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5 Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Dinner Party

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5 Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Dinner Party

Hosting a dinner party is the official mark of becoming an adult. Out with the beer cans and in with the wine glasses and cocktails – it’s time to host a classy party that your friends will talk about for years to come. But where do you start? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the tips and best practices for hosting a successful dinner party.

5 Dinner Party Hosting Tips

The great thing about hosting a dinner party is that you get to create the rules. It’s your party and you’re the one in charge. If you want it to be super fancy, make it super fancy. If you’d prefer a more casual approach, don’t feel guilty about keeping it low key. You get to create the precise experience you please.

Having said that, here are some helpful tips that most people find useful in hitting the ground running:

1. Start With a Guest List

It’s a good idea to begin with a guest list in mind, rather than reverse-engineering the dinner party. (If you make the mistake of doing the latter, it usually ends up having a negative impact on your menu, space, cost, etc.)

When creating your guest list, take time to consider the overall dynamic of the people you’re inviting. Try your best to invite people from different areas of your life. This is how you create a balanced guest list. Ideally, there will be some people who know each other, as well as others who don’t. This paves the way for good conversation and bonding.

2. Send Out Invitations

You don’t send a text to someone inviting them to a dinner party. (This isn’t a football tailgate, after all.) Instead, you should mail a letter. And, at the very least, send an email invitation. As a general rule of thumb, send invitations three to four weeks in advance of the actual party.

3. Prepare a Menu

Food is obviously a huge part of a dinner party. Take some time to carefully consider what will be on your menu. If you’re going to splurge, this is where you do it. Fresh food is a must. During the summer, seafood is a great option. If you live in a landlocked area, buying from a site like Maine Lobster Now allows you to get access to the freshest seafood in the country – including Maine lobster.

4. Add Some Personality

You don’t need to go overboard with decorations or themed decor. This is a dinner party – not a 5-year-old’s birthday party. However, feel free to add some personality to the party with floral arrangements and some tasteful decorations.

5. Create an Agenda

You don’t want to map out every second of the dinner party, but it’s wise to have a loose idea of where the evening will go. In other words, you need some sort of agenda. The best dinner party agendas have three specific phases:

  • Cocktail hour. Serve drinks and appetizers as guests arrive. Do your best to greet everyone personally when they arrive, but keep the overall vibe casual and conversational.
  • Dinner. This is the more formal part of the evening. Serve the food (or have a buffet line) and encourage everyone to take seats in the appropriate places.
  • After dinner socializing. This is the most relaxed portion of the evening. You can serve more cocktails (or even coffee). If it’s a more casual dinner party, this is a great time to bring out games. If it’s a little fancier, you can bring people into living areas for conversation.

Ideally, you’ll put some loose time frames on these three phases. For example, cocktail hour is from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. Dinner is from 7:00pm to 8:00pm, and the after-dinner portion of the evening lasts from 8:00pm to 10:00pm. You don’t have to stress about hitting these times like strict deadlines – after all, you’re not printing this agenda off for anyone to see – but loosely following them will keep you on the right track for the evening.

Adding it All Up

Hosting a successful dinner party isn’t about checking off a bunch of boxes or making sure that you follow someone else’s definition of what it means to throw an amazing event. Instead, it’s all about casting a vision and executing in a way that makes your guests feel loved, welcome, and appreciated. If you can do this, you’ve thrown a successful party.

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Food

Sipping Your Way Through Napa Valley

If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying a perfect weekend in Napa Valley, you’re missing out. 

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STAY AT A B&B OR DON’T STAY AT ALL

     A charming Bed & Breakfast will only amplify the quaintness of the whole experience. There are plenty of reasonably priced options available in the area. If you can sneak out on a Friday, it always makes for a better weekend if you can wake up at your B&B on Saturday morning.

ACTIVITIES GALORE!

     It’s hard to believe and potentially unnecessary, but there are plenty of great activities in Napa Valley that don’t involve wine tasting.

Oxbow Public Market: This lively market is perfectly nestled right against the Napa River. It’s full of plenty of vendors selling all sorts of fresh produce and also contains numerous restaurants. So this is a great place to grab a quick lunch.

The Silverado Trail: This beautiful trail just about runs the entire length of Napa Valley. It has amazing views and can be a perfect place to clear your head and get your calm on. And if you’re more of the active type, it’s great for biking!

Greenhaus Day Spa: What’s a weekend getaway without a trip to the spa? Greenhaus Day Spa in downtown Napa is widely considered the best spa in the area. Get the full treatment with a relaxing massage, a cleansing facial, and the all-important mani-pedi combo.

WINERIES ON WINERIES

     If we’re talking about Napa Valley, we’re talking about wine. There are plenty of amazing wineries and vineyards in Napa, but here are our personal favorites.

O’Brien Estate: This is one of the most popular wineries in all of Napa and actually requires booking your tasting in advance. Make sure you try the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pride Mountain Vineyards: This vineyard requires a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it. The whole property covers about 235 acres and has gorgeous views in every direction. When it comes to wine, their claims to fame are their Cabernet Sauvignon and their Merlot.

V. Sattui Winery: While the wine here is truly excellent, this spot is also great for a picnic lunch. You can grab everything you need in-house: the cheeses, the fresh bread, the antipasto spreads, and a nice bottle of wine and then grab one of the many picnic tables outside and take it all in.


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Food

Is A 24-Hour Vacation… Possible?

Five locations where a 24-hour vacation is completely possible.

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     Have a long layover? Maybe a day to kill during a longer trip? Or just like to get out of town? If any of those apply, these five cities are the best places in the world to spend a 24-hour vacation! 

ISTANBUL

     Istanbul is the ideal one-day vacation destination for the historian, as it lies right on the Bosphorus river, the geographical division point of Asia and Europe. The architecture in Istanbul is truly breathtaking as some of it has been there since the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Can’t-miss attractions include the Topkapi Palace, the former home of the Ottoman sultan, the Hagia Sophia, a sixth-century mosque, and the Grand Bazaar, which is the oldest covered market in the world. And if you have any extra time and feel like relaxing a bit, enjoy one of the city’s numerous Turkish baths, or historichammams.

AMSTERDAM

     Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and it owes a lot of its beauty to its architecture. You could spend an entire day there just walking in and taking in the buildings and you wouldn’t feel like you’ve wasted your day. If you don’t feel like walking, there are also daily boat tours that travel along the many canals that run through the city. Not to mention the countless museums in Amsterdam all with amazing works of art. And of course, no Amsterdam vacation would be complete without a trip to the Anne Frank house.

 

SEATTLE

     The jewel of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle may seem like a big city, but what makes it attractive for a short trip is the fact that many of its best attractions are all very close to each other. Even with only 24 hours, you’ll have enough time to take in the Museum of Pop Culture, the Space Needle, and the world-famous Pike Place Market. Try to throw one of those fish if they’ll let you. It’s harder than you think!

HONG KONG

     Hong Kong is one of the biggest and fastest-moving metropolitan cities in the world. The sights and views and endless and bountiful in this lively city. Be sure to check out the giant Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island, and of course the Hong Kong Museum of History. If you’re a tea nut, rumor has it that the MingCha Tea House has some of the best tea in the city. And the best part about Hong Kong? Unlike the rest of China, anyone visiting from North America or Europe don’t have to get a visa in advance. 

REYKJAVIK

     Reykjavik is the capital of one of the most scenically beautiful countries in the world, Iceland. It is the home of the famous Blue Lagoon, the geothermal spa that you’ve probably seen on your Instagram feed more than once. There you can also find the architectural feat, Hallgrimskirkya. Which is just an enormous, beautiful church. And, if you’re feeling saucy, take a tour of the Phallological Musem, which is a museum entirely dedicated to, well, phalluses.

 


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Food

Making The Stop At Roadside Attractions

Taking the time to stop and enjoy the roadside attractions.

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     Road trips aren’t just about point A & point B; it’s about the journey. The highways of America are filled with unique roadside attractions that divert your attention when traveling to your roadside attraction. Instead of driving past these attractions, let’s examine the best. 

CABAZON DINOSAURS

     You may recognize these roadside dinosaurs from the movie “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” These two giant concrete dinosaurs named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex are located in Cabazon, CA. You can find these behemoths just West of Palm Springs, California on the 10 freeway. Dinny and Apatosaurus measure 150 feet and Mr. Rex a Tyrannosaurus Rex is 65 feet. You can even make your way inside the T-Rex’s head!

Sadly, the original owners sold the roadside attraction in the mid-90s and the new owners put a Creationist museum on the property. 

CARHENGE

     Head to Alliance, Nebraska next time you are driving through the heartland of America and stop by Carhenge. It’s the full-scale replica of Stonehenge in England… but made with junker cars. Artist Jim Reinders studied the original sculpture while living in England and came home to make the statue as a memorial to his recently deceased father. Made with 39 cars, which were upended and dug into the ground.

PENNDOT ROAD SIGN SCULPTURE GARDEN

     A small art school in Pennsylvania came up with the brilliant idea to repurpose old street signs and turn them into a wonderful piece of roadside art. Allegheny College sponsored the attraction and students created all the art. The art spans a quarter-mile stretch of Smock Highway just southwest of Meadville, PA. If you are traveling through Pennsylvania this summer, stop by.

CADILLAC RANCH

     If you are driving through Texas, chances are you are cruising Interstate 40, which drives through Amarillo. This is where you’ll find Cadillac Ranch, a huge art installation made by three hippies from San Francisco, CA. They took a bunch of old Cadillacs and buried them hood first into the ground, then covered them with graffiti.

PORTER SCULPTURE PARK

     When driving through the barren wasteland of South Dakota on Interstate 90, around 25-miles West of Sioux Falls, you’ll stumble upon the Porter Sculpture Park. Imagine huge metal sculptures in a wide-open field and the only backdrop is Mt. Rushmore off in the distance. You’ll find over 50 huge sculptures on the 10-acre park. The biggest piece of art is easily the giant bull’s head, which measures 60-feet-tall, which just happens to be the same size as the face on Mount Rushmore.


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