Regular readers of this blog already know that I've been planning a girls night in for a few of my friends. After carefully going over all the details, I'm happy to say that it was a hit!
If you're planning to entertain a few people in your small space, here are some tips on how to treat your guests to an unforgettable experience.
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As I mentioned in the first post of this series, my girlfriends are like family to me. Between myself and any one of them there is a history of at least 15 years or more. These are tested and proven relationships. And unlike the mean-girl witchery so often portrayed on TV as a normal part of friendship, we genuinely like and respect each other. So it should go without saying that to have a great dinner party, it is imperative that you invite the right people.
We're all accustomed to the informal gatherings where we just grab a paper plate and cup and run with it. Those are indeed tons of fun. But I wanted this to be different - an experience. So here are a few pointers on how I went about it.
1. Designate and Set a Dinner Table
A simple gathering is elevated when the "dining" area has clearly been marked. Think of the items you'd expect to find in a sit-down restaurant, and have these things available at your guests' place setting.
Of course you could splurge for high-end dinnerware. However, most of the items in the table setting below cost only $1 dollar. If you have a Dollar Tree in your area, the white, restaurant quality dishes and glassware are real game changers! The pink salad plates are upcycled dollar plates from a previous craft project. I explain how I made them in this post.
Don't have a dining room? A semi-formal dining space can be created with whatever surface you have available. Do you have a coffee table? Just place a runner on it and use smaller plates. Is there only floor space available? Place a piece of plywood or particle board atop a few paint cans. Spread a blanket or tablecloth on it, scatter a few floor pillows and arrange your dinner table there. The three images below show how a coffee table is transformed into a standard height dinner table for six. To find out more about this dining space option, click here or on any of the images below.
2. Make a Simple Meal Look Expensive
A dinner party menu does not need not be extravagant. In fact, I recommend preparing an awesome meal that you could make with your eyes closed. Why? Though gratifying, entertaining is hard work. It can also be super stressful, if instead of enjoying your company, you're silently freaking out about whether or not you whisked enough air into the egg whites of your soufflé so that it doesn't collapse upon serving. Who needs that kinda drama? Not me. So I did a salad and jerk chicken taco bar for my Ladies Night sit down dinner.
In a later post, I'll share my shortcut jerk chicken taco recipe. But for now, know that the secret to a great dining experience lies not only in the quality of the food, but in the presentation.
I used a similar approach with the taco bar. I set it up at my small kitchen breakfast bar - an area barely large enough for two people to sit. To get the most use out of this small counter, I displayed food at varying heights. Pre-packaged ingredients (like sour cream) were spooned into attractive bowls. I also filled the tacos ahead of time and kept them in the oven at 200°F so that they could be served warm and crispy.
3. Include a Parting Gift for Guests
A parting gift is always a nice touch, but doesn't have to be expensive. A cupcake, a small pouch of dinner mints, or fresh herbs from the garden are great ideas for parting gifts. A Nails & Cocktails box was my gift to the ladies. I enjoyed seeing their faces light up when they opened their gifts. You can read about that here.
4. Enhance the Surroundings
This post would not be complete without mentioning home decor. Adding a few extra plants, a bit of music, candles or interesting artistic decor pieces can do wonders for breaking the ice. That's a great help, if your dinner guests are not familiar with one another. This positive distraction will also allow them to relax while you take care of any last minute preparations.
Again there's no need to spend tons of money, or to make things complicated. This mirror (below) which I upcycled last year - for approximately zero dollars - sparked enough conversation to keep things moving along smoothly. Sometime next week, I'll show you how I did it.
The ladies and I had a great time. We were all able to break bread together, exchange stories, and sip Pink Moscatos. Best of all, we were able to celebrate the sincerity of our friendship. And THAT is how you have an awesome dinner party!
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Welcome to "my place". I'm Ola, a self-confessed décor addict and DIY think-tank. I love working with small spaces. Please make yourself comfortable, and let's get to know one another better.
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