Some of the best parties are small. Really small, like for six people.  Early fall is a great time to host a small dinner party, you can still take it outside and make it polished and not too over-thought. Al fresco settings allow everyone to relax. Beginning with an easy cocktail or champagne bar and ending with smores by the fire. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years about How to Host a Memorable Dinner Party.

Host a Memorable Dinner Party

 

HOW TO Host a Memorable Dinner Party:

 

Get Inspired.

 

Choose something to be your inspiration for the party. It can be an event {birthday, a promotion}, a color, a favorite flower – really anything can be the starting point for your setting. And, every memorable gathering needs a purpose, so ask yourself the WHY? question. Why are you getting together? Thoughts can be: 1. To make new friends after moving. 2. To celebrate a special friend you all love. 3. To hear all about a grand adventure a friend {or perhaps you} just came home from. 4….you fill in the blank. This helps you plan everything else for your dinner party around it.

 

For this casual evening, I had “transition to fall from a very hot summer” in mind. It is still quite hot on some days this year here in California, so setting a full on autumn table seemed a little out of touch with the environment. Instead, I tried to mix the two seasons a little bit, with light colors and neutrals, contrasted with the darker wood tones of the antique bowl and the wood chopping board underneath the flower centerpiece, and an antique French copper pitcher.

Host a memorable dinner party

 

Go High / Low.

 

My favorite secret for effortless entertaining!  Use eclectic tableware to create a chic setting that reflects your creative philosophy. Tabletops should look like they were collected over time. Mix it up with your antiques and new things…you can still create a curated, elegant and fun look that doesn’t look like you threw your grandmama’s whole attic onto your table.

No matter how high / low you go, please don’t go paper and plastic!  I know, I’m totally old-school, and yes, there are beautiful paper plates out there. But a dinner party just doesn’t seem as wonderful when eating on paper plates.  I often set a table in our back garden table with really really inexpensive black and white plates. I bought them when we were first married with one baby, and these dishes literally cost less than 2.00 each. Whenever I use them, people always ask where they are from – even today.

 
Embrace the Joys of Summer

 

The round bread board and wooden bowl, on the other hand, are French antiques.  The ocean linen tablecloth is all organic linen, as are the beautiful linen napkins, they are fine quality that will last you your lifetime! They all work seamlessly to create the comfortable, lovely table I am always trying to achieve.

 

ocean linen tablesetting

 

Be a Rule Breaker.

 

Go ahead, break some rules, it’s your party and you can if you want to!  Sometimes it’s fun to have your martini glasses hold the appetizers, or a small salad. Your antique silver can mix in with gold contemporary flatware. And not every place setting needs to match, either.  Eat dessert before dinner? Yes! There are occasions where I think that would be fun. I’m thinking of a special occasion when our family will eat dessert first – I know my little people would love that.

 

french country salad

 

Don’t overdo.

 

It’s okay to not be “perfect” – your silver doesn’t have to be polished the night before. You can tell that I took this linen tablecloth out of the closet, and didn’t iron out the creases.  It’s all pretty simple, really. Because I want to be relaxed and fun for my time with my dearest friends and/or family, not be exhausted and frazzled! Better an un-ironed linen tablecloth than a grumpy hostess!!

You don’t have to cook up a storm. I’m all for cooking a simple and delicious meal, {hello, to you, my dearest slow cooker!} but wouldn’t blink twice about setting a beautiful table, throwing together a salad, and ordering food from a great place. Just create an atmosphere that says “I’m so excited you’re here! You are so special to me!” A little casual imperfection allows your guests to feel comfortable and free to take off their shoes if they want.

 

Host a Memorable Dinner Party
Host a Memorable Dinner Party

 

Just Say No.

 

I know I’m European, and European people just don’t bring food to another person’s dinner party. They bring a great bottle of wine, and /or flowers.  Here in the states friends always want to know what they can bring, but just between you and me, the only time I really let them share their best dishes is at our Easter brunch. For me, hospitality means our guests just come, relax, enjoy a really good time, and not stress about anything.

Need some ideas for a fun fall dinner or party?

 

HERE ARE SOME OF MY TRIED AND TRUE FAVORITES: 
 
autumn crostini bar

Crostini Bar Party

Still a big favorite around here!

Autumn Aperol Cocktail Spritz

French Blood Orange Aperol Spritz

French brie and bacon palmiers

French Brie and Bacon Palmiers

dinner party

Autumn Entertaining Appetizer Party

 

What do you love about hosting a small dinner party in the Fall?

 

A BIENTOT

 

Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and above all uniquely yours. Visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.com