In dinner parties diy holidays NYC south by soho SOUTHbySOHO southern hospitality


(aka better late than never, right?)

 Ho Ho Ho Merrrrrrry Christmahannukwanzica! Yes, I know I'm a tad late on getting this out there in the internet world. Every year I hold two big dinner parties and invite all my New York friends- one in the spring, and one in the winter between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And while the holiday season has come and gone, there are a few tips I always stick to when hosting a large (budget friendly) dinner party for any occasion.


(1) SPEND ON FOOD, NOT BOOZE. Reason: potluck dinners are pretty common in your twenties, but it's rare to be served a fully curated menu. It makes for a much more special occasion, rather than a stressful one with friends guessing what to bring. This also ensures all the dishes in your meal complement each other, since you have control of the menu, and you won’t end up with six servings of store-bought cookies and pasta salad.

(2) DON’T BUY ALCOHOL. Reason: ask your guests to bring a bottle of their favorite wine or beer. Friends will want to contribute to the party and this is an easy way to ensure everyone has a drink they’ll love. Bonus, this also is a subtle teaching moment about bringing a hostess gift to a party, hopefully a lesson your friends will carry with them.

(3) DON’T BUY EVERYDAY ITEMS YOU COULD BORROW. Reason: well, that’s dumb. Borrow folding tables, extra chairs, votive candles, serving dishes, even plates and cutlery if you need to. You don’t normally set a table for 16, so don’t feel like you need to invest in tons of extra everyday items. Your friends and neighbors surely have some staples you could borrow. Just be sure to plan ahead so you aren’t trying to run errands on the day of the party.

(4) DO BUY CLOTH NAPKINS AND CHARGERS. Reason: while apartment 5B definitely has some extra wine glasses you could borrow, they probably don’t have linen napkins and metallic chargers in a matching color scheme. I own 16 gold chargers (I purchased my first set of 12 at Target for $2 each, and picked up four more at Michael’s when they were on sale for $0.69!) and a mix of plain white cloth napkins (aka the cheapest you can buy) and gold chevron napkins (bought on sale at C. Wonder). Even when my chairs are mismatched or the china isn’t all from the same set, the table looks pulled together and polished because of the uniformity from the gold chargers and fancier napkins. Going with gold or silver means that you can use these items year round, another money saver.

(5) DON’T BUY CENTERPIECES. Reason: it’s way too easy to make. Unless you find a killer deal on flowers, forgo them for greenery that’s in season and CANDLES. Candles are the key to great ambiance. Borrow as many votives as you can and scatter them in random groupings down the center of your table. I also used bunches of holly (free: picked from my neighbor’s bush) and pine boughs (tipped the christmas tree salesman on my block $5 and got a whole bushel of leftover branches) as accents on my table and mantel.

(6) MAKE NAPKINS RINGS & PLACE CARDS. I always make my place settings out of something natural to decorate my table. This year I used the pine boughs I already had on hand and oversized gift tags that I hand-lettered with guests' names and tied together with twine.

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  1. Absolutely love every single tip in this post!! I will be using some of these for sure. And I actually love mis-matched chairs and stuff at dinner tables (kinda like Friends). Now, just gotta make time to organize a house warming.... ;)

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