How To Host A Formal Dinner Party

I’m Anna.
Newly wed, pup mom to Ozzy, living off the coast of NC. Sharing capsule wardrobe tips, renter safe home projects, recipes & more! Here to share the alternatives for living simply and sustainably
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At the beginning of the year I made it a goal to host events that I dreamt of attending. Instead of just wishing for parties to go to, I decided to host them myself. I determined that “Galentine’s Day” would be the perfect reason to gather my girl friends for a formal get-together. I’ve hosted several dinner parties in my day, but nothing like this. The guest list was 16 and counting and I knew I had details to iron out. How would serve a plated dinner to 16 people? Where everyone would sit? Etc. After a few google searches and phone calls to my “event planner mother” (hi mom), I made a plan. I’ve compiled my findings here for you in the event that you too would like to host a dinner party for your community. Without further ado, here’s everything I learned on how to host a formal dinner party, Galentine’s edition.

how to host a formal dinner party by anna comer

The Invitation

After fashioning the guest list I set out to design simple yet thoughtful digital invites. I whipped up a doodle in procreate and design the rest in canva and sent it out via text. This event was unique because each guest was given a “plus one” and asked to invite a young lady that was new to town or didn’t know everyone in our friend group. When you send out invitations, be sure to set a deadline for RSVPs to help with your planning.

The Environment

For years I let the idea that I needed to have the most aesthetic, studio-like, abode, hold me back from hosting people at my home. This is simply not the case. You don’t need a showroom home, or rooftop patio downtown to host a beautiful and successful dinner party. It’s more about the atmosphere you create within the landscape you’ve been given. The way you set the tone for your event starts with the level of intentionality. Put thought into the details, make space for people to feel seen, create opportunities for connection like preparing conversation cards. 9 out of 10 times your guests will remember more about how they felt at an event than what they ate that night.

formal dinner party for girls

The Menu

You have a lot of freedom here depending on the time of the event and how many guests you are serving. I knew I needed to feed over a dozen girls on a budget, and to make matters a bit more complex, I had to work a full day the day of the event so I needed things I could prep the night before. Hot tip: do as much prep work ahead of time as you can. You don’t want to spend the entire evening stuck in the kitchen glued to the stovetop.

For my dinner party I served: Anti-pasta salad, Italian pasta salad, fruit salad, and my friend prepped a charcuterie board. I was able to chop and prep the night before. Several dishes could be served cold as well so I didn’t have to spend any time in the kitchen.

how to host a formal dinner party for 16 guests

The Budget

As a young person with a “20-something” budget, I have hesitated hosting large groups because I didn’t think I could afford it. But I realized it’s not weird or uncalled for to ask your guests to “chip in.” I asked my guests to send me $5 each and $5 for their plus one. And wouldn’t you know, that covered ALL my expenses for groceries and decor and all that was left was the florals. So don’t feel bad asking your guests to help with the financial aspect of the event!

The Conversation

So you’ve invited your guests, created the space, paid for the event, cooked the food; It’s now time to enjoy the fellowship. This is truly my favorite thing about hosting events. If your guest list already knows one another and connect on different levels you could skip this step. When I host groups of people that don’t know each other or haven’t spent much time together I prep conversational questions for the table. I either write out a few fun questions or I’ll scatter table top conversation cards from card games I own to help my guests mingle.

how to host a formal dinner party for girls


In the end I want to look back on my event and feel as if the conversation was rich, the experience was full, and that each guest felt seen, known, and loved around the table. Everyone wants to be included, and as a host, you have the opportunity to do that. I highly encourage you, if you have never hosted a party like this, but want to, DO IT! You won’t regret it. By the end of my Galentine’s Day Dinner I felt nothing my joy and gratitude for that time spent. It takes a bit of prep work but I hope this helped! If you can learn how to host a formal dinner party, you’ll be set to host any gathering or get together in the future!

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