It has become a lost art, and no, we aren’t talking about dressing classy, face to face communication, handwritten sentiments, chivalry, or etiquette (although all those things are lovely themselves). We are talking about the good old fashioned American dinner party in all of its glory. You thought you hated them all those years as a child, staring at the ceiling in uncomfortable clothes, pushing around some mashed potatoes on your plate, and wondering what in the world are all of these adults talking about?! But we are here to tell you that you definitely thought wrong. Here at Country Club Prep we highly esteem the classic dinner party and want to bring it back to life, sans boringness. Get ready to feel the American dream in the best way possible: sitting at the head of your dining table overlooking the beautiful spread you have prepared and the family and friends you have brought together.
Chivalry may be dead but the dinner party certainly will not be. We have gathered here today the easy steps you can take to host the perfect preppy dinner party and wow all of your friends, family, and neighbors. If you really want to “go all out” as those young kids say, you’ll need a great set up, a delectable dining spread, and a perfectly curated host or hostess outfit (props to you if you read that list in the same way Elle Woods’ guidance counselor reads the list of what requirements she needs to get into Harvard… “a 179 on your LSAT!”). *Cue montage of determination to host the perfect preppy dinner party to the tune of Joanna Pacitti’s “Watch Me Shine”*
#1 The Decor
So you have decided to host a dinner party... get ready to whitewash the walls, shampoo the carpets, reshingle the roof, shop for a new sofa, steam clean the drapes, and sweep the chimney… you know what at this point you should just redo the whole house. Not! While going to the extreme is not necessary to host a fabulous dinner party, there are some things you can add to your home and your party decor to give a touch of class. First, get creative with your tablescape, because if your table looks beautiful it will distract from the fact that you may have left the chicken in too long or forgot to season the green beans...or it will just add an extra touch to your perfectly cooked meal! Either way, here are some suggestions. Just like the preppy style, your tablescape should stick to clean lines and simple colors like white and navy. Adding gentle lighting with candles will give the table a warm feel, and monogrammed napkin holders will be sure to amuse every preppy gal at the table.
It wouldn’t really be a party if there weren’t any adult beverages there, but that’s just our *sips beer* humble opinion. Which leads us to our next necessity, a well stocked and formatted selection of drinks. Any classy host or hostess knows you can’t have a preppy party without champagne, specifically when it’s toted in ice buckets throughout your lawn and home. Next, we suggest a centralized station, such as a counter, table, or bar cart, for specific drinks that are to pair with your prepared dinner. A quick google search will yield plenty of suggestions for drinks that complement your meal of choice beautifully. Set out the ingredients, cute cups, decorative straws and napkins, garnishes, and printed recipe cards for a fun and fuss free do-it-yourself drink station. Then check out our collection of Smathers and Branson preppy needlepoint coasters and koozies to protect your furniture and add an extra classy touch to your party decor. Let the festivities begin!
#2 The Spread
This is your chance to really bring on the southern charm and show the guests that momma raised you right (or that you just read a really great article from Country Club Prep). It can be overwhelming trying to format the perfect meal with so many recipes out there, but to really keep with the timeless preppy feel of the night, keep the food simple and classic. When cooking for guests, make something you personally love and are familiar with rather than trying an anomaly of a recipe for the first time. There are many ways to go about this, but we suggest something simple like roasted or grilled chicken, rosemary red potatoes, and a fresh salad with seasonal vegetables. Still need more inspiration? Check out Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. For years she has been showing us all how to host the perfect preppy dinner party (and giving us major heart eyes over her beautiful East Hampton, New York home).
Even if your meal doesn’t turn out nearly as good as Ina’s, remember her wise words, “I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand. A warm smile on my face. And great music in the background. Because that’s what gets a dinner party off to a fun start.”
#3 What to Wear!
You now have the perfect preppy set up in your home and a delicious southern meal cooked up, now it’s time to get dressed in your preppy best (yes that rhymed). If the guests are arriving at 7:00, but the prime rib will need to be basted at 6:45, but you have to sit in on the piano tuning appointment at 6:30, but you have to pick the flowers for the table just before the sunsets at 6:00, when are you going to have time to get ready? Instead of fretting over what to wear and when you’ll have the time to get dressed in between cooking and ushering in guests, take a look at some of the simple yet polished outfits that are available on our website. An easy breezy (and not to mention preppy) dress will keep you comfortable and stylish all night long, while also being super easy to pull together in a flash! No more ironing, tucking, buttoning, matching, folding, or rolling needed, just throw it on with a pair of simple heels or Jack Rogers and a string of pearls, and you’ll be ready to (dinner) party the night away. A few of our top hostess dress suggestions for this special affair are:
Thought dinner party hostesses only wore pinafores? Think again. You’ll be the hostess with the mostest in this vibrant and fun tangerine off the shoulder dress from Show Me Your Mumu. When guests arrive to the sight of you handing out glasses of champagne while wearing this dress, they will instantly know this is going to be a great party.
We know that not every dinner party you host is going to be formal, and sometimes you will want a more casual and fun look. For your next casual summer dinner party that you host or attend, we suggest this fun off the shoulder plaid dress from Southern Tide. Pair with sandals and bright earrings as pictured for the perfect party look!
For a classic preppy hostess look, you can never go wrong with a clean white dress (unless of course you cook spaghetti). The simple lines of this dress will keep you looking classy all evening, while the crisp seersucker fabric stays wrinkle and fuss free. Pair with KJP pearls and a navy cardigan, et voila!
Another more casual look, this sleeveless tunic is perfect for summer dinner parties hosted on your patio. We can already picture you in this dress, carrying out a platter of lobster rolls to your backyard on The Cape. Pair with navy or gold Jack Rogers and a string of pearls for an effortlessly preppy look.
So that's it for us. Now get out there, and get cooking! Remember, if all else fails a little butter and a lot of wine can always save the day!
This article felt as if I was personally planning and hosting a dinner party, great suggestions and ideas for a relaxed but elegant affair. Thank you for a well thought out plan.