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5 tips to help you plan a dinner party?

5 tips to help you plan a dinner party

Ah, the dinner party. A classic staple of event life. What separates your dinner party, how to make it exceptional, and why none of your friends ever return phone calls anymore. The secret to throwing a great dinner party is in the details. The details are the easiest way to make sure that each of your guests feels special and unique.

You may not have a dope AF greenhouse like the one pictured here but I can assure you that you can find a space that is just right for your event and how to make it special beyond all means. Below is a little step by step guide on how to make your next dinner party exceptional.

#1 Where is it located? What is the venue

The venue whether your home, office, event space is crucial in this equation. A lot of times your costs significantly increase if your venue doesn’t come with equipment like tables, chairs, plates, flatware, etc. There is nothing wrong with using simplicity when it comes to cutting costs. Often times using a designers eye can allow you to get away with so much. In fact a lot of the design for an event is reliant on the venue and its look and fee. Here’s a tip. In a lot of cities many buildings have event spaces that can be easily rented for FREE. Ask a friend 🙂

#2 Let’s talk food

It’s the most important part right? After all it is called a dinner party so “dinner” would be expected. There are many types “family style”, stations, buffet, three course, 5 course, french service, Russian service??? (it’s a thing, look it up. Nobody does it anymore but maybe we should bring it back. There should be a reason and a focus behind the food. Why is this meal special? What is it promoting? What flavors are unique.?

For our Spring Dinner party SSHEF our focus was on seasonal, locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine. The dinner menu featured Crisp Edamame with Perigord Truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano, Wild-Caught, Pan-Roasted Black Sea Bass with Fennel Rosti & Buttermilk and Grilled Spring Eggplant Terrine with Fromage Blanc & Pinot Reduction. The night’s entree is a ‘Woolley Sheep Farm’ Spring Lamb with a Jerusalem Artichoke and Miso Purée, Additionally, House Pappardelle Pasta will be served with Chanterelle and Spring Garlic Cream. Dessert will be ‘Wilklow and ‘Berried Treasure Farm’ Tristar Berry Crumble with a 5 Spice Crust, whipped Mascarpone and baby basil. YUM. The freshness of spring!

#3 It’s about the cocktails, silly

In the end if your guests are drinking they are probably having an amazing time right? Remember 3 ingredients make a cocktail; 2 ingredients is just and emergency. A thoughtful cocktail list solves a lot of problems. Remember this is not a restaurant so you don’t provide you guests with ALL the options. Stick to 3 signature cocktails and wine with dinner. The cocktails should match the vibe of the event and wine should match the food. TIP: a great local wine shop should be capable of pairing or suggesting great affordable wine to go with your dinner. After all those people literally sit around and drink wine ALL DAY. Take it from someone who used to work in a wine store, after a couple months you get real good at telling if a wine is good or not and that doesn’t mean expensive. Don’t get those two confused. In the wine world good does not equal expensive

#4 Hire some staff to help you

Don’t be cheap here. Save your sanity. If you love to cook. Then cook. But don’t cook, serve, and bartend… Hire someone to help you. This is the key word “hire” if you ask a friend to ‘help out’ they will most likely be drunk an hour into the event. Great staff always elevates an event. Young, Fashionable, fresh faced staff sets the right tone. How many tired events have you been to were you see disenchanted staff standing around aimlessly in ill-fitting tuxedos. Gross.

#5 That special touch

Details, Details, Details. It’s all about depth not width. How deeply can you effect someone with your level of care, honesty, and attention. Above all else this is what people remember and a small dinner party is just that. These intimate events are the perfect time for you to focus your attention and show your guests just how much you value their time. At this event we personalized individual Spring44 Gin Bottles with a handwritten message on the spot. So this gift could be for your mother, your friend, your dog (I don’t condone getting dogs drunk but you get the idea) this little touch costed nothing and left a nice impact on the guests. Oh, and I forgot to mention the personalized menus we created with everyone’s names at the top. Details people. Details. 

When throwing your next dinner party consider these 5 tips as ways to not feel overwhelmed and enjoy the act of it all. Entertaining should be fun and if it’s not, that’s why you have the cocktails.

XOXO

Tyler Hollinger

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Tyler Hollinger is the Founder and Creative Director of HighLife Productions, a creative event production agency in NYC. See more at: www.TheHighLifeProductions.com and on Instagram HighLife Productions @ TheHighLifeProductions.

How to market your brand!

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The underpriced attention of experiential marketing and why its authenticity has 10x the rewards of paid digital advertising or why computers suck.

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HighLife Productions February 24, 2019

Have you noticed the growing presence of advertisements online? The computer or cell phone has become a device whose sole purpose is to show you ads. Wherever your attention seems to be an ad will follow. Marketing has corrupted email, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and more. But I wonder sometimes about whether this pervasive advertising is damaging brand identity. How annoying is a pop-up ad when all you want to do is read the article from Variety or ESPN. How annoying is the now required YouTube pre-roll advertisement when what you really want to do is watch the video. Personally speaking I have never once purchased an online course about “growth-hacking” because it showed me an advertisement before a Casey Neistat video. In fact the overwhelming influx of digital advertising has just made me less and less confidant in what I am seeing online is actually true. (isn’t that appropriate though? Shouldn’t we take what we see/read online with a grain of salt? At what point did we start believing things that we read online?) In fact more and more articles, blogs etc are actually just written by computers with the sole purpose of getting key words onto the internet so that it will come up once someone searches them in the hopes of converting a sale, gaining a follower, or influencing a political ideology. Don’t get me wrong I feel some types of advertisements are wonderful and let your fans know what you are doing and to remind them of cool stuff that is up and coming. But most of the intrusive digital advertising is just that intrusive and makes me like that brand/person/company/organization a little less. Did you know there is a reason why those little “x’s” on pop-up ads are so small and hard to find. Because every time you click on the ad instead of the “x” the computers read that you clicked on the ad because you liked it. This kind of thing makes me believe the true value of online advertising to be declining. On the other hand if you read or see online that your friend, family, or someone you follow posted about something recommending it/praising it you are way more likely to consider it. Hence the rise of influencer marketing and mirco-influencers. This new ‘word-of-mouth’ is the next frontier (that is until we read that our favorite influencer was paid XXX amount of dollars to trick millennials into going to a ridiculous EDM concert on an island in the exumas.)

To my point. The combination of a real experience with a carefully selected amount of micro-influencers of a specific genre/category creates the prefect storm of everything you hope to achieve with your marketing dollars and more. Creating authentic experiences around a brand that allow the consumer to taste/feel/see/understand and then share it with their following is the ultimate in marketing. Frankly it’s just good business. Being Authentic. Being truthful, Being real.

It’s my belief that as the internet matures we will see less of an ROI from google adwords, banner pop-ups, paid FB & IG and more of an ROI in experiential marketing and the importance of creating an ‘experience’ around a brand that can be shared and not just some staid photo of a brand on scroll endorsed by bots and fake followers.

Authenticity and integrity is always the best policy.

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HighLife Productions