Party Planning: Hostess Tips and Winter Dinner Party Ideas

With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s the perfect time of the year for entertaining.

I wanted to share some tips for throwing a dinner party. I will be hosting a winter dinner party and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s something special about an intimate, grown-up gathering around the holidays …

Some key points to make sure your guests (and you!) have a memorable time is to plan and prep as much as you can prior to the evening.



If you are throwing a formal party then I suggest sending the invites out about three weeks in advance. If its casual you can send a text, email, or make a cute little invite but nothing too serious to stress over.


Music- check!

Music is one of the easiest ways to create an ambiance for your dinner party. Creating a playlist a couple days in advance, is a easy item to check off the list of hostess duties.

Since my dinner is going to be in the winter I chose a playlist of festive music and put in a couple of non holiday songs to mix it up a bit.

Here is my Spotify playlists that I used for my Fall dinner party. It is italian/rat-pack style, it’s super fun and upbeat

**Keep in mind that while background music prevents awkward silences during the meal, the volume should be kept low enough that it won’t interfere with conversation.


Table Setting

A beautiful tablescape is the canvas for a delicious meal and amazing vibes.

Start pinning or gathering ideas as soon as possible, other than food this is the most important aspect. You want your guests to feel invited and comfortable.

I host most of my dinner parties outside, its always nice to have a basket of throw blankets if your guests get a little chilly.

It’s always easiest if you set your tables first and then you can focus your attention on cooking and finishing touches.  You also want everything completed by the time your earlybird guest arrives!

I love going to the flower market the morning of my dinner party and arranging some fresh blooms for the centerpieces if I have time. If you are having floral centerpieces, the rule is to keep them low enough that guests can talk over them. You don’t want your guests craning their necks just to make conversation.

If you don’t have time to grab flowers, I also love a candlelit table, there is always something so romantic about a table filled with candles of all different sizes. ** Stick to non-scented candles during a dinner party since you don’t want to interfere with the tastes and smells of your food.

Tip for small spaces: If you don’t have a big enough dinner table to host a large gathering, bring in a folding table for the night and cover it with a nice table linen and you can use it to place food and drinks.

Here are some Pinterest inspirations:



Assigned seating isn’t really a necessity but it can be nice if you have some new faces to a group. It is a fun way to play matchmaker or to be responsible for a beautiful new friendship 🙂

It’s also a great way to give guests some cute home takeaways!

I will be using DIY clear glass ornaments as their place cards


Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 11.25.31 PM
I will be making mine with gold glitter and lettering to match my theme


Hors D’oeuvres

Having hors d’oeuvres set out when guests arrive will give you some extra time to finish cooking while guests mingle and munch.

A cheese plate (pictured below; from my fall dinner) is my easy go-to, but for my winter dinner party I’m going to be making Pear slices with arugula, blue cheese wrapped in prosciutto and spinach artichoke dip.

Set out platters at different spots throughout the living or dining area so guests don’t feel cramped in a certain area, mainly really important for larger groups.



The number one, initial rule for the main event….Make sure that you’ve asked all of your guests ahead of time if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. You don’t want anyone to go hungry or feel awkward refusing food.

Also, stick with dishes you’ve made before. The day of your dinner party is not the time to experiment with that elaborate soufflé recipe you saw in Sunset Magazine. Your guests will appreciate a simple, home-cooked meal as much as something more gourmet.

I haven’t decided on my final menu yet but once I do, I will post pictures

It also makes it a lot less stressful for you when you are making simple, tasty things that you are comfortable with!



Dessert is the best way to ensure that everyone’s night will end on a sweet note!

I love baking pies, but not every meal requires an elaborate ending. For me, dessert is just as much about presentation as it is about taste. So if you’re spending more time on the meal and decor then you’re going to want to keep dessert simple.  You can dress up basic cookies or cupcakes by placing them on a pretty platter or cake stand.

It’s also nice to offer coffee or tea with dessert. If you’re only making one pot, decaf pleases most everyone after dinnertime.

Dessert is also a good way to get guests involved if they ask.  You can put them in charge of desserts to take one less thing off of you. They will be happy to because they will be grateful for the dinner and setting.



It’s always nice to have glass bottles filled with water set along the table. I always have a flavored sparkling water as an option as well.

You can have a bottle of wine, guests can also bring one with them if some are already bringing desserts, but it is always nice to have a signature cocktail for the night.

My go to is usually a sangria, but for this dinner I think I am going to branch out a bit.  Not sure what yet, but I just invested in a dozen super pretty glasses that I’m excited to use.



Hosting a dinner party should be enjoyable for the hostess too. Once your guests have arrived, relax and enjoy yourself along with them. Resign yourself to the fact that dishes can be done the next morning. Tonight, enjoy the good company, delightful ambiance, and delicious food you put so much work into.


Are there any tips that you use or any specific go to’s when you host a party? I’d love to know!




Preparatory Measures-

Make sure your house and bathroom are clean!! Haha





3 thoughts on “Party Planning: Hostess Tips and Winter Dinner Party Ideas

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s