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.
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.
Too often we overlook what is most important. We fixate on things instead of people. It is the people who make every event memorable. Not just your guests but your staff. These individuals are the face of your brand, cause, event, company, and more. In this gig economy this aspect of part time work or the idea of “picking up shifts until something better comes along’ is looked down upon. Take for example that case of Jeffrey Owens bagging groceries at a whole foods and how he was job-shamed for trying to earn a wage. Just in that case many of the event staff at your party are artists, actors, models, singers, dancers who are between jobs.
Its this kind of dedication and hustle that makes the individuals behind a “gig” based workforce memorable. These people are the faces and voices behind major commercial campaigns, TV, shows, films, and your favorite magazines. They are also the people who work your event.
The next time you plan your event, ask yourself that just like the food or the drinks or the music, can the staffing be better.
What’s the most important thing when hosting an event?
HighLife Productions March 26, 2019
Is it the venue? Eh, maybe. Is it the lighting? probably not. Although, I did recently attend an event at Cipriani’s for the company “Moment Factory” and let me tell you it was definitely ABOUT THE LIGHTING. Incredible video mapping installation they have put in Cipriani’s Downtown. Back on track here. Is it the Music? Yes, possibly if you are hosting an EDM Festival, Bluegrass Concert, karaoke night music might be the most important thing but for the great majority of events out there the most important element is of course the FOOD & DRINKS.
Think about the last event you attended. What was memorable about it? The conversation, the people, you met, the laughs you shared (hoho) or how incredible the mixology was and the delightfully cute bartender. In most cases the food and the drinks are what people talk about for months after your event. This is what people come for. This is what they expect when attending an event ESPECIALLY if they guests have paid to be there. How many times have you heard people say “I’m not going if I have to buy drinks…” The importance of having solid food and drinks is probably the best investment of your money you can make. With many of our clients who are planning events here in NYC on a budget they say to me that they are spending $8,000.00 on the venue and therefore don’t have the money to spend on the catering… Here is a quick hack. In NYC the wealth of condo buildings that now come with STUNNING common rooms is overwhelming. These common rooms largely are empty 95% of the time and are FREE to the people who live there. All you have to do is inquire amongst your friends to see who has one of these common rooms in their building. Boom I just saved you $7k you can now spend on the food and drinks.
Events are a special time for friends to get together and celebrate so the food and drinks should be special too. If you want a jack & coke just go to the Irish pub on the corner. A jack & coke is not a cocktail. A cocktail consists of at least 3 ingredients. 2 ingredients is an emergency.
Yes, I will have another sustainable seared red snapper with creme fraiche in a crispy wonton taco… they are delightful.
Always say please and thank you.
Bridal Showers Bring May Flowers and what do May Flowers bring… Weddings
HighLife Productions September 11, 2017
A Bridal Shower is an important tradition filled with excitement and fun. An excuse to get together with all of your besties and throw down. Here our chef RAPT took things to a whole nother level with some innovative farm-to-bar cocktails and delicious eats. A tropical themed escape in NYC that featured a Fig & Honey infused coconut water rum cocktail served in a coconut, a watermelon and vodka collins with grilled rose petals and finally the “Bea-llini” with sparkling rose’, green market peach, and lavender. Delish.
But most importantly here are 5 tips and tricks from the pros on how you can have a killer bridal shower without breaking the bank
- LADIES ONLY — this is a time to celebrate and tell debaucherous stories from the bachelorette party. This is a time to gather with a small group of friends during the day-preferably Sunday and relax. This is not a time to throw on the heavy EDM music, do tequila shots and take that last chance at flirting as your single life comes to a close. Fresh food and drinks are a requirement and if you are inviting 30 of your closest friends and family — don’t forget the mother of the groom! Then it’s important to keep it classy San Diego.
2. Decor and Design- The best events are those that you can call your own. This does not include renting out the back room of the local irish pub where the normal brunch crowd sips bellini’s and mimosa. FIND A PRIVATE SPACE. There are tons of great, effective, inexpensive ways to do this. Splacer.co is a great resource as well as peerspace.com and breather. All of these online space sharing/finding sites are like airbnb but for the hour. Hell! We have even done pop-up parties IN airbnb’s just go online and reserve the place for the day. Another fantastic resource would be a friends building with an event space. Like the one pictured here. If you have a wonderful space you won’t need need much in the way of decor. A few classy balloons. Some fun bridal toys and you are set!
3. FOOD & DRINK — As this is mainly a brunch type event the food should be light not filling. This is not considered a full sit down meal. But an opportunity to get together with friends and enjoy some company. The same goes for the drinks. they should be seasonal and light. NO LONG ISLAND ICE TEA’s. As much as you like them, now is not the time. Save that for the bachelor party. Pictured below one of our cocktails served in a coconut. FUN RIGHT!
4. THE FUN — Games and toasts and gifts. Bridal showers are perfect opportunities for gift giving and for games that involve the bride and the baby to come and all the fun of getting married. This is precisely the time to make it happen! The best stories come out between friends with cocktails!
5. THE BRIDE — At the end of the afternoon this whole shebang is all about the bride. This is where you need a dedicated team of bridesmaids to swing into action and take the burden of decorating, hiring the caterer, finding the venue, and deciding on the menus and games. Here is where the bridesmaids step up and take control.
Message us on Instagram or hit us up via email and we can give you more tips and tricks to help make sure this ever important event goes off just right 🙂
HighLife Productions & RAPT
HighLife Productions February 14, 2017
NEW YORK SPRING FASHION WEEK IS HERE! NYFW is one of the most exciting times in New York City as prominent designers from all over the world come to premier their new clothing lines. HighLife Productions has worked with many brands in the past from providing cocktails and fine treats before and after shows to comprehensive event design and production. Take a look at some past HighLife Productions Fashion Week events below.
Author: Paul Erlanger, Intern for HighLife Productions