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Dinner Party 101: My Tips for Crafting an Unforgettable Soirée

Tip 1: Signature Cocktail - Adding a Personalized Touch

Classic Margarita (photo via

A signature cocktail is an excellent way to set the tone for your dinner party and make it memorable. Whether it's a creative concoction or a beloved classic, serving a unique drink offers several advantages. 

  • Keep it Simple: I try to keep the cocktail simple when hosting a party. One idea is to serve Kir Royales (champagne with a splash of crème de cassis) on a tray when guests arrive. That way you aren’t mixing drinks while trying to welcome your guests. 
  • Make a Bigger Batch: For a more casual dinner party, I like to mix up a pitcher of Skinny Margaritas ahead of time (my personal favorite drink).
  • Name Your Cocktail: Another idea if you’ll have a bar set up is to name the cocktail and place on the bar with the name of the cocktail and its ingredients. Get creative depending on the theme of the party. For example, for a holiday party you could serve a “Mistletoe Margarita.”

        Here’s my personal favorite recipe for the perfect skinny marg (this serves one, but quadruple the recipe for a pitcher):


        • 2 oz silver tequila
        • 1 oz fresh lime juice
        • 1 oz fresh orange juice
        • 1/2 oz agave nectar (adjust to taste)
        • Ice
        • Lime wedge or slice for garnish (optional)
        • Salt for rimming the glass (optional)

        If you want to rim your glass with salt or tajin for a spicier kick, begin by running a lime wedge around the rim of the glass. Then, dip the rim in a shallow plate of salt.

        In a shaker, add the tequila, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, and agave nectar.

        Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds until the mixture is well-chilled.

        Strain the margarita into your prepared glass filled with ice. (I also like to strain it into a martini glass without ice for a fancier touch!)

        Garnish with a lime wedge or slice, if desired


        Tip 2: Place Cards - Ensuring Organized Seating

        Table setting with place card

        Place cards might seem like a minor detail, but they can greatly enhance your dinner party in several ways:

        • Organized Seating: Assigning seats through place cards helps ensure a balanced seating arrangement. You can strategically place guests next to people they might enjoy conversing with, which fosters better guest interactions and helps to avoid awkward seating scenarios. Bill always likes to seat our guests “boy/girl/boy/girl” and ensure that husbands and wives aren’t next to one another. It can feel intimidating but gets people mixing and mingling.
        • Elegant Touch: Place cards add a touch of elegance to your table decor. They can be customized to match the theme or style of your dinner party, and their presence lends an air of sophistication to the event.
        • Professional Calligraphy: If you're looking to go the extra mile, consider hiring a calligrapher to create custom place cards. This not only showcases attention to detail but also gives each guest a sense of personal importance. A few calligraphers I love are Rachel Fisher Calligraphy and Laura Lines Calligraphy. 


        Tip 3: Table Settings - Enhancing the Dining Experience

        Beautiful table setting

        The way you set your table can significantly impact the ambiance and dining experience at your dinner party. I especially like to create a layered look, mixing old and new and lots of patterns and textures. 

        • It’s All About the Layers: Thoughtful table settings, including a curated mix of plates, utensils, glassware, and table linens, contribute to a heightened dining experience. They set the stage for an enjoyable meal and create a pleasing visual appeal. I love to combine my own patterned salad plates along with vintage ones I’ve collected or inherited. The mix is much more interesting!

        • Monochromatic Florals: The arrangement of flowers, candles, and other decorative elements can make your table warm and inviting. Try using low bud vases with a monochromatic palette of colors to make an impact while still being able to have conversation over the arrangements.