Event Planning: Holiday Dinner Party

Let the planning begin!

I’m working on another event for me and my friends. This weekend I am hosting a formal holiday dinner party! How exciting!

Since my last attempt at a large-scale party didn’t work out too well (Halloween, no one could make it!) I’ve decided to scale back and focus on planning smaller, more intimate parties for my closer friends rather than everyone and their brother.

I seem to get better results when I throw the smaller but more deluxe events such as my tea party last spring.

What are “better results” you ask?

  • Close friends attending whom I can count on to actually show up
  • Everyone has a great time
  • I get to plan special things like food and décor to my heart’s content
  • (Sometimes) less mess and destruction compared to a house party!
  • A chance to really connect with each of my guests
  • Less pressure to be perfect
  • Even though I usually spend more money, I feel that there is more value in it since my close friends will appreciate it
  • Having an exclusive event. Everyone feels special!

Readers: Do you prefer smaller gatherings or larger ones when you get together? Why is that? Share in the comments!

You know, between hosting these shindigs and doing the bed & breakfast thing, I think I really like hosting! It can be a lot of work sometimes but for some reason I really enjoy getting all the details just so. Maybe I missed my calling?

I think I’ll keep doing the small, intimate parties and cycle through the groups of people. I think I’d like to do one with some folks I don’t know quite as well but would like to know better. There are a few girls at work that fall into that category. I’d also like to get some local bloggers together at some point… I just need to think of a theme! (omg I love themed parties)

The only downside to hosting parties is that 1. They are a lot of work. Cooking, cleaning, decorating & take-down, plus making sure you look presentable! 2. The costs can really add up. I like to do things on a budget, but the costs DO add up.

I have started asking people to bring a little something with them now, whether it be wine or a dish of food to share. This certainly helps but I wonder if there is any other way I can continue to throw nice get-togethers without blowing the bank? Hmmm. Perhaps it is just one of those things: “If you want to have a party, be prepared to pay for it!” This is what my sense of etiquette tells me.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Event Planning: Holiday Dinner Party”

  1. I do "big events" a few times a year – but no more than 10 people usually. I like to provide the main meal and everyone else pitches in with drinks/wine, appetizers and dessert. People haven't complained yet about being asked to contribute! It's usually the first thing they ask – "What can I bring?"

  2. As for not blowing the budget, I like to do big, family-style dinners rather than fancy little plates, with maybe a roasted meat (eg. leg of lamb for high end, smoked ham shoulder for low end) with a potato side and steamed vegetables or a one-pot type of meal (boeuf bourguinon comes to mind.) Also good are lasagna (when cheese is on sale) or meatballs (time consuming to roll small ones for a lot of guests though, but can easily be done in advance.) Sometimes I will pick a "food theme" – the last one was Greek. I did a fair amount of research so it wasn't your typical souvlaki dinner; we had Greek meatballs (keftedes) in tomato gravy with baked rice pilaf and Greek salad (I went all out and made spanakopita and tyropitakia triangles for appies while other guests brought olives, hummus and pita.) Not horribly fancy, but tasty, plus the table looked good and the company was fantastic.

  3. I host dinner parties often and you're right, the costs can be pricey. But not neccessarily. You just have to be cost-smart/frugal about what you're serving.

    I also admit though, sometimes, potlucks are FUN. You basically host still as it's your space but everyone brings SOMETHING. And that makes it a bit different cause everyone contributes and makes their own special dish. And it's fun tasting other people's foods.

  4. I do one big party on Canada Day every year. I make sure the basics are covered-burgers (of all types-beef, veggie, turkey) a couple of salads, apps, cake, beer/wine, and then others are always generous to bring other snacks/salads/sweets. We have about 40-50 people coming throughout the afternoon/evening (only feasible in summer when people can be outside on our deck-our house cannot accomodate that many! I fear a rainy Canada Day one day…) So it's "sort of pot luck". Other times, we do real pot lucks with different smaller groups. Once in a while we'll have one or two other couples/friends over and I'll do the whole she-bang myself. I don't cook really fancy food, but simple good food, so the costs aren't too bad. It probably helps that our friends are not big drinkers. I do enjoy hosting once in a while, as I love to cook for people, but the cleaning before and after does me in.

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