Entertaining friends in our home is one of my greatest joys in life- there is really nothing more special you can do than invite people in your home for an evening and show them a good time. While I do love to throw a big party (like this or this), I prefer the more intimate setting of a small dinner party with a fun mix of friends. After our guests leave for the evening, Chris and I always find ourselves discussing the details of the evening to figure out how to make it even better for next time and I'd like to think after all this time we have figured at least a few things out!
Today's post is all about my tips for the best dinner party prep and clean-up - brought to you by Electrolux's fancy new dishwasher (Electrolux Stainless Steel Dishwasher with IQ-Touch™ Controls (EI24ID50QS). The food and conversation of a dinner is the highlight of the evening, but it will never be successful without a little forethought and careful preparation. While most people don't like to think about the clean-up of a party, it's equally as important as prep because it resets your home to its normal setting and doesn't leave you regretting hosting the party when you wake up to a mess the next morning. Check out this little dinner party set up on our new roof deck from the other night and then read on for my tips on prep + clean up!
1. Cook the night before: We always try to to pick a menu that will allow us to do almost all the cooking the night before a party so that we aren't spending all day in the kitchen. This is also helpful for weeknight dinner parties where you might only have an hour after work to get everything ready before your guests arrive. You can check out a great menu for a prep-ahead dinner right here!
2. Make a Playlist: Music is so important to the vibe of a party. Have you ever been in a restaurant where they forgot to turn on the music?!? It's absolutely horrible. Music fills in the gaps in conversation and generally helps people relax. I like to use spotify to make playlists and you can check out the one I made for our Moroccan inspired dinner party right here.
3. Assign Seats: Some people have negative associations with assigned seats - probably reminds them of their stuffy grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. I prefer to assign seats - it elevates the feel of the evening and it helps you control the conversation. I love a dinner party that has a good mix of people who might not necessarily know each other well which makes it even more important to place people strategically around the table who will have common interests.
4. Buy Consistently: While I love to get distracted by the colorful vintage inspired dishes at Anthropologie, I try to only buy dishes in white, glasses in clear glass and decor accents in gold. This makes it incredibly easy to put together a tablescape that looks polished (like the one pictured above) since everything I own can be used together. You can always bring in holiday colors or party themes using a fun tablecloth/napkins or interesting paper goods!
5. Review the steps for set-up: I always make fun of Chris because before we have a dinner party he sits down and makes a list of all the things we need to do and at what time such as pre-heating the oven, assembling appetizers, etc. It's always written in chicken-scratch and taped up on the cupboard. Sounds like a pretty simple tip, but it really helps us make sure we dont forget anything so we arent scrambling to add the cheese to appetizers we prepped the night before as guests are walking the door!
1. No Cleaning with Guests: I absolutely will not allow guests to help clean and I have a personal rule in our house that we don't clean anything while guests are still there. Your guests are there to spend time with you and relax- no one is making lifelong memories while loading the dishwasher. Also nothing signals the evening is over like clearing a table and disappearing to the kitchen- you never know what hilarious things will happen if you allow everyone to linger leisurely over the after dinner drinks!
2. Don't Put It Off Til Tomorrow: There is nothing worse than waking up to a mess. As much as I want to go straight to bed after guests leave- we force ourselves to clean up that evening. The Electrolux dishwasher helps tremendously with this as it cleans in only 30 minutes so you could even be extra productive and put away all the clean dishes before going to bed, but if you do fall straight to sleep after cleaning you won't hear a peep out of the dishwasher is cleans silently (which is HUGE as our current dishwasher sounds like a garbage truck).
3. Make It Fun: Chris and I love to set a timer on our phone to challenge ourselves to see how much cleaning we can get done in a short amount of time. It makes cleaning up feel like a game and sometimes that's the little distraction you need to make it pleasant.
4. Use Nice Cleaning Products: I'm obsessed with glamorous cleaning product brands like Caldrea & Murchinson Hume. It may seem ridiculous to spend a bit more on cleaning products, but the luxurious scents make the whole process significantly better. Lately I have been using this Rosewater Driftwood scent.
see more details on Electrolux Appliance's homepage right here.
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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Electrolux via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Electrolux.