You’ve made the guest list, cleaned every nook and cranny and picked out the perfect party outfit. But planning the actual event — that’s where things can get stressful. How do you set the mood? What foods should you serve? Whether you’re planning an indoor event or an outdoor picnic party, use these ideas to throw a low-fuss, yet sophisticated kind of event that everyone will want to attend. Cue the dinner music and get ready to be inspired.
1. Invitations: Handwritten cards are always nice, but in today’s digital age, your friends will think it’s totally cool to receive a peppy party invite via text or email. Plus, you’ll save the cost of stamps. What’s not to love? (via Best Friends for Frosting)
2. Fabric Covered Spring Vases: Printed burlap and a bit of string does beautiful things to an old bottle or vase. These tulips nod their heads in pretty approval. Put these little pops of color near the front door to welcome guests as they arrive. (via I Heart Nap Time)
3. Brown Paper Menu: Use a brown paper bag or kraft paper to DIY menus for your guests. Because everyone likes to know exactly what’s for dinner. We love how these menus double as placemats. (via Confetti Style)
4. Fresh Fruit Place Card: Let’s face it: There are other things you’d rather be doing during your lunch break than crafting a few dozen intricate place cards. So instead, keep things simple and fresh by using a piece of fruit to hold a simple name card. Nearly any fruit will work. How sweet! (via Style Me Pretty)
4. Fresh Flowers: Flower centerpieces don’t have to be complicated. Choose fruit and flowers in similar hues to create an impressive explosion of color against a simple white tablecloth. Oh, and here’s a quick tip: Don’t make any centerpiece more than 12 inches tall. That way guests can still see one another across the table. (via Style Me Pretty)
5. Jumbo Tassel Balloon ($30): Balloons aren’t just for birthdays anymore. Tassel balloons are so sweetly sophisticated and make great party favors when the celebration is over. If your event is outdoors, use golf tees to stake these little pretties into the ground. Want to craft your own? Here’s a great step-by-step.
6. Fabric Garland: A fabric garland is a beautiful way to create ambiance around the event area. You can use any type of cloth or ribbon to create this garland. It’s a lovely way to repurpose old clothing. (via Folk)
9. Fresh Fruit and Cheese Platter: The best dinner parties feature progressive foods. A fruit ‘n’ cheese platter is a perfect addition to a multiple appetizer lineup, and you can prepare it in advance. The food will disappear right before your eyes. What a great go-to option before diving into dinner! (via Snippet and Ink)
10. Salad Tea Cups: Dish up mini salads in advance and eliminate last-minute plating stress. We love the use of quintessential tea cups as salad dishes, because food is just as much about presentation as it is taste! (via Hotel Gratitude)
11. Rosebud Paper Napkins: Napkin, please! Roll up simple paper napkins and bunch them together in a large dish for a pleasing rosebud effect. Make sure to have plenty of “buds” on hand so guests can grab ‘n’ go throughout the evening. (via Rajee Sood)
13. Roasted Chicken With Clementines: People want to eat real, flavorful food, not outrageously fancy fare. We suggest a simple main course. Anyone can roast a chicken perfectly, and this dish is so gorgeous that it could double as a centerpiece. (via The View from Great Island)
14. Pink Deviled Eggs: How fun! Deviled eggs and spring are as synonymous as Peeps and Easter. Everyone will be intrigued with this pinkalicious variety. How’s that for a conversation starter? (via The Year in Food)
15. Peach Lemonade: Keep things classy with an elegant twist on an old favorite — pink lemonade. Watch for your guests’ reaction at first sip. Make this homemade peach drink a day in advance and save yourself the stress when it’s crunch time. (via What 2 Cook)
16. Pink Lemonade No-Bake Cheesecakes: Linger with guests over a sweet bite that’s 100 percent no-bake. Simplicity is key to keeping things hassle-free. The best part about these mini cheesecakes is that you can make them in advance and add your choice of toppings, be it fresh fruit, sprinkles, graham cracker crumbs, maybe even melted chocolate. (via Cravings of a Lunatic)
17. Macarons: Admit it: You’ve been waiting for an opportunity to try to make these sophisticated French confections. Stack the little irresistables in tower form and they’ll be as delightful to the eyes as they are to the taste buds. What a sweet and happy ending to a fun evening with friends! (via A Bit of Bees Knees)
Hey, peeps! What are your go-to ideas for a perfect dinner party? We want to hear from the experts — YOU!