Service of the Makings of a Perfect Dinner Party

December 28th, 2023

Categories: Entertaining, Guests, Host

I’ve been so lucky to have attended several magnificent dinner parties over the holidays. I will try to capture why I they worked so well.

It started with the hosts who were happy to welcome their guests. They worked as hard to create a beautiful table as they did to prepare succulent meals. Guests were honored off the bat. We appreciated the effort. Who gives dinner parties that often these days?

The mutual admiration inspired an atmosphere that was unanimously up even though some of the participants at one party were facing imminent life-changing circumstances. The most extreme: The parent of one guest is in hospice. She nevertheless made the effort to come to support her friend.

While the guests didn’t all know one another, they shared fondness for the hosts. The conversation was lively and informative and took all sorts of fascinating directions.

Time is a most precious gift, and the hosts have little to spare and yet they devoted hours planning and preparing to please their friends and family members. The result: Triumphs!

What do you think are the ingredients for a perfect dinner party?

The State Dining Room in Napoleon III’s apartment at the Louvre can seat 40.

11 Responses to “Service of the Makings of a Perfect Dinner Party”

  1. ASK Said:

    Good food, good company, and relaxed hosts…

  2. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: I do believe in a pretty table setting,…it tells your guests they are special but it reconnects me with all my own pleasant memories, …I try to remember what someone mentioned they enjoy and prepare that as well as food they often do not treat themselves too. Seating arrangement is a challenge…avoid putting the over-talkative in the middle of two introverts…:and sometimes asking tbe introvert to give you a hand bringing food to the table helps them to engage. (Always dinner napkins, no paper plates, napkins, plastic anything)

  3. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Agree with all points mentioned. Visual cues set the tone – creates anticipation for a wonderful experience. The rest is up to how well the food turns out & the friendliness of the guests who showed up 😉

  4. BC Said:

    Perfect party? Dine out!!!!

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    What I didn’t emphasize enough in my post was the treat of being invited to a person’s home to celebrate and break bread. This can be challenging in NYC apartments with small kitchens and limited space and/or for people who work 60+ hours a week. It makes each gathering all the more special.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    Yes. And due to circumstances that impact space most of all, I have lowered my standards on the rare occasion I have people over these days and I’ve been known to order in parts of the meal. In the past I practically made the butter [an exaggeration] but I’ve put aside Julia Childs. The point is to gather and honor my friends with sharing food in my home.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    I have fun table jewelry from years of entertaining but no longer have the space to entertain as once I did or the inclination to invite guests under these circumstances. When I have a few people over I’m always happy I did once I get over the forced lowering of standards.

    Like you, my mother tried to make a favorite food for her guests. Her magnificent floating island whipped up for my boyfriend and future husband may have been just the thing that inspired him to pop the question.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Debbie,

    You make a good point about guests especially if one or two don’t know the others. It’s great if someone knows at least one other person and crucial that the guests contribute cheer and enthusiasm to the gathering. Grumps should stay home.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    I don’t know. I never gave a dinner party – so if I was suddenly faced with so scary an event, I’d call an experienced person and scream for help! Seriously, good food and compatible guests should suit everyone just fine and make them hope for a repeat performance.

  10. BC Said:

    Still say- dine out and leave the work to others!

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    People leap to participate and contribute to some parties and guests like to be asked. If you raised your hand I’m sure there would be volunteers. Still, it’s a big deal.

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