I recently read that the first usage of the term “dinner party” came from Jane Austen’s Emma. Whether or not this is true doesn’t matter because when it comes to Austen’s most frustrating leading lady I’m somehow not surprised that a whole term would come into being to suite her needs.
Here are some Emma-inspired tips for throwing your own dinner party.
1. RSVPs with all dietary options: Let’s face it, Emma would want her guests to feel comfortable so she would make sure to accommodate all dietary restrictions; from lactose-intolerance to someone on the Paleo diet.
2. Live floral arrangements: While cut flowers are the standard I think the clever hostess would choose live arrangements for her table to be sustainable and chic. Plus small pots can double as party favors at the end of the night.
3. Place-cards: This is where Emma’s match-making abilities would shine. She would use place-cards to strategically pair off her friends while showing off her customizing skills.
4. A specialty cocktail: While pairing wines with courses is a classic move, I think creating a special cocktail for the night would be more stylish. Not only does it make the dinner party seem more unique, it gives people a chance to try new things.
5. Matching linens: Yes, Emma would make sure her tablecloth, napkins and even table runner matched. Instead of something fancy I suggest going for a set of napkins and a tablecloth. It’s classy and makes you feel like your life is a little more together than it actually is.
6. After dessert board games: Hopefully people will be so thrilled by the conversation over dinner that they’ll will want to stay past dessert to continue mingling. Instead of putting on a movie I suggest taking out the board games. I’ve gotten to know many new faces a lot better over a good game of Clue or Risk.
7. Menu items that are locally sourced and in season: Chic and savvy screams Emma (although social savvy is one thing she often lacks) so why not check out local vendors and markets for extra unique menu items. Not only is it more sustainable to shop locally and in season, it shows that you are a considerate and knowing hostess.
8. Gifts: Yes, Emma would leave her guests with parting gifts. If you don’t have individual plants for the table arrangements then try a little box of after-dinner mints or individual bags of tea and coffee.
9. Cheese plate before dinner: Yet another way to get people talking! Lay out some cheese and crackers before dinner so guests can get chummy while you finish up any last minute kitchen catastrophes.
10. DIY dessert: I feel like Emma would want to get her guests involved in dinner so setting up a DIY dessert would be a cute way to let people customize and feel like a kid again.
-Admin B is a journalist, filmmaker and nerd.