Happy Thursday, Embarquers,
I understand that hosting dinner parties can be quite expensive before you even start buying the food and drinks. Here are some tips that I have for anyone that enjoys hosting dinner parties or plans on hosting them in the near future:
I suggest buying nice flatware for casual use and for dinner parties. This way you don’t have to buy two sets, and a nicer set of flatware (for everyday use and special occasion use) will last a longer time as well. I like the Oneida brand. It’s great quality and reasonably priced.
I know it’s fun to buy plates with bright colors and loud prints to fit the theme of a party but let’s be honest… this is isn’t a great idea. I would recommend buying simple and timeless white plates. White never goes out of style and coordinates with every color. Here is a great option. At the very least, I would buy a salad plate, dinner plate, bowl and coffee cup (which you can buy in sets). Again, I would recommend using the same set for personal and special occasion use (this cuts down on waste).
Another inexpensive option is faux china. This could be a great option for a very large dinner party where you simply don’t have that many plates the serve people.
If you feel the need to have some color, I would choose a silver, gold or black accent color, but keep it minimal.
I think stemware definitely depends on your audience and the occasion. If you’re having a formal dinner with wine and food pairings, then you need a red wine glass, a white wine glass, a cocktail glass (not set out on the table, but available if a cocktail is requested) and a water goblet at a minimum. If your guests are more relaxed, I would have one type of wine glass (your guests can choose one wine they would like to drink), a water glass and a cocktail glass.
The place I love to buy glasses is IKEA (believe it or not). They have a great selection and their glasses run about $2/glass. Another great place to buy wine glasses are the TJX stores (T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and HomeGoods). They generally come in a 6 pack box and are ~$10.
This is the place you can really have fun with the colors (without maxing out your credit card). There are thousands of options for beautiful fabric napkins. You can go online or in stores (depending on your schedule). I always find something at HomeGoods (they generally have an entire aisle dedicated to cloth napkins, runners and placemats)
If you’d like (and are on a very tight budget), feel comfortable in buy buying paper napkins. They are beautiful (and thriftier) option that allows you to buy different napkins for every event. Etsy.com is my favorite place to buy napkins.
Centerpieces and Decor
Do not, I repeat, do not put very fragrant flowers on your table. I know this seems counterintuitive, but there are few things worse (at a dinner party) than a giant stargazer lily in your face while trying to enjoy a nice meal with fragrant foods (the two scents don’t mix).
There are plenty of gorgeous non-fragrant flowers that would look just as beautiful in the centerpiece. Something you may want to try are floating (non-scented) candles (IKEA)with non-fragrant flowers (tulips, poppies, calla lilies, hydrangea, orchids, iris, gerbera daisies… etc… the list goes on). If there’s a flower that you love and have to have it at the party, I would recommend keeping it in a mingling area, and not where you’re eating. (Again, I always advise buying flowers at Trader Joe’s because they’re so inexpensive)
Also, make sure you don’t have some sort of tall centerpiece that prevents great conversation. Nobody wants to play peekaboo around the towering candlesticks.
Succulents are another great option for centerpieces. Since succulents are so popular right now, many people have them terrariums around the house (and if you don’t you can buy then for a dollar or two and keep for after the party).
I hope this has been helpful to you and you use it in the near future (especially with the holidays right around the corner).