Thursday, November 14, 2013

How To: Prepare for a Dinner Party in 5 Steps

There are so many beautiful images of Thanksgiving dinners on the Internet right now. Here are a few examples from Coco + KelleyWaiting on Martha, and Style Me Pretty Living, in case you're looking for some inspiration. I'm quickly learning that having a lifestyle blog means celebrating holidays in advance, which I am fully on board with as it means celebrating twice! Since our focus on this blog is preparation, I thought I'd give you a little step by step guide to preparing for one of these fabulous dinner parties, starting with Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving!) We already discussed doing as much as possible weeks in advance: decide on a color scheme for your d├ęcor, determine the menu, and buy non-perishables. Now let's talk about what you can do during the days leading up to your dinner to minimize stress.
Label Serving Dishes | A Bar Cart in Brooklyn | Dinner Party Preparation
Label Your Serving Dishes 
1. Scheduling and inventory: Type up your menu and print two copies. On one copy make notes of when you will be preparing each dish (or who else is, if others are contributing). Break down your entire menu and make each item as early as you can. For our upcoming Friendsgiving dinner, there are a few items that can be made several days in advance: rosemary almonds for cocktail hour, herb butter for the table, spiced pecans for the salad, pie crust and cinnamon ice cream for dessert. Set aside time in your schedule to prepare these things early in the week to get them out of the way. On the second copy of your menu, jot down what tools you need to prepare each menu item. This could include appliances (food processor, ice cream maker, etc.), and other kitchenware and bakeware. If you keep these things stored away, bring them out and wash them. This step is important as it prevents any last minute purchases of overpriced supplies.

2. Recipes and ingredients: Print out all recipes (even if you know one by heart, write it down and dedicate a page to it) and sort them in order of the preparation schedule you determined above. Check your kitchen to see what ingredients you already have, highlight those you need to purchase, and decide when you will do so. Try to leave only the most perishable items for the day before your dinner. This will free up as much time possible on the day of, so you can spend that time picking up flowers or attending to any unforeseen issues.
A Bar Cart in Brooklyn | Dinner Party Prep | Napkin Folds
Which would you choose??
3. Label serving dishes: Place all of your serving dishes and accessories in an area where you can see them all at once (as pictured in the top photo above), and label them according to what they will be used for. This will help you visualize what you have available to you, discover items you may have forgotten you had, and make sure you're not planning for two items to go on the same platter.

4. Gather glassware, dinnerware, and silverware: Clean anything that is dusty, and polish your silverware if necessary. To decide on a napkin fold, don't just test the same napkin on the same plate - place several sets next to each other (as pictured above) so you can compare them and decide which you like best. Then press your linens accordingly.

5. Decorations: Arrange your centerpieces and other decorative table items as much as you can. If you're buying flowers, go to the flower shop a few days in advance to see what is seasonal, and pre-order what you want to make sure it's available to be picked up or delivered on the day of your dinner. Gather candlesticks and votives, making sure you have fresh candles for them. Set your table the day before.

I promise this isn't as much work as it sounds. And if you follow these steps, I guarantee you will be a lot less frantic and better able to enjoy your celebration!


  1. I love #3 for the place settings!

    1. Thanks Kristin! Yes I might have to revisit that option this fall...