The best thing about having an informal dinner party is that the guest list can be fluid. With formal dinner parties there are formal invitations, RSVP cards and finalized lists. When you have people over for an informal dinner party, often all that is needed is a phone call or an e-mail to coordinate schedules.
The most important part about planning your guest list for an informal dinner party (also known as “having people over for dinner”) is making sure that the people you do invite get along. This might be best served by sticking to one social circle at a time. For example, your husbands best work buddy might not necessarily get along with (or care about talking to) your best friend’s sixteen year old daughter. Your uncle might not be at all concerned with trying to get along with your wife’s gym friends. You get the idea.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t occasions when inviting everyone you know over for a backyard barbecue isn’t a fun idea. Use your best judgment.
The nice thing about an informal get together is that you don’t have to invite a lot of people over. Having just a few people join you for dinner is perfectly acceptable at an informal dinner party and, in fact, is expected. Large numbers tend to bring about formality whether or not it is intended.
If you do choose to send out invitations to an informal dinner party, the good news is that these invitations do not have to be expensive. A pack of them from a stationery store should suffice. Many people don’t bother with mailed invitations, but those who do like them because the invitation gives them the opportunity to give all of the information at once. Date, time, location, special themes, etc.
If you don’t want to worry about paying for postage, there are quite a few party supplies websites that will allow you to send e-vites to the people that you are inviting over. These are becoming increasingly popular because they allow you to type out all of the details once and then send the invitation to everyone on your guest list. The recipients can simply e-mail you or give you a call to let you know whether or not they will be able to make it.
Finalizing a guest list for an informal dinner party isn’t nearly as important as it is with a formal dinner party. This is because informal get togethers rarely have place settings or a set amount of servings of food. All that is really needed is a rough estimate.
Deciding upon a location for your informal dinner party/get together usually involves simply deciding at whose house everyone should meet. If you are giving the party, it is customary for the party to be at your house or at the location of your choosing.
Having the party at home can save you quite a bit of money as most restaurants like to have plenty of advance notice if a large number of people will need to be seated together. What’s more, restaurants often add additional gratuity to the bill of large dinner parties. When you have the party at your home all that you need to purchase is the food that you will be cooking and perhaps a few cleaning supplies to tidy up before your guests arrive.
The only problem with having an informal dinner party at home is the amount of space that is available. You will need enough space for your guests to sit comfortably while they eat and enough space to serve the food! If your dining table is small, you might consider creating a makeshift buffet line in your kitchen and have your guests serve themselves and then carry their plates to the table (or living room).
If you decide to take everyone out for a meal, make sure you call the restaurant beforehand to secure enough space. Many restaurants have side rooms for especially large groups of people. The sooner you secure your reservation, the happier everyone will be-not just your guests, but the staff at the restaurant as well. Some restaurants will give you the option of a limited menu just to make sure that they have enough prepared food on hand (to shorten the waiting time after orders are placed).
If you and your friends have decided to gather for dinner, it is perfectly appropriate to suggest someone else’s home as the location for the informal dinner party. As a group you can decide who should host the party or which restaurant would provide the best options for a group of your size. Don’t forget to bring enough party supplies for everyone.
The food at an informal dinner party can be just as informal as the setting itself. If you have decided to have an informal get together, here are a few hints that you might consider when it comes to making sure everyone is fed.
Have a potluck! Ask each guest to make/buy a dish that is large enough to feed all of the guests. Then, simply set all of the dishes up as a buffet line and let people serve themselves. This saves everyone quite a bit of money and it saves you from having to cook enough food to feed everyone who shows up.
If the weather is nice, you might consider having a barbecue-it is easier to cook large quantities of food on a barbecue than it is on a stove. You can grill the meat outside and use the oven and stove for the side dishes.
Potlucks and barbecues are especially good ideas for a group of people whose eating tastes vary wildly. They are a great way to ensure that meat eaters and vegetarians all end up full and happy when the meal is over. With a barbecue, it might be a good idea to have each guest bring whatever food they want to have grilled.
If you are only having a few people over for dinner, you might consider ordering in. Pizza and Chinese Food are great staples for informal dinner parties with friends-and they will allow each person to have a say in what is served.
If the informal get together isn’t specifically happening around dinner, you might simply get some vegetable and cold cut trays from your local deli or grocery store and have everyone help themselves. Appetizers, when eaten in bulk, can be quite filling!
Pasta is another food that lends itself well to last minute gatherings. It’s fast and easy to make and, if you run out, it won’t take long to make more!
Sandwiches are another good idea for informal dinner party supplies. Stock up on different sandwich meats, cheeses and garnishes and let each guest build their own. Everyone is happy!
You might also check out our bonus section for a few quick and easy recipes that will work well for informal get togethers.
A word about alcohol:
When dealing with an informal dinner party, the rule of thumb is BYOB (bring your own booze). Like with other get togethers, however, you should keep each of your guests in mind. If one (or more) of your guests has problems with alcohol, it might be a good idea to declare your party a “dry” party. You should also make sure that everyone has a designated driver in the event that alcohol is served.
Informal dinner parties are one of the greatest ways to get adults to play party games which are a great party supplies addon to the event. Board games, Charades, Word games, treasure hunts, etc. It is a good idea to have a few games in mind in case the conversation lulls. Here are a few games that are fun at any party.
“I Never.” This, technically, is a “drinking” game, but there is no rule that says that you have to drink alcohol to play it. The idea is to go around the table and have each person finish the phrase “I Never…” then everyone at the table who has done whatever that person hasn’t, takes a drink.
“Would You Rather” Again a simple game but not for the faint of heart! Each person gets to ask the question “would you rather?” and then present two options. For example: “would you rather eat worms or dance in the town square in your underwear and socks but nothing else?”
Charades: always fun.
“Six Degrees of Separation.” This became famous about a decade ago and was called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The idea is that you can link any actor back to Kevin Bacon in less than six steps. Choose a person (famous or other) and then have each person suggest someone else that you link to the first. See how many of you can do it in six steps or less!
“Two Truths and a Lie.” Each guest tells two things about themselves that is true and one thing that is a lie. The other guests get to guess which one of the three things is a lie.
Another play for the informal dinner party is that the decorations are often as informal as the party itself! Most people simply clean their homes and then put some fresh flowers out wherever the guests will be eating (make sure that nobody has any flower allergies). Some people like to hang decorative streamers or balloons or banners-but if the occasion doesn’t call for them, then you don’t need to worry about decorations at all. Informal dinner parties are more about the conversation and interaction of the guests than their surroundings.
With most informal get togethers, gift exchanges and goody bags aren’t really necessary, unless you are getting together for someone’s birthday or other event wherein gifts would be exchanged (holidays, anniversaries, etc). Most often, the guests are sent home with leftovers, if there are any leftovers to be had!
The good news is that with informal dinner parties and get togethers the host/hostess gift isn’t required. If you decide to bring a gift, let it be as informal as the get together itself. A nice, inexpensive decoration for the home, perhaps a CD or DVD that everyone can watch if the party starts to wind down-nothing too fancy or formal!
We hope you have enjoyed this party supplies information.
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