After a long and drawn-out pandemic, folks are more than ready to plan and present a gorgeous dinner party for friends and family! How in depth and formal your event is to be depends upon your own taste and style, of course. There are a few things, regardless, which stand the test of time to be necessary whether you want a full “do” with cocktail party clothing, a tiki bar presentation, or a group of friends casually sitting around a fire-pit. What do you need to make a perfect backyard dinner party?
Choose a Theme
Themes continue to shift for everything, including dinner parties! After a long time of not being able to have any parties, having fun or quirky themes seems to be on trend. This also incorporates clothing or costumes which nobody has been enjoying during pandemic! However, if your friend circle is far more casual and less theatrical, a general theme of “please, come as you are and enjoy yourself,” can be a lovely theme as well.
Send Out the Invites
Invitations vary according to trends as well, and according to your theme and your preference for formality. Whereas formal invitations in days of yore might be important, ordered in advance, and customized by hand, digital options are much easier now! Try Facebook Events to create a party time and place and give ongoing information. Evites also has free features where guests can check in and choose to participate. But, in a pinch, text is just fine!
Your drinks, as always, should fit the theme of your party! In a world where everything has been strikingly solemn for over a year, it seems important to have fun around you, and this includes both colors and presentation of drink options. If your group uses alcohol to celebrate, as many do, make sure you have inclusions which are fun for those who do not partake. It makes it more fun for everyone if there’s something for the designated driver!
Appetizer options are numerous and wonderful, but one thing is on trend this season- safety. Whereas you don’t need to worry as much with a vaccinated group, of course, being thoughtful to individualized portions is important. Small appetizers which can be moved with a toothpick or skewer are definitely on-trend! You can add a decorative look with colorful toothpicks to your appetizers. There are many options of decorative picks, including wooden and plastic options, some in fanciful shapes. Bamboo picks are wonderful options for sturdiness and ecological sustainability.
Light The Way
Regardless of how beautiful your home or yard, overhead lighting is generally set to light a full room starkly. You want to light up your home in a way that is softer. This might include fairy lights in the garden, or gentle lighting in your home. But whichever way it is, turn off the stark lights and use gentle lights, lamps, and firelight instead.
Make Enough Food
It gets tricky when figuring out how to create enough food for enough people with enough variation to please both the eye and palate. This, however, has no specific amount which can be said to be “perfect” for every group of friends, of course! However, there are reasonable calculators to work towards a good estimate. It’s important to be able to plan most of your dishes ahead, so that you can cook the day before, or prepare most things in advance. This helps with staging and plating foods, but also with making sure that if there are any issues, you can fix them long before the party time! No more stress or a frazzled host!
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
If you are doing formal place settings, remember that we are finishing a pandemic. You want the focus to be upon your food and company, not your table settings. Instead of complicated fork and spoon arrangements, try a simple system and help create a new standard. If even less formally presented, settings can be created on knees and laps sitting in the backyard, so you don’t need to be overwhelmed. It is fine to have a dinner party using china if you prefer. It is also fine to have a dinner party on paper plates, if that makes your life easier. Goblets are delightful, but aluminum cans can be, too. Use your own judgment to match your theme, and make your later clean-up easy.
After the pandemic, people might be open to more social activities. You might find that friends who would have refused board games or karaoke before might now think this is a fun evening. Everyone has leaned into their quirks during this time, and might be more willing to find time to do things they formerly thought were silly, because part of being an adult is knowing when to be silly. Be prepared, however, for your guests to also possibly be more entertained speaking to one another and merely being together. So, you don’t want to have an agenda, only options!
More than anything else, though, remember that your party does not need to be perfect to be delightful! You don’t need to be under a great deal of stress. Humans have felt separated from one another during covid—the ability to be together is the most critical part of your party. Invite those whom you’ve genuinely missed and longed to see their smiles and hear their voices. Prepare food and drinks, and the option of games or fun. But what your friends need, however, is you. Unlike parties in the before-times, allow more flow in your schedules. Give estimates for things like a cocktail hour, so your guests don’t arrive in the midst of dinner. Quite possibly, your friends have been looking forward to sitting and talking together, whether in larger or breakaway small groups, and that is, after all, the most critical part of your party.
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