The Perfect Summer Night Dinner Party

Temperatures are rising and the days are getting longer, which means summer is on its way, and with it–summer dinner parties. Whether you are hosting or attending, it is important to follow party etiquette to ensure the party is enjoyable not only for you, but everyone around you, as well.

For The Host & Hostess

Every detail matters when hosting a party, from the food you select, to the linens and flowers on the table. Hosting a party does not have to be stressful, however. Choosing a light, savory menu, setting the mood with carefully chosen flowers and music, and beginning preparations early will ensure your party (and you) sets the standard for the rest of the season.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE SEASON

What better way to decorate for a summer dinner party than with flowers? But your tablescape will only work in your favor if it is made up of in-season blooms. To truly set the summer mood, we suggest crafting your bouquets and tablescapes with the following:

  • Hydrangeas

  • Dahlias

  • Peonies

  • Zinnias

  • Cosmos

  • Baby’s Breath

  • Globe Amaranths

  • China Asters

  • Amaranthus

  • Lisianthus

  • Sedums

BE INTENTIONAL WHEN CHOOSING MUSIC

Music has an incredible power to set the mood for any party. As such, it’s important to choose the right music. Consider your guests: if they are jazz fans, the last thing you want drifting through your home is country music.

We suggest curating your own playlist in order to have complete control over the mood. If you play the radio, not only do you not know what song will play next, but your guests will also have to listen to commercials. The last thing you want is a lull in the conversation right when a Viagra commercial starts playing.

BE SELECTIVE WITH THE MENU

When curating your menu, consider the weather. On hot summer nights, guests will appreciate a menu of light, refreshing foods. No one wants to arrive at the table to find a bowl of mayo sitting in the 100 degree heat. A salad with an olive oil and vinegar-based dressing, however? Oh yes.

Here are some of our favorite summer night recipes:

Another way to keep your guests happy and cool? Pair frozen fruits with wine.

  • Strawberries & Prosecco

  • Raspberries & Rosé

  • Peaches & Chardonnay

  • Blackberries & Riesling

  • Mango & Moscato

  • Blueberries & Sauvignon Blanca

  • Fresh Pineapple & Pinot Grigio

  • Cherries & White Zinfandel

START PREPARING EARLY

The invitations have been sent and the RSVPs are coming in. As the party draws closer, you have to start thinking about all the little details. We suggest starting preparations three or four days before the party. Iron the linens. If you haven’t already, purchase vases for your flower arrangements and wash them. Make sure all price tags are removed. You do not want to realize halfway through the party that your guests have spent the last hour staring at the $4.99 sticker on that new vase you bought on sale for your tablescape.

BE MINDFUL OF YOUR GUESTS

Your job as a host does not end when the party draws to a close. It is also your job to ensure your guests get home safe. If you served alcohol at your party, do not let your guests drive home drunk. Offer up your guest room if you have one, call an Uber, or drive them home yourself.

FOR THE GUEST

So you have been invited to a summer dinner party–all you  have to do is show up, right? Wrong, honey. At an event like this (or any event for that matter) it is not only the host and hostess who have to put in work; guests are expected to follow certain etiquette, too. The last thing you want is to embarrass yourself and your host and have your invitation to next summer’s dinner party revoked. Following this etiquette will ensure you get an invite to next year’s summer dinner party, as well.

DO NOT SHOW UP EMPTY-HANDED

If you’ve ever hosted a party, you understand what it means to invite someone into your own home. Your home is a sacred space that not everyone has the privilege of entering. When the roles are reversed, it is important to remember that you are now the one in someone’s sacred space. When given the honor of being invited into someone’s home, the best way to show your gratitude is to bring a gift. The gift does not have to be too extravagant; flowers, bread, wine, or a candle will do. Use your best judgment and choose a gift that suits your hostess’s taste. (And make sure to remove the price tag, damn it.)

BE PUNCTUAL

This is such an easy rule, and yet so many guests have trouble following it. No host or hostess appreciates when a guest doesn’t show up at the proper time. If you show up thirty minutes late, the other guests might very well start eating without you, or worse–they’ll be waiting on you to start. If you show up thirty minutes early, the host or hostess may not be entirely ready for your arrival.

Your best bet is to show up right on time, or at least within a fifteen-minute window of the time printed on the invitation. Do not make excuses–If you plan ahead and keep an eye on the traffic reports, arriving on time should not be an issue.

DRESS APPROPRIATELY

Simply put, club attire is usually not appropriate attire for a dinner party. If you show up in your club dress, you will definitely be remembered, but not in a good way. When deciding what to wear, pay attention to the tone of the invitation. An elegant, formal invitation suggests your attire should be the same. (And no, club attire is not formal attire.)

Do not show up with people who were not invited

Do we really need to explain this one? You likely have some friends who did not get invited. They may even be good friends with the host. Does that mean you should bring them along? Absolutely not. Hosts and hostesses choose their guests carefully. If your friend was not invited, it was purposeful.

If You Must Cancel, The Sooner The Better

If you have already sent in your RSVP, cancelling should not even cross your mind. However, if you must cancel because of an unexpected event or conflict, do so earlier rather than later. A party is planned around a certain number of guests, which means cancelling forces your host or hostess to adjust their plans. Cancelling early makes it easier for those adjustments to be made without causing undue stress. The minute you find out you will not be attending the party, let your hostess know.

Our advice? If you cancel, stay off social media. If you are posting pictures of yourself at the club or dinner with your honey, your hostess will see them, and we can guarantee you won’t be getting an invite to the next dinner party.

If you plan on hosting a dinner party this summer, consider hiring an event designer to ensure the party is as magnificent and stress-free as possible.