Whether you are planning a major corporate event or a social dinner party, there are three questions you need to ask yourself before you start planning:
What do you want people to Think? How do you want people to Feel? What do you want people to Do?
Set A Specific Goal
Even in social settings you have to get clear with yourself about what the goals are when you’re thinking about what to serve
Is your goal to show off new dishes because you’re a budding chef?
If so, put thought into the complexity of the dish. I once set a goal that I wanted to learn how to braise shortribs in wine. Once I perfected this skill, it was a perfect opportunity to prepare them for a New Years dinner party!
Maybe your goal is you want to engage with people you haven’t seen in a while?
Come up with a menu you can put in the oven while guests arrive or make in advance then spend just 10 minutes to finish up. This way, you won’t be stuck behind a stove and can offer each guest a glass of wine and catch up with them. #superhost!
Prioritize Your Goals
Before planning an event, I always lead a prioritization exercise to get clear on the experience we want to create.
People usually want an event to accomplish a lot, but guests have so much competition for their attention and mind space, you can really only take away three things from an event. I know, I know, you want them to remember so much more, but trust me on this one!
Think about the last time someone asked you about an event. How did you describe it? How much detail? Most people are never going to say more than three things, so when I work with people or even when I’m planning my own events I list all the things I want people to think or feel.
After all those ideas are down on a list I can start to prioritize each one. Once I know the three most important things, I can start to put attention on those.
Questions To Ask Before Your dinner party
1. What do you want attendees to feel while here?
This helps you get into the mindset of your guests and reminds you of the reason why you’re hosting the dinner party! If you want them to feel loved, what are you doing to show them this while at your dinner?
2. What are two things you must have and two things you would like to have if time and budget permit?
This helps you prioritize where your focus should be before you allocate time and budget to all the ideas you have.
3. What is the most important part of the environment?
If it’s mood, think through your lighting, scent, music. If you want people to connect, think of your seating plan strategy.
4. How much effort, time, and money do you want to spend?
Paying a venue but means you don’t have to clean your house and they’ll handle the food so you can focus on other details like gift bags, music, speeches, etc.
5. What can you outsource?
Figure out how you can get help, because no matter how awesome you are - no one can do it all.
Want to capture photos at your social event? I started hiring task rabbit photographers to come to my events and take photos with my phone that way I make sure I capture everything without burdening your guests.
My mom has her housekeepers come to dinner parties so they can do the dishes and she can spend time socializing with her guests without worrying about the clean up between courses.