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What To Bring For A Dinner Party What To Bring For A Dinner Party

Events & Etiquette

What To Bring For A Dinner Party

Written by: Oliver Mitchell

Planning a dinner party? Make sure you're prepared with our essential guide on what to bring! Learn the proper event etiquette for a successful evening.

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Hosting a dinner party can be both exciting and daunting. It’s an opportunity to bring friends and family together for a memorable evening of good food, lively conversation, and shared experiences. As the host, it’s important to create a warm and inviting atmosphere that allows your guests to feel relaxed and enjoy themselves. One key aspect of a successful dinner party is having the right essentials and knowing what to bring to ensure a smooth and enjoyable event.

In this article, we will guide you through the must-have items for a dinner party, from essential tableware and cutlery to serving utensils and table decorations. We’ll also make sure to cover drinks, appetizers, the main course, and desserts. So, let’s get started and make your dinner party a hit!

Essential Tableware

When it comes to hosting a dinner party, having the right tableware is crucial. It sets the tone for the evening and adds a touch of elegance to your dining experience. Here are the essential tableware items you should have on hand:

  • Dinner plates: These are the main plates used for serving the main course. Opt for high-quality, durable plates in a size that can accommodate a generous portion of food.
  • Salad plates: Perfect for serving individual portions of salads or appetizers, salad plates are smaller in size compared to dinner plates. They add a touch of sophistication to your table setting.
  • Soup bowls: If you plan on serving soup as the starter or as part of the main course, soup bowls are a must. They are deeper in size and have a wide rim that makes it easier to enjoy every spoonful.
  • Dessert plates: After a delicious main course, it’s time for dessert. Make sure to have dessert plates available for serving sweet treats like cakes, pies, or pastries. These plates are typically smaller in size.
  • Drinking glasses: Essential for serving beverages, drinking glasses come in various sizes and styles. Have a selection of water glasses and juice glasses to cater to different preferences.
  • Wine glasses: If you plan on serving wine at your dinner party, make sure to have a set of wine glasses on hand. There are different types of wine glasses for red and white wine, so choose accordingly depending on the types of wine you’ll be serving.

Investing in quality tableware not only enhances the visual appeal of your dinner party but also adds an element of elegance and sophistication. Consider opting for matching sets to create a cohesive and stylish table setting, and make custom wine glasses a part of your collection for a personalized touch. With the right tableware, including these unique pieces, your guests are sure to enjoy their dining experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Essential tableware and cutlery are crucial for a successful dinner party, enhancing the dining experience and adding elegance to the table setting. Investing in quality items ensures a memorable evening for your guests.
  • Offering a variety of drinks, appetizers, main courses, and desserts ensures a delightful culinary experience for your guests, catering to different preferences and leaving a lasting impression. Attention to detail and thoughtful planning elevate the overall ambiance of your dinner party.


No dinner party is complete without the proper cutlery. From enjoying the main course to indulging in dessert, having the right set of cutlery is essential. Here are the must-have cutlery items for your dinner party:

  • Forks: Forks are a staple utensil for any meal. Make sure to have an ample supply of dinner forks available for your guests. Consider having additional salad forks if you plan to serve a salad course.
  • Knives: Knives are necessary for cutting through meat, spreading butter on bread, or slicing through any other delicious dish. Ensure you have a variety of sharp knives suited for different purposes.
  • Spoons: Spoons are versatile utensils that are indispensable for soup, stirring coffee, or enjoying a mouthful of dessert. Make sure to have an adequate number of soup spoons and teaspoons available.
  • Dessert spoons: For those delightful moments when it’s time to dive into a delectable dessert, dessert spoons are a must. They are slightly larger than teaspoons and allow your guests to fully savor every bite.

Consider investing in high-quality, durable cutlery that not only adds a touch of elegance to your table setting but also ensures ease of use for your guests. Opt for sets that are comfortable to hold and have a polished finish.

Setting the table with the right cutlery shows attention to detail and creates an organized dining experience. Remember to place the cutlery in the correct order, with the forks to the left of the dinner plate, the knives to the right, and the spoons laid out to the right of the knives.

By having the appropriate cutlery on hand, you’ll ensure that your guests can enjoy their meal with ease and grace. It’s the little details that make a big difference in creating a memorable dining experience for everyone.

Serving Utensils

When it comes to serving food at a dinner party, having the right utensils is essential for both functionality and presentation. Here are some serving utensils that will make your job as a host easier and add a touch of elegance to your table:

  • Serving spoons: These large spoons are perfect for serving main dishes, such as roasted meats, pasta, or casseroles. They allow you to scoop up generous portions and transfer them to your guests’ plates.
  • Salad tongs: If you’re serving a salad course, salad tongs are a must-have. They make it easy to toss and serve salads without the need for separate tongs and serving spoons.
  • Cake server: For special occasions or dessert-centered dinner parties, a dedicated cake server is a must. It has a wide, flat serving surface that allows you to lift and portion cake slices effortlessly.
  • Cheese knife: If you plan on offering a cheese platter or a cheese course, a cheese knife is essential. It has a sharp edge and a pointed tip, making it easier to cut through different types of cheese.

Investing in high-quality serving utensils will not only make your job as a host smoother but will also add a touch of sophistication to your dinner party. Look for utensils made of stainless steel or silver, as they are durable and easy to clean.

Remember to have these utensils readily accessible during your dinner party, either by placing them on a separate serving table or arranging them neatly on the dining table. It’s also a good idea to have extras on hand in case you need to replenish or accommodate multiple serving stations.

By having the right serving utensils, you can serve your dishes with ease and style, ensuring that your guests have a delightful dining experience. The presentation of the food is just as important as the taste, and the right utensils will elevate the overall dining experience for everyone.

Napkins and Placemats

When setting the table for your dinner party, don’t forget about the often-overlooked essentials – napkins and placemats. While they may seem like small details, they can make a big impact on the overall aesthetics and functionality of your table setting.

Napkins serve both a practical and decorative purpose. They are essential for guests to clean their hands and mouths during the meal. Additionally, napkins can add a pop of color or texture to your table setup, complementing your chosen theme or color scheme. Opt for cloth napkins for a more refined and elegant touch, or choose disposable ones for convenience and easier cleanup.

Placemats not only protect your table from spills and stains but also provide a defined space for each guest to enjoy their meal. They add an extra layer of style and sophistication to your table setting. Choose placemats that coordinate with your overall theme and color scheme, whether it’s a classic and formal look or a modern and casual vibe.

When setting the table, place the folded napkin directly on the dinner plates or to the left side of the plate. Alternatively, you can get creative and use napkin holders or fold them into elaborate designs for an added touch of elegance.

Ensure that each guest has their own placemat, centered on the table setting. Placemats can be made of various materials, such as fabric, bamboo, or vinyl. Consider using placemats that are easy to clean and maintain for convenience.

By incorporating napkins and placemats into your table setting, you not only enhance the visual appeal of your dinner party but also create a more organized and enjoyable dining experience for your guests. The small details can make a big difference in elevating the overall ambiance and making your guests feel cared for.

Table Decorations

Creating a beautiful tablescape is a crucial part of setting the ambiance for your dinner party. The right table decorations can set the mood, add elegance, and make your guests feel welcome and engaged. Here are some essential table decorations to consider:

  • Centerpiece: A centerpiece serves as the focal point of your table and ties the entire décor together. Whether it’s a bouquet of fresh flowers, a decorative bowl filled with fruits, or a stunning candelabra, choose a centerpiece that complements your theme and adds a touch of charm to the table.
  • Candles: Candles provide a warm and inviting atmosphere, creating a cozy ambiance for your dinner party. Consider placing a few candles of varying heights and styles in the center of the table or interspersed throughout the table settings. Use unscented candles to avoid overpowering the aroma of the food.
  • Tablecloth: A tablecloth not only protects your table but also adds a polished and sophisticated look to your dinner party. Choose a tablecloth that complements your color scheme and the overall theme of the event. For a more formal setting, opt for a crisp white or a solid-colored tablecloth. If you prefer a more casual and rustic feel, consider using a patterned or textured tablecloth.

When arranging table decorations, keep in mind the size of your table and the number of guests. You don’t want the centerpiece or candles to obstruct the view or impede conversation. It’s important to strike a balance between an elaborate table setup and providing enough space for your guests to comfortably interact.

Don’t forget about smaller decorative touches like place cards, decorative napkin rings, or scattered flower petals. These small details can make a big difference in enhancing the overall aesthetic of your table setting.

By incorporating well-chosen table decorations, you can create a visually appealing and inviting atmosphere for your dinner party. The right décor sets the tone, making your guests feel special and creating an atmosphere conducive to good conversations and lasting memories.

Always bring a small hostess gift, such as a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers, or a box of chocolates, to show your appreciation for the invitation.


When hosting a dinner party, providing a variety of drinks is essential to cater to different preferences and ensure that your guests have a pleasant and enjoyable time. Here are some drinks to consider for your dinner party:

  • Wine: Wine is a popular choice for dinner parties, as it pairs well with a variety of dishes and adds a touch of sophistication to the gathering. Have a selection of red, white, and possibly rosé wines available for your guests to choose from. Consider offering both light and full-bodied options to accommodate different tastes.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages: Not all guests may drink alcohol, so it’s important to have non-alcoholic options available. Offer a range of refreshing and flavorful beverages, such as fruit juices, flavored sparkling water, or mocktails. You can even get creative and prepare signature non-alcoholic cocktails that still provide a delightful and festive experience.
  • Water: Water is a must-have drink at any dinner party. It helps cleanse the palate, stay hydrated, and complements the flavors of the food. Make sure to have both still and sparkling water available. Consider serving water in elegant pitchers or decanters to add an extra touch of sophistication to the table.

As a host, it’s important to ensure that your guests have easy access to the drinks throughout the evening. Set up a designated drinks station or bar area where guests can help themselves. Position it in a convenient location, away from the main dining area, to encourage socializing and mingling.

Remember to provide appropriate glassware for each type of drink. Wine glasses with different shapes and sizes are essential to enhance the aroma and flavors of the wine. For non-alcoholic beverages and water, consider using elegant glasses or stemless tumblers.

Having a well-curated selection of drinks allows your guests to choose what suits their taste and preferences. By offering a variety of options, you create a welcoming and inclusive environment that ensures everyone feels accommodated and able to enjoy the evening to the fullest.


No dinner party is complete without a selection of delicious appetizers to whet your guests’ appetites. These small bites set the tone for the meal to come and provide a chance for everyone to mingle and socialize. Here are a few appetizer ideas that are sure to please:

  • Cheese and crackers: A classic and crowd-pleasing choice, a cheese platter with an assortment of cheeses and crackers is always a hit. Choose a variety of cheeses, such as aged cheddar, creamy brie, or tangy goat cheese. Pair them with an assortment of crackers or bread slices to create the perfect combination.
  • Vegetable platter: For a lighter option, a vegetable platter is a refreshing and colorful choice. Arrange a variety of fresh and crisp vegetables, such as carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. Serve them with a delicious dip, such as hummus or ranch dressing, for added flavor.
  • Bruschetta: Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer that combines crusty bread, ripe tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. Prepare a tray of toasted baguette slices, and provide various toppings such as diced tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic glaze. Your guests will love the burst of flavors in each bite.

When preparing appetizers, it’s important to consider the preferences and dietary restrictions of your guests. Try to offer a variety of options, including vegetarian or vegan choices, to accommodate everyone’s needs. Additionally, consider the season and availability of ingredients when planning your appetizers.

Arrange the appetizers on platters or serving boards and place them strategically around the party area to encourage mingling and conversation. Try to create a visually appealing presentation by adding garnishes or fresh herbs for an extra touch of elegance.

Remember to provide small plates or napkins for your guests to easily enjoy the appetizers without making a mess. And don’t forget to replenish the appetizer trays throughout the evening to keep everyone satisfied.

By offering a variety of enticing appetizers, you’ll set the stage for a delightful culinary experience and ensure that your guests start off your dinner party on a flavorful note.

Main Course

The main course is the highlight of any dinner party, where you have the opportunity to truly impress your guests with a delicious and satisfying meal. Whether you choose a meat or vegetarian main dish, it’s important to offer a variety of flavors and accompaniments that will leave everyone feeling satisfied. Here are some key elements to consider when planning your main course:

  • Meat or vegetarian main dish: If you’re opting for a meat-based main dish, consider popular options like roasted chicken, tender steak, or succulent fish. Ensure that the meat is cooked to perfection and seasoned with complementary herbs and spices. If you have vegetarian guests or prefer a plant-based option, there are plenty of delicious alternatives like stuffed bell peppers, mushroom risotto, or vegetable stir-fry. Aim for a main dish that is both flavorful and visually appealing.
  • Side dishes: Side dishes are a great way to add variety and balance to your main course. Consider serving a mix of vegetables, grains, and legumes. Roasted seasonal vegetables, herbed potatoes, or sautéed greens are popular choices that pair well with a variety of main dishes. If you’re serving a meat main dish, consider incorporating complementary flavors and textures. For vegetarian options, be sure to include protein-rich sides like quinoa salad or lentil pilaf.
  • Bread or rolls: Bread or rolls are a staple accompaniment that can help soak up flavors and complete the main course. Warm and freshly baked bread or rolls, served with butter or olive oil, can elevate the dining experience. Consider offering a variety of bread options, such as crusty baguettes or soft dinner rolls, to cater to different preferences.

When planning your main course, it’s important to take into consideration any dietary restrictions or allergies your guests may have. Offer alternative options or adaptations, if needed, to ensure everyone can enjoy the meal. Also, strive to strike a balance between indulgent and nutritious elements in your main course, providing a well-rounded dining experience for your guests.

Serve the main course with attention to presentation, arranging the different elements on individual plates or platters. Consider garnishing the dishes with fresh herbs or edible flowers to add a pop of color and visual appeal.

By carefully selecting and preparing your main course and accompanying sides, you’ll create a memorable dining experience for your guests, leaving them fulfilled and impressed with your culinary skills.


No dinner party is complete without a delectable selection of desserts to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. Whether you prefer a classic cake or pie, bite-sized cookies, or a refreshing fruit platter, serving a variety of desserts ensures that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some dessert ideas to consider:

  • Cake or pie: A beautifully decorated cake or a scrumptious pie is always a crowd-pleaser. Choose flavors that complement your main course or opt for timeless classics like chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie, or apple pie. Consider offering a variety of cake slices or individual mini pies to cater to different preferences.
  • Cookies: Cookies are a delightful treat that can be easily enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. Bake a batch of homemade cookies in flavors like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or sugar cookies. Arrange them on a platter, and watch them disappear as your guests indulge in these sweet morsels.
  • Fruit platter: For a lighter and healthier dessert option, a colorful and fresh fruit platter is a wonderful choice. Select a variety of seasonal fruits, such as berries, melons, grapes, and citrus fruits. Arrange them artfully on a platter to create an enticing display. Consider providing a yogurt dip or a chocolate fondue for extra flavor and fun.

When preparing desserts, consider any dietary restrictions or allergies that your guests may have. Offer a variety of options, including gluten-free or vegan desserts, to ensure that everyone can indulge in a sweet treat. It’s always a thoughtful gesture to label the desserts, indicating any specific ingredients or allergens.

Present your desserts in an eye-catching and inviting manner. Decorate cakes or pies with frosting, edible flowers, or a dusting of powdered sugar. Use tiered trays or cake stands to showcase individual cookies or bite-sized treats. For the fruit platter, arrange the fruits in an appealing pattern and provide small plates or skewers for easy serving and enjoyment.

By offering an array of delicious desserts, you’ll leave a lasting impression on your guests’ taste buds. The sweet finale of your dinner party will be a delightful experience that brings everyone together to savor and enjoy the delights of the dessert table.


Hosting a dinner party requires careful planning and attention to detail, but it can also be a rewarding and memorable experience. By ensuring you have the essential items and knowing what to bring, you can create a warm and inviting atmosphere that allows your guests to relax and enjoy themselves.

From essential tableware like dinner plates, salad plates, and drinking glasses to the necessary cutlery of forks, knives, and spoons, having the right tools is crucial for a successful dinner party. Serving utensils such as serving spoons and salad tongs make it easy to present and portion out the food, while napkins and placemats add a touch of elegance to the table setup.

Table decorations, like a centerpiece, candles, and a tablecloth, enhance the overall ambiance and set the tone for the evening. Drinks, such as wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and water, cater to different preferences and keep your guests hydrated and satisfied throughout the night.

Appetizers, like cheese and crackers, a vegetable platter, and bruschetta, tantalize taste buds and get the conversation flowing. The main course, whether a meat or vegetarian dish, accompanied by side dishes and bread or rolls, ensures a satisfying and flavorful dining experience. Finally, desserts like cake or pie, cookies, and a fruit platter add the perfect sweet finish to the meal.

In conclusion, hosting a successful dinner party requires careful consideration of all the elements that make for a memorable evening. From the essential tableware and cutlery to the delicious food and drinks, each detail plays a crucial role in creating a warm and enjoyable atmosphere for your guests.

Remember to infuse your own personal touch and creativity into the event, making it a reflection of your style and hospitality. With careful planning, attention to detail, and a little bit of flair, you can create an unforgettable dinner party experience that leaves your guests impressed and eager for the next gathering.

Frequently Asked Questions about What To Bring For A Dinner Party

What should I bring to a dinner party?

It’s always a good idea to bring a thoughtful gift for the host or hostess, such as a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers, or a small dessert. If you’re unsure, you can always ask the host if there’s anything specific they’d like you to bring.
Is it okay to bring a plus one to a dinner party?

It’s best to check with the host beforehand if you’d like to bring a plus one. This allows the host to plan for the right amount of food and seating. If the invitation doesn’t specify, it’s polite to ask if you can bring a guest.
What should I wear to a dinner party?

The dress code for a dinner party can vary depending on the host and the occasion. If in doubt, it’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed. A good rule of thumb is to opt for smart casual attire unless the invitation specifies otherwise.
How can I be a polite guest at a dinner party?

Being a polite guest at a dinner party involves arriving on time, engaging in conversation with other guests, and showing appreciation for the host’s efforts. It’s also important to be mindful of table manners and to offer to help with any tasks, such as clearing the table or doing the dishes.
What should I do if I have dietary restrictions?

If you have dietary restrictions, it’s considerate to inform the host in advance so they can accommodate your needs. You can also offer to bring a dish that fits your dietary requirements to ensure there’s something you can enjoy. If the host is unable to accommodate your restrictions, it’s best to eat beforehand or discreetly make do with what’s available.

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