Bigger isn’t always better.
A small dinner party is an intimate, down-to-earth gathering that often requires less prep, fuss, and funds, than a larger one. And it’s not any less fun! Here are my top five reasons why you should consider throwing a small dinner party with friends, today.
Reason #1: You’re sick of small talk.
It’s weird that we almost only talk about our jobs and the weather with strangers. And for some reason, larger gatherings make it easy for this to happen.
A smaller group means you get to skip the small talk and instead, discuss something more meaningful. It also means you’re able to have discussions as a group, instead of only the person sitting beside you. Plus, you’ll never be awkwardly left out of a conversation again!
Make it a mission to avoid talking about someone’s work or personal relationships, and ask questions that stimulate thought or conversation.
For example, yesterday at a picnic with an old friend from university, we discussed the topic of how and if we’ve changed much over the past ten years. It was introspective and refreshing to look back on how we’ve evolved over the years.
Even if your group doesn’t appear to need help with conversation, sometimes it’s good to get a little nudge.
Tip: Make a list of your own conversation starters if you have the time (and creativity), or you can buy one like Table Topics.
Reason #2: Not all your friends are all extroverts.
We’re not all outgoing attention seekers. But that doesn’t mean the quiet, introverts in your life don’t enjoy a good dinner party.
A small dinner party is a perfect occasion to invite your friends that might not be as comfortable making small talk with strangers. A smaller group is less intimidating and makes it easier for people to speak up and get involved in discussions that larger gatherings might inhibit.
By creating a welcoming and intimate environment, your guests will feel more comfortable sharing stories and hopefully be able to connect with others on a deeper level.
Tip: Share an embarrassing personal story as an ice-breaker to kick things off and set the tone for the evening.
Reason #3: A small dinner party is affordable.
If you’re still paying off student debt, just got laid off, but don’t want to miss out on hosting a dinner, feel confident about hosting a small dinner party!
By feeding fewer people, there isn’t a financial burden to cover the cost of food. Plus, if you can’t afford to buy all the food, make it a potluck.
Try making a make-ahead one-pot meal (one of Ottolenghi’s recipes, a stew, baked chicken, or a braised cheap cut of meat). Keep appetizers to a minimum (you’d be surprised how far salted chips in a bowl go), and ask your guests to bring their own drinks.
And if they turn their nose up to that, they aren’t worth hosting.
Reason #4: You’ve got a small place.
It’s easy to put off hosting people in your home if it’s cramped, filled with mismatched furniture and looks nothing like what you see on Pinterest.
But trust me, as long as your guests aren’t sitting on clumps of cat hair, they won’t care!
One of the benefits of throwing a small dinner party is that you have size in your favor. Clear off your desk/dining room table/storage table and feel good about setting it up for your dinner party of four.
The fact that your place isn’t picture-perfect is also part of the charm, and, as long as it’s clean, your guests will feel welcome.
Make the most of what you’ve got (even if it’s the size of a shoe box). Remember to:
- Remove clutter. Just like a clear desk helps you clear your mind, decluttering your home will bring instant ease and comfort to you and your guests.
- Clean. Close doors to rooms you don’t want people peeking into and focus on the bathroom, kitchen, and living room. Make sure there’s space for people to hang jackets and a place to put their shoes if you invite them to take them off when they arrive.
- Move around. Invite your guests to stand and have appetizers on your balcony, eat dessert sitting on pillows around your coffee table, or end the night with a stroll around the neighborhood. This “grouping” allows your guests to remember certain aspects of the night better and makes for a unique gathering. Thanks to Priya Parker from The Art of Gathering for this tip!
Reason #5: You don’t have oodles of time.
It’s easy to waste time and energy planning a dinner party. I’ve been there before, and it’s draining.
Not only does it suck the energy out of you even before your guests arrive, but it’s also an unproductive and inefficient use of your time.
When you’re pressured to host fewer people, there’s just generally less to do. Some of the benefits of having a small dinner party include:
- following a recipe as written (for four or six)
- using your own furniture and cutlery and avoid having to borrow or buy anything extra.
- hosting on a weeknight
- spending less money on ingredients and alcohol
Small dinner parties for the win!
Just because you don’t have a huge friend group or a Pinterest worthy space to host, doesn’t mean you can’t throw a dinner party. Save yourself time and money and still experience the intoxicating post-dinner party glow by throwing a small dinner party.