When you're priming to throw a dinner party, there's a lot you have to get in order. Firstly, there's the menu to plan: Will you serve something casual, barbecue-style, or will you go with something more formal that requires everyone being seated for different courses (and also requires that people arrive on time, versus a casual drop-in). Once you've made your decision, then comes logistics like ingredients and how you are going to serve them.
For the more casual get together, think serving bowls full of chips and family-style sides. For a more formal dinner, think varied plates for different courses (salad/dessert/dinner/and maybe a charger if you're getting real fancy) as well as a cheeseboard and glassware (if you're not so into cans and bottles of booze being on the table).
Now, it's time to focus on decor. For a BBQ, stringing lights around your backyard or patio/balcony area mixed with scattered tea lights and small floral arrangements sets the mood. For something seated, opt for slightly larger centerpieces (they can still be casual and arranged by you!), tapered candles, and laid-back linens. Want a little inspo if you're stuck on what to buy?
Here are some dinner party essentials (all from Etsy!) that you'll need, regardless of your partying style.
A good, perfectly worn-in linen napkin never goes out of style and can be dressed up or down depending on your vibe. Plus, these come in a ton of different colors!
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $15.10
Cedar Wood Place Card Holder
Even if you're not doing something super formal, having place cards at a table can make your guests feel special (plus you can decide where people sit in case there are any "these two people shouldn't be near each other after a couple glasses of wine" situations).
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $28
Who needs a boring clear vase (no offense, glass) when you can have a fun and modern patterned vase? The good thing about a vase with interest is that you can stick even the most quiet stems of greenery (as shown here) in it and it still feels like a work of art on your table.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $62
Matte Black and White Plates
Not all plates were created equal. In fact, many were created superior. Case in point, these modern, organic lovelies. Each is a little different (as they should be considering they're handmade!) and we would eat every meal off of them if we could.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $30
Large Ceramic Serving Bowl
Similar to trays when it comes to interior decorating, you can never really have to many serving bowls. Think about it—in this bowl alone you could serve gazpacho, a salad, pasta, chips, mashed potatoes...so make sure you have plenty a serving bowl on hand any time you throw a dinner party. You'll always need more than you think!
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $92
Ceramic Cheese Board
We don't think there's ever such an occasion that doesn't call for cheese—grab a couple of small, pretty bowls for fig and other fruit spreads, add some of your favorite cheeses and sprinkle in some nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and you've got yourself just what your guests will want when they walk through your door.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $67
Your guests will want water at the least, and if you're going to serve up a fun hot cocktail or don't want a beer bottle on the table, these cute-as-a-button cups are just the ticket for your tablescape.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $32
Speckled Clay Candleholders
It's not a dinner party without some candlelight! These are a matte/glossy combo (our favorite) plus neutral colors that will fit on almost any table.
SHOP NOW : Etsy, $77.90 / set of 3