I’m excited to be partnering with Seven Daughters wine to bring you a series of posts in the coming months that revolve around my favorite subject: DIY. And today marks the first post in the series.
Much to my dismay, summer is almost over. But before we say goodbye to those long days in the sun, I thought it was only fitting to give this season one last farewell. While also giving a little shout out to the upcoming season. Kind of a transition party… Summer, meet fall. Fall, meet summer.
And what better way to do that than with a little dinner party. Right?
So, today I’m sharing my 7 DIY entertaining hacks for throwing a great dinner party, in partnership with Seven Daughters wine. Think DIY decor, clever custom touches, (super) quick recipes, and plenty of drinks. All with the summer to fall transition in mind. Sound good? Let’s jump in.
Here are 7 DIY entertaining hacks to get you through your next dinner party in style.
1. Make it Comfortable. I used an irregular size table for the party, which means my tablecloth hung quite low, over the chairs. To make things comfortable for guests when they sit down, I duct taped the tablecloth underneath to be the proper height (tucked up and away so guests can scoot their chairs in comfortably. Don’t worry! You can’t see the duct tape at all, its completely hidden. Ah, the power of duct tape.
Also, it might be a good idea to remove unnecessary / excess items from the table. Feel free to use the entire room, to keep things from feeling too crowded or overwhelming. I used a bar cart to keep appetizers handy (it’s on wheels, so I could roll it over to the table when necessary). And I kept desserts on display over on the buffet credenza to add to the decor.
2. Improvise. Use a large pattern blanket as a rug underneath the table at dinner for a pop of pattern that grounds the space. Bonus! After guests go home, you can pop the blanket into the washer and clean up any spills or stains from the party. It’s a lot easier than trying to clean an expensive rug (or floors with carpet).
3. Create a focal point with a simple centerpiece. Using fresh flowers or succulents, you can create a simple DIY centerpiece to add interest to the table, without being too formal. Use short vases and vessels from around the house or try this DIY concrete planter idea for something more modern and minimal. And don’t forget this tutorial for a simple fresh flower centerpiece as well, if you need some inspiration.
4. Quirky details. A few out of the box details are always memorable for guest. So, I made DIY edible name plates out of pie crust for each person. I used store bought pie crust (that you bake yourself), to make things easy, and cut out the letters with one inch alphabet cookie cutters. Pop them in the oven for a few minutes (these will cook fast because they’re so small) and add them to each place setting after they’ve cooled. Viola. Edible place cards. Yum.
I also added leftover pie crust letters to the tiny petit four treats that guests took home with them as a late night snack. Just leave a stack of glassine bags next to the tray and guests can take them on the go.
5. All about texture. I love incorporating different textures and textiles, so I used a simple linen tablecloth and contrasting DIY painted napkins. The grey napkins I wanted to use were a little too plain, so I painted stripes on them with white fabric paint to add interest. Each one has a slightly different pattern and I’ll reuse them again and again.
The knotted DIY garland that hung over the table adds a little bit of height and it’s a little playful. To get the look, just knot a long strand of thick yarn every 1-2 feet, and hang. Similar to the knotted garland DIY I made a while back.
6. Keep the menu easy. I like to do heavy appetizers and a lighter meal because it’s easier to prepare ahead of time and you can spend more time with guests, and less time in the kitchen. My go-to appetizer lately is a fig and honey goat cheese crostini. So good!
Just cut up a baguette into half inch slices and pop them in the oven at 350 for a few minutes (you want them to be toasty but not too hard). Wait for them to cool, add a soft goat cheese and a couple of figs and then a little bit of honey. This is a super easy one for guests to make themselves, right at the table, if you run out of time before people start arriving. Tip: If you don’t have a honeycomb stick, dip the handle of a spoon or fork into the jar instead. It works just as well.
I also created a DIY menu display, that I propped up on the buffet, next to a piece of art. I typed out all of the menu items and arranged them into a triangle. Then printed it, cut it out, and attached it to decorative paper that was then framed.
When it came time for dessert, there were a few choices…an apple layer cake (which was so good) and two mini pies. I decorated the cake with an edible DIY cake topper: champagne grapes and leftover figs. This is a super easy, and delicious, way to dress up a store-bought cake.
7. Plenty of drinks. I think the key to a good party is having lots of options in the food and drink category. I already touched on food, so as far as drinks are concerned, I like wine for a laid back meal with friends. Seven Daughters has a great selection, so I had all of their varietals available for guests. We mostly sipped on the Rich Red Winemaker’s Blend and Chardonnay.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to pair wines with the food menu. So, keep that in mind. Be sure to have non-alcoholic beverages as well, for those that don’t drink.
So those are my DIY dinner party hacks. Now that you’re prepared for your next get-together, here are a few more photos from the shoot…
Photography by Sarah Eddy
Models Jordan Brantley and Amber Hoadley
Concept, projects, and styling Brittni Mehlhoff
What are some of your tips (or tricks) for entertaining? Any DIY hacks to share?
This post is in partnership with Seven Daughters Wine. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this site possible.
30 comments | Click here to reply
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Thanks Emily! The wine glasses are from West Elm. Here’s the link http://rstyle.me/n/pqvgemvmwBrittni
Gorgeous, I love the knotted garland. Where did you get those small sipping glasses?? I have been searching for ones those size for ages!Emily
Thanks Emi. The alphabet cookie cutters are from Amazon. It’s less than $10 for the whole set of letters and numbers. Here’s the link http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009PU010/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0009PU010&linkCode=as2&tag=papernstitch-20&linkId=PABMOK6KFSFWJU4KBrittni
I love this!! Question – where did you get the alphabet cookie cutters?? I love and want them! 🙂Emi
Thanks Carla. This set up would be great for a lunch, instead of dinner, as well. Good thinking.Brittni
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I love it! The colors are awsome, and the food also!
I take note for prepare a special lunch with friends like yours!
So good! Loving the photos and fig and honey goat cheese crostini’s!!
Thanks Gianna. A campfire dinner party sounds awesome.Brittni
Mmmm. This looks so lovely! My favorite of your ideas are the flower centerprice, and the knotted garland.
I think having a party outside would be a lovely way to transition to fall also. Autumn doesn’t go without campfires, and so a sweetly decorated dinner with a campfire at the end sounds heavenly to me.
Thanks for sharing!Gianna
Thanks Heather. The wine glasses are from West Elm.Brittni
I love it all! Especially the petit fours and the pie crust name place settings. Where did you get those glasses you used for wine? Love those, too!heather darling
I can imagine that getting pretty tricky, Amber. Maybe you can make the pie crust name plates for your kids for a fun dinner (and dessert) one night instead. Sounds like a fun ‘dinner party’ to me. 🙂Brittni
It all looks so beautiful! I wish I had the time to creat something as lovely as this, but with four kids it gets a little tricky to even find the time to have people over for a meal. The pastry name tags are a fabulous idea.Amber Rhodes
Thanks B. Let me know how it goes! They’re so, so easy to make.Brittni
Those edible place settings are completely adorable – can’t wait to try them at my next party!B @ The Sequin Notebook
Thanks Natalie. Several people have asked me about those plates on Instagram, from my sneak peek photos. The bottom blue plates are Heath Ceramics and Hasami has really great (similar shaped) plates to the top two. Hope that helps. 🙂Brittni
Beyond lovely! And those plates! Where did you find such lovely things?natalie
Thanks Marlen! That blanket is perfect for so many random things. I just love the pattern, so I’ll come up with any excuse to use it. 🙂
P.S. Love that fancy sweatpants outfit you recently posted. So cute.Brittni
what a super fun collaboration- can I be invited to your next party please? 🙂 I thought it was GENIUS how you used a blanket as a rug- I would have never thought of that. And the cord garlands are just too cute!
Messages on a Napkin
Thanks so much Courtney. The pie letters were one of my favorite touches…Mainly because I love pie crust. 🙂Brittni
This is beyond gorgeous! I love the little letters on the petit fours. Fabulous! 🙂Courtney @ Pizzazzerie
Aw, thanks Kel. I appreciate that. You better send me an invite to your next dinner party. Even if I do live a few thousand miles away. Minor detail.Brittni
I don’t even know where to start with this! I agree with Chelsea, the colors are just unREAL! I’m really obsessed with those petit fours though, I mean… WHAT! So good, Britt. Everything about this makes me want to throw a dinner party, STAT!Kelly @ Studio DIY
Thanks Chels. Balsamic with goat cheese and figs sounds good too! I’ll have to try that.Brittni
First of all, I love this! The colors are just so good. And secondly, we must be having a fig mindmeld because I just made some fig & goat cheese crostini for Laicie over at A Thousand Threads! Bonkers. I use balsamic on mine instead of honey, but I’ll have to try your way next time. So pretty!Chelsea Foy