

If you’ve been holding off throwing a party because you think your place is too small, or you’re embarrassed that it’s unfinished or not decorated like you want, or you have some archaic idea that parties should be big, or glamorous, or whatever… stop.

Wherever you live, you can throw some kind of dinner party. It may only be for three people, or maybe you’ll surprise yourself by fitting in 15 people or more. But if you have a desire to bring people into your home, if you love your friends and love cooking and want to share food with them, you can and should do it! Everything else can be worked around or managed, but you have to commit to throwing a party first.

Set the Mood.

Almost anything is improved with good mood lighting. If you can help it, don’t use overhead lights. The overhead lights in most apartment use energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs — great for never having to change a lightbulb, but terrible for atmospheric lighting.

Instead rely on lamps with a warm white light, tea lights and candles, or string lights.

A softer, warmer, dimmer light is just cozier overall, but it also serves to mask any apartment imperfections you might be concerned about. For example, if you didn’t get a chance to dust your bookshelf or you don’t want your guests to see any stains on the living room carpet..will help mask that. So whatever your insecurities about your small place, good mood lighting makes everything look and feel better.

Make it a collaborative experience.

Try doing a chalkboard menu. It’s nice how a handwritten wall menu at a small dinner party is a touch of the formal in an informal setting. It will also draws guests more fully into the experience by giving them a glimpse into what the evening holds. Of course, anything that engages your guests in some way — gets them participating, talking, anticipating — is always a good thing.

Realize it won’t all be perfect, and that’s okay.

It’s always a friendly reminder to know that friends are our friends for a reason. If the dumplings for the soup don’t come together perfectly, or dessert is a little late, or you have to run out for more wine, or you’re exhausted by the end of the night and just want to sit and listen and not play “hostess” anymore.. that’s all good. The whole reason you threw a dinner party in the first place is to get together and enjoy each other’s company and some good food. Good friends will undoubtedly understand if things don’t go perfectly, and will probably even jump in and offer to help out. Trust me, no one is expecting you to be Martha Stewart!

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