Good day, design friends! Peggi here. I hope you are cruising through a balmy, abundant spring headed for a hot, happening summer. If your plans include hosting, today’s post is for you! Throwing a dinner party might be my most favorite artistic outlet. From choosing a theme and assembling a beautiful tablescape to creating a unique (and delicious!) menu, I absolutely relish every step. I recognize not everyone shares my level of entertaining exuberance though. No problem! Whether you favor a small, casual gathering; a festive, pasta-making girls’ night; or a formal, assigned-seats dinner party, my process works. Click through for scrumptious ideas and gustatory inspiration.
First, let’s talk theme. Regardless of the design enterprise, an overall vision helps guide my choices. As a person who feels compelled to consider every conceivable option, parameters save my time and sanity. Anybody else struggle with focus? I also find that restrictions actually promote creativity. Besides these benefits, conceptualizing a theme is a hoot! Wouldn’t you want an invite to a Harry Styles Meets Cher Bridge Night? A dinner party scheme can, of course, be simpler. Plan your event around a color, an ingredient or a cuisine. We’re really just discussing inspiration, so no need to feel confined. Think riff, not rigid.
Click right on the images to be redirected to the source, or use the numbered links below to shop my finds. Not all are clickable.
01: sunday suppers // 02: green flatware // 03: green tumbler // 04: sweet laurel // 05: striped tablecloth // 06: iris bowl // 07: block print napkins // 08: bird and butterfly platter // 09: flowered plates // 10: sweet laurel savory // 11: ripple champagne flute // 12:splatter dinner plates // 13: woven serving tray
Although I enjoy entertaining all year, today’s roundup says summer to me. The soft colors and cheerful patterns feel fresh and lively. I’d combine every piece to create a magnificent maximalist table, but one or two added to classic white would be equally fab! Sarah has scads of fantastic cookbooks in the shop at the moment, but I chose three that fit my palette. Ha. Keep reading for more thoughts on tablescapes.
While establishing a theme is completely optional, a lovely table setting feels key. It’s the stage for your delectable feast, after all! Naturally, I try to align my dinnerware and decorations with the evening’s motif, but ultimately, I’m just aiming for dazzling. (no pressure) My must-haves include: layered tablecloths, linen napkins, and a playful mix of china and glassware. I also plan coordinating dessert settings and specific serving pieces. No last minute scurrying in search of a salad bowl for this girl. Depending on my whims and whether I’m serving family style or buffet, I also add taper candles, small floral arrangements or other appealing accoutrement. I enjoy a bountiful look! However, if this degree of detail seems daunting, simplify! The goal is a thoughtful, welcoming presentation that makes your guests feel special, not a pre-dinner apoplexy!
Obviously, the most essential element of a dinner party is…the dinner! Whenever I’m developing a menu, I always follow a similar procedure. I start with the one dish I’m most excited to make and build from there. This doesn’t have to be the entrée! I’ve constructed various meals around a stellar celery salad, a delicious date dip, or a luscious apple thyme cake. No matter where I begin, my spread will always include a main, multiple vegetable items (raw and cooked), bread, and a sweet treat. If I’m intent on including an appetizer, I might reduce the number of sides. I can’t have folks too full for dessert!
When seeking specific recipes, I keep the overall interplay of flavors, textures and colors in mind. I want contrast and balance. For example, the celery salad delivered crunchy, lemony, briney goodness, so I paired it with an earthy, creamy lentil mushroom stew. Roasted paprika carrots added a bit of orange and spice. Instead of another salad, I opted for an hors d’oeuvre: polenta squares topped with cranberry pepper relish. Browns, greens, orange, yellow, reds. Incorporating tons of vegetables is clutch for the palette and the palate! Contemplating food pairings based on color and texture may sound strange, but it yields interesting, tasty and nutritious results. Give it a try!
What do you think, friends? Do you enjoy entertaining too? Where are my fellow kitchen adventurers? I know some folks find hosting stressful. We certainly don’t want that! Sharing meals with friends is about joy and community. Nobody really cares if the hot dogs got a little burnt. Speaking of which, who’s got big barbecue plans for the holiday weekend? Until next time.
ColleenMay 24, 2023 at 6:00 am
Good Morning Peggi,
How are you? A beautiful roundup and post full of entertaining inspiration. I’ve always loved hearing of your themed dinner parties. You are so very creative and thoughtful when planning a special event. We don’t entertain as much as we used to, in recent years it’s more impromptu. Come on over for a swim and we’ll throw a beer can chicken on the BBQ kind of entertaining ☺️ However, occasionally there is a special event to get a bit more fancy and put more effort in the plan. I’ve got green on the brain these days so #2 green cutlery, #3 green tumblers #5 striped tablecloth and #10 cookbook immediately caught my eye. Summer parties are my favorite as I prefer to be outside. Since installing our pool we’ve had to convert to plastic and melamine on the patio, no glass on the pool deck so it’s been an adjustment entertaining. As our kitchen is smallish I’ve had to edit to accommodate melamine patio dinnerware. Thankfully the selection is much better than it used to be and much prettier too. When I entertain in spring or summer fresh cut floral arrangements from my garden are a must. I made two beautiful arrangements this past weekend. Lily of the valley are in bloom and smell delightful as well as lilac. Also I made a very pretty arrangement with bridal spirea ❤️ So lots of pretty flowers are definitely my go to decoration 😜 A tablecloth or table runner with pretty placemats and napkins are a must for me as well. And candles too for ambiance, I think you know my weakness for candles and I always have a decent stash on hand 😉 of course the food is most important and I usually attempt new recipes. Most of the time it works out 😆 Your posts always get me motivated Peggi and inspire my desires for being a bit more creative. I keep things pretty simple but I’m itching to dazzle it up! Haha! I hope you have a fabulous Wednesday and enjoy the Memorial day weekend ahead. We recently celebrated this past weekend in Canada Victoria Day with the first swim and spa of the year! Woohoo! We are opened for lots of outdoor fun and pool parties 🥂🥳🍾 Cheers!
PeggiMay 24, 2023 at 7:47 am
Good morning, Colleen! I’m ever envious of your outdoor entertaining spaces! I could probably take a cue from you and host more impromptu gatherings. I do complicate things unnecessarily sometimes. Ha. I think I must have green on the mind too…which I noticed as I typed the numbered links. Those green tumblers in Sarah’s shop are just gorgeous! Although I have a great obsession with all things vintage china, it is fragile! I have also noticed the amazingly lovely melamine options. Some truly classic designs. Definitely a must for outside dining. (Which my pups recently reminded me by crashing my wine onto the patio bricks😭) You always speak my floral language! My lilies of the valley are blooming too; I just love their dainty nodding bells. I bet your arrangements steal the show! Definitely another wonderful creative outlet. I’d love to see pictures of your garden. Sigh. I’m also excited to hear that you try new recipes when you entertain. I know some folks advise against it, but where’s the fun in playing it safe? I do usually hedge my bets by making some elements in advance and having back-up recipes. Ha. Speaking of cooking…how’s the kitchen project going? Have you given the wallpaper a try? I know once the weather warms, convincing myself to work on inside projects become difficult! Summer is short! Cheers to a holiday weekend and plenty of time in the sun!😎
ColleenMay 24, 2023 at 9:02 am
I love flowers, trees and everything nature inspired so I guess that’s my dinner party theme. Lol. As for my kitchen project it’s been on hold due to gardening and getting the pool and patio ready for this past weekend. However Ive made progress since returning from Florida. I have 5 upper cabinets left to paint and am hoping to getting them completed this week. As for the wallpaper I’ve decided against it and going to paint the walls instead. I’ve always admired Cole and Son birch tree wallpaper for many years however I never wallpapered before and was scared to try it. So I got excited when I found a peel and stick of a tree wallpaper pattern ( not as beautiful as Cole and Son obviously) but I purchased it anyway. I’ve had several large swatches in the kitchen for the past couple of weeks and while I love the nature inspired pattern I think the scale is too large for my galley kitchen. Oops! It doesn’t seem to work, darn it! I’m going to shelve the wallpaper for now but I’m determined to use it somewhere in this house someday but I’ve got to stay focused on getting the kitchen finished before I start noodling another indoor project. That being said I’m smitten and delighted with the color of the cabinets (bayberry by Fusion mineral paints) and the paint is going on like a dream. Yay! It might be why I have green on the brain.Ha! I’m applying many thin coats for coverage and it’s taking some time but slow and steady will yield a better result 😁 It’s looking great though, thanks for checking in sweet friend! Hopefully I can get this project done before the hot temps arrive otherwise the kitchen walls will have to wait 😬
LaurenMay 24, 2023 at 7:33 am
Good morning Peggi! This is a helpful post for those of us who would like to foray into more than just the casual get together. As you know, I’ve never hosted a dinner party; not in the formal sense. Although, my passion for food and friends begs for such a gathering. I love hearing about your themed dinner parties, and have always been curious as to where you begin in your planning. Harry Styles meets Cher? Yes please! That sounds incredible! Undoubtedly I’d be able to pull off the food, the decor, and a theme. It’s the entertainment I’d struggle with. Like Colleen I’m digging all the green in your roundup- something about that shade grabs me. I’ve been craving green lately! I’m also itching to get the front room done. One of the many reasons for renovating and swapping functionality actually hinges on being able to host larger groups comfortably. The intended layout of our home is only suitable for a modest sized family, which seems absurd given the ample square footage. We’re still slowly trudging over here, but I know the finish line boasts a large reward. I’ll have to plan a smashing dinner party once it’s finished. Thank you for sharing your best tips on planning! We have a four day weekend with the littles, and one sprightly girl has been requesting the beach. Bless her, because mama is also craving sand in the toes. We’re also planning a family hike, and perhaps we’ll coerce a certain someone into pool setup. Although, we still aren’t having typical weather for this time of year- foggy, cool days have been the norm for weeks. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I’m baffled really. 😂 I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday Peggi! Xo
PeggiMay 24, 2023 at 8:11 am
Good morning, friend! Happy Wednesday! I can’t believe with your love of food and friends that you’ve never hosted a dinner party. I wonder if the term has you envisioning something more formal and intimidating? I will say that most of my parties are ladies only which I think is easier than couples’ groups. As for the entertaining part, do you mean an activity? Some folks might find one unnecessary, but I love a focus! We’ve had loads of laughs with just a new game. One time the game was so boring and confounding…but that was actually a riot too. I think a good old fashioned game of cards is also a winner. Personally, I’m dying for a vintage mahjong set. I’m envisioning the most glorious setup! I also recently discovered that the local hot springs can be rented for the day! Already scheming a fall get together. I think once your front room is done, you will host a fab blowout! (Let’s not even start on how square footage is (mis)used in some homes. Eyeroll.) In the meantime, your beach plans sound divine! Our weather has been wacky too. 90s already?! Then thunderstorms, then 70s. Mom nature is having a time. We’re rolling with it though. Have a spectacular long weekend with the fam, Lauren!😎