Elegant dining table setting with a folded napkin and name card on a white plate, surrounded by silverware and wine glasses.

Hosting a Dinner Party: You Don't Need a Formal Dining Room

Written by Greystar
Edited by Greystar
Lifestyle June 27, 2018

The dinner party is one of the more common gatherings you may host at your apartment. It has the flexibility to transition from casual and friendly to button up and professional, depending on the situation. Patrick Ledesma, director of Georgetown University’s Student Center, offers his advice again in this second installment of a party hosting series you’ll find on this blog. 


Friends gathering around table at dinner party

From professional dinners with colleagues to unconventional Friendsgiving meals, the dinner party is an event that can be either formal or casual. A dining room isn’t completely necessary for a dinner party. Simply readjust furniture to create a setting that invites your guests to enjoy a meal. During this celebration, you can show off your kitchen prowess or trick your guests into thinking you’re a culinary connoisseur. 

  • Depending on how many guests you’re anticipating, be sure there’s enough room for everyone.
  • Foldable tables can be dressed with tablecloths, centerpieces and flatware to more accurately fit the occasion. You can also dress foldable chairs to look more formal.
  • Get started on cooking dinner as soon as possible. The last thing you want is your hungry guests waiting for their meal.
  • Matching plates and flatware can add a hint of class to an event but aren’t necessary. Paper plates and plastic utensils are perfect for a casual environment.
  • Set up and accessorize a home bar so your guests can sip, savor and socialize while the final touches are being put on the meal.
    • If you’re ordering a catered meal and want to create the illusion of a home-cooked treat, evidence should be hidden away and out of sight. Re-plate the meals and throw out original containers. Let the food aerate the room. The aroma of the food should fill the room, but don’t let it sit out too long and get cold.
  • Feel free to play music in the background, but make sure it’s not loud and distracting. The focus of the event should be dining and conversation. 

Party foul: Dinner parties require a lot of planning, and “bringing along uninvited plus-ones is a major party foul,” Ledesma says. Unexpected guests can throw a wrench into your seating, meal and the entire evening. So, if you’re a guest to a dinner party, be cognizant of this. Notify your host ahead of time and be open to the idea that your plus-one may not be welcome. 

Community courtesy: The dinner party can generate an excessive amount of trash. As a courtesy to your neighbors and apartment community, be sure to take out or put out your trash (if it’s a designated pickup day) as soon as possible. Even if you have valet trash service, it wouldn’t hurt to lighten some of the load and take a few bags to your dumpster. This not only helps the trash valet service but also prevents large mounds of garbage bags sitting outside your door, which can be an eye sore.   

Party Hosting Series

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