7 Things You Need to Make Your Next Dinner Party Stress-Free

We asked six party planners to pick the items they rely on most to simplify their dinner parties. Their answers might surprise you!

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May 03, 2019

When you’re inviting friends and family over for dinner, the last thing you want to be is frazzled — or stuck in the kitchen. So, to help streamline the party planning, we asked party planning experts to share their go-to items that make throwing a dinner party super easy, from set-up and décor to food and drink prep. Read on for the things that will make your next dinner party the best yet!


BUY IT: Glass Pitcher with Stainless Steel Lid; Amazon, $19.45

"I love filling clear pitchers with water infused with lemon or other goodies," says Michele Fox Gott, owner of Center of Attention Events in Burbank, CA. "This makes your table colorful while giving guests the opportunity to refill their water goblets on their own so you don’t have to!"

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BUY IT: Ramekin Set; Amazon, $14.99

"Ramekin dishes are the thing that makes throwing a dinner party easy," says Kendra Stephen, a party planner in Fort Lauderdale, FL. "You can use them to pre-portion sides and desserts. I also love them because you can customize certain dishes as needed for specific guests. For example, if you have a guest who doesn’t want cheese in their dish or would prefer vegetables in their lasagna you can easily do it without having to make a whole big pan of vegetable lasagna."

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BUY IT: Bamboo Cutting Board; Amazon, $18.99

"I fill cutting boards with cheeses and bright fruits and place them right in the middle of the table," says Gott. "I also love buying big rustic loaves of bread and putting the loaves straight onto the table linens for a rustic yet elegant touch. Best of all: While you are doing your final preparations, guests can nibble on the decor."

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BUY IT: Crock-Pot Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker; Amazon, $49.99

"Dinner parties can happen any night of the week with the use of your helpful slow cooker," says Lauren Goldberg, owner of Electric Celebrations in Brooklyn, NY. "You can place a pork shoulder in the slow cooker before work and it will be ready to feed a crowd upon your return home. Just add an easy side like a steamed veggie or baked potato and you’ve got yourself a meal!"

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BUY IT: Glass Punch Bowl; Amazon, $39.10

Instead of having to put out a full bar, pick a cocktail for the night and prepare a batch of it, suggests Harrison Bader, a personal chef at At Your Table Chefs in Los Angeles. "Maybe you're throwing a fiesta-themed dinner party and you want to make margaritas. Prepare a batch of your margarita mix in a large punch bowl and have it on the table next to a bucket of ice. When that is done, your guests can refill their drinks at their own leisure and you have time to play host and mingle."

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BUY IT: Copper & Stainless Steel Colander; Amazon, $9.50

"You’ll find more time to enjoy your party by using dual pieces, like a colander or restaurant-grade baking sheet that you can use from prep time, to dinner time to clean up time," says Nicole Meyer, owner of Nibbles by Nic, a menu planning expert in Roslyn, NY. "Who wants to spend the night in the kitchen cooking and then at the kitchen sink when you should be enjoying your guests?"

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BUY IT: Heat-Resistant Placemats; Amazon, $13.99

"Placemats are in," says Steve Bales, creative director of Bold Catering & Design in Atlanta. "Rattan, wicker, even a cool mesh placemat can serve as a quick and easy way to add pizazz to your table. As a bonus, they will go with just about any linen — solid or print — that you may have in the closet already."

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