Two years ago, we hosted a dinner part on our back patio, which at that point was nothing like it is now.
I think I joked that, despite it being loads of fun, I wouldn’t be ready for another one until 2015. But here we are in 2014, and I’m planning another one! (Apparently, dinner parties are like labor. You forget about the pain and just remember the good parts. Until you’ve got, like, a week to go. And then all you remember is the pain. Ask me how I feel about this dinner party in a couple of weeks).
I did learn a thing or two from my last go-round, though, and I think I will benefit greatly from that knowledge this time around.
1. Less is definitely more. One of the reasons that the last party was such a monumental undertaking is because a) I wanted everything to be peeeeerfect, and b) I wanted to include all kinds of unique, memorable, distinct little details. Honestly, I managed to pull most of them off, but probably nobody much noticed but me, and the majority of the fun did not come from my adorable (read: complicated) DIY place cards. So, this time, I’m keeping the projects and details to a minimum.
2. Flowers are gorgeous, but big centerpieces are a no-go. If you go back and look at the recaps, you’ll see a couple of really pretty floral arrangements in the middle of the table. Thing is, they disappeared as soon as the dinner got going because it was impossible to talk around them.
3. Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be enjoyed. Not that our food was so very upscale, but I did choose several dishes that required lots of prep and several different steps, and this time I’m keeping it dead simple (with a focus on things I can make well ahead of time).
4. I’ve already done color and pattern (which, of course, I love). This time I want simplicity. (Sensing a theme?).
With these lessons in mind, I did a little rooting around Pinterest (you can follow me here) and came up with a simply chic inspiration board for the look I’m going for this year.
(I’m not re-linking below, so if you’re wondering about a source, be sure to use the numbers above)
1. I’ll be pulling out my trusty aqua mason jars yet again. They’re one of my favorite investments in terms of dish/home decor. I drink out of them every day. They make great vases. They immediately dress up any dinner. Plus, hello, they’re aqua, which pretty much equals instant love as far as I’m concerned.
2. String lights are a must. We have been enjoying dinner out on the patio pretty much every night for several weeks now, and the kids get excited every. single. time. Part of that has to do with the “twinkle lights” we have over the patio table that Shaun made. They like to claim dibs on who gets to plug them in each time. Not that I mind. After all, twinkle lights can make anything—even Tuesday night turkey burgers—seem a little bit magical.
3. Love the idea of faux flower DIY napkin holders. Easy AND they can double as wrist corsages for the girls once they unwrap their napkins!
4. These plates are from Crate and Barrel, which is way out of my price range, but I have a stash of white plates from the Dollar Tree which cost, yes, $1 each, so that’s how we’ll roll.
5. I love black and white. Yes, yes, yes. I know. I love color. But next to my beloved jewel tones, my next favorite is a completely neutral palette with pops of black and white pattern. And stripes? Swoon. I’m thinking of making a simple table runner (or just draping it down the center of the table without bothering to sew it at all).
6. I love the idea of adding a little sparkle to the proceedings. I found all kinds of tutorials for DIY glitter-dipped place cards, but I think I’m going to skip the dipping and go straight to slapping on a little strip of this glitter washi tape to jazz up some plain white cards.
7. At this point, my plan is to serve my chicken pot pie in individual oversized mugs. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like this dish. I can make the filling ahead of time. And there will be no need for big dishes or serving spoons taking up lots of table space. Plus? No need to dish out sloppy helpings. WIN!
8. We’ll see whether I can make myself splurge or not, but my favorite flower right now is definitely ranunculus. They’re a bit on the pricey side, but I love the idea of just one per white bud vase. I think they’ll add fun pops of color to an otherwise largely neutral table without adding unnecessary height to talk over.
So, there you have it, friends! A plan for an easy (ish :)), low-fuss, beautiful evening with friends.
Anything you would add? Any tips or tricks for streamlining the feeding of lots of folks? Hosted any dinner parties lately? I’m all ears!
P.S. You guys are being awfully shy about the M is for Mama print giveaway, so here’s the deal: you don’t have to do any social media shares to enter (although, if you’re willing, I won’t object). Just tell me your “M” word as a mama in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win a set of all 3 prints (TWO winners!). C’mon! You know you wanna! (I’ll announce a winner on Monday).