The 3 Keys to an Epic Dinner Party
Fun florals, good wine, and a solid playlist are all you need.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:53 AM
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Hey, are you having a party? Incredible, we’d love to help. Throwing epic dinner parties just so happens to be a favorite pastime of Domino editors. While food is important, people aren’t coming over to have a restaurant experience—they want to have fun, spend time with you, and maybe get a cute Instagram shot or two.
To make that happen, there are three key things to perfect: wine, flowers, and music. During a recent workshop with our friends at CB2, we broke down the basics to give you all the tips and tricks you need for the perfect night in with friends.
When it comes to wine, you can go two ways: Open up a bottle and grab a few juice glasses for casual sipping, or you can make it into an art form, with the perfect stemware and optimal conditions for each type of wine. CB2 has an incredible collection of affordable glassware, so we like to go for the latter, so we can show off our favorites.
To decant or not to decant, that is the question: In addition to adding visual interest to your table, decanting a wine causes maximum surface area exposure to the air, which opens the wine up for a better drinking experience (we can’t resist the elegant curves of CB2’s Frost Wine Decanter, so we will always opt to decant). This is ideal for a heavier red wine or one that still requires some age. Red wine likes to be a touch chilly, serve it between 54-65 degrees.
For stemware, the Clarity Iridescent Wine Glass works well for reds because they have a larger bowl and rim, allowing more air onto the surface area of the wine, which will open up the wine, maximizing nose and flavor. Plus: The slight rainbow tint adds a fun touch of color, a must at any Domino fête.
Drinking sparkling wine should be celebratory and there’s nothing more celebratory than the Iridescent Champagne Flute, (seriously, this is one of our editorial teams favorite glasses ever; we’ll be gifting them to all of our friends). And bonus points: They also double as a vessel for a minimalist floral arrangement. Store your champagne between 43-47 degrees for optimal flavor.
White wines loved to be chilled, so aim for a temperature between 48-52 degrees. The sleek Ghost Smoke Grey White Wine Glass is our preferred stemware for dry whites since the glass has a narrow bowl and rim, which means less aeration, keeping stainless steel-aged wines crisp. The Sophia Optic Wine Glass is better for full-bodied whites like Chardonay or White Burgundy because it has a larger rim.
Nothing changes the feeling of a table like a floral arrangement. It can seem intimidating to make your own, but our editors have perfected the art of thoughtful, simple flower displays that are easy to create. Just follow these three tips:
1. Stick to one color.
Our editorial team loves to play with a single color palette to really optimize a look and make a bold statement, usually that means staying within one color, but using different tones. During the workshop, we opted for an ombre of pink flowers, with a few accents of greenery.
2. Get creative with your vessels.
Out of vases? Or nothing is the right size or height? Don’t be afraid to use a simple glass for a floral vessel, like CB2’s Marta Coolers. Bonus: They only cost $2.50, and when’s the last time you found a chic vase for $2.50? Literally never!
3. Tape is your secret weapon.
Flowers swaying to and fro? Create a grid pattern inside of your arrangement to give flowers stability. Ideally use a clear floral tape or even scotch tape so it’s less noticeable.
4. Keep it small.
To make a statement, you may think bigger is better, but when it comes to a dinner party, nothing is worse than not being able to gossip with friends across the table because of a large floral arrangement. Use the ole’ elbow trick: place your elbow on the table, and if your flowers are taller than the height of your fist, cut them a bit shorter so they aren’t a distraction.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with width. Throw in some eucalyptus; it’s light, so it’s able to make a wide arrangement without weighing down a lightweight vase or a few simple flowers. You can also make a few arrangements in the Marta Coolers and run them down the length of the table.
Vinyl vs. Digital
If video killed the radio star, did Spotify kill the vinyl player? We think not. We love to bounce between the two during a party, but keep the location of the vinyl player in mind. You want to be close enough that you can flip the record, and assure you like each song on an album so you don’t have to get up and switch between albums constantly. We love using an old school compilation like a Hawaiian Luau, an Italian holiday mix, or a classic soundtrack.
Whether you’re going old school or high-tech, the secret to an effortless soundtrack is having a speaker that sounds like a surround sound system but is snug enough to fit into a New York City apartment. Enter: The small but mighty Audio Pro Addon C5 Pink Wireless Speaker. You can connect via wifi, Bluetooth, or ethernet, and vinyl devotees can easily plug and play to stream your record player to your whole system.
Start Slow, Build Up
As guests arrive, start with songs from artists that people know, like Nina Simone. Slowly start playing songs that bring up the beat as the songs go on, so there is excitement before you sit down.
For a sit-down dinner, play pleasing but not too beat heavy music, like Air or M83. Mix in new bands so you can help fill in natural lulls and get guests interested in what’s playing.
Towards the end of the meal, amp up the energy to turn the dinner party into a dance party. Play songs that people can’t help but sing along to, like Fleetwood Mac or Whitney Houston.
For the workshop, Domino made coasters that has a scan code, so when you open Spotify, you can scan the code and it takes you immediately to the playlist. (The direct link is here too!) Think of such a touch for your house party. We used foryourparty.com to customize our coasters, they are the absolute best.
To assure there are no lulls, go for a playlist (with the above mentioned flow) that’s about five or six hours in length, just so you have enough songs on one playlist that you don’t have to worry about DJing throughout the night. Visuals Director and resident Domino DJ Meghan McNeer created the ultimate dinner party playlist for our workshop—which you can find and listen to here.
Pro tip: To make it easy to share the playlist, we made custom coasters using foryourparty.com that included a Spotify barcode guests could scan that would take them immediately to the playlist.