How I Gather

Bringing people together around a table is our greatest passion in life and we believe food is one of the most powerful tools for connection. In our series, How I Gather we go behind the scenes with our favorite foodies to see how they do it. See All

Good hostesses often pull from the same general bag of tricks: Fresh cut flowers? Check. Maldon salt? Double-check. But our long-running Tastemakers series has revealed that great hostesses always develop a few unexpected touches to make their parties truly memorable.

We’ve gathered a lot of ideas over the years, and the tips below are a few of our very favorites. From seating dinner guests on the floor to starving them (just a little) before dinner, take notes from Daphne Oz, Athena Calderone, Eden Grinshpan, Jenni Kayne, and more for the best entertaining tips to make a memorable dinner party or gathering.

photo by nicki sebastian

Send your guests to the chicken coop.

Actress and cookbook author Tiffani Theissen lets family and guests gather their own eggs from her backyard chicken coop, then uses the eggs in her menu—everything from frittatas to scrambles!

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Dress to match the menu.

LA catering star Annie Campbell designs unforgettable meals, and her planning process always starts with defining a color palette. The palette extends from the food itself all the way to the flowers and even to the clothing she wears herself.


photo by sara prince

Serve dinner on the floor.

Inspired by her lack of a proper dining room table, chef Loria Stern began hosting “Magic Carpet Dinners” several years ago. She’s continued the tradition ever since, finding that the casualness of floor seating naturally puts guests at ease and encourages intimate conversation.

photo by melissa gidney

Invite a special guest.

When Camille was visiting Jenni Kayne in California, the designer surprised her guests by inviting renowned sex and relationship therapist Esther Perel to join them at the dinner table. The result was a fascinating conversation and an unforgettable dinner. You could invite a local wine expert, poet, or therapist to join your next dinner party.

photo by kate holstein

Get your guests good and hungry before the meal.

Travel photographer Kate Holstein likes to serve a super light appetizer before the main meal, to ensure that guests sit down to the dinner table hungry for a delicious meal.

photo by winnie au

Don’t be afraid to order in.

Restauranteur and TV host Eden Grinshpan is all about keeping it casual. “Bringing people over to hang out and eat good food is exactly what [my husband and I] want to be doing. We’re also okay with ordering in. We’re not against that.”

photo by trevor ekanger

Designate yourself as the hostess with a special apron.

Author and blogger Joy the Baker likes to wear a pink Hedley & Bennet apron when she’s entertaining.

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Serve a dessert that’s fit for a kid.

TV personality and cookbook author Daphne Oz would rather channel her inner child than Julia Child when it comes to dessert—she likes to serve guests ice cream sandwiches after a delicious meal.

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Make breakfast for dinner.

Textile designer, Heather Taylor put together a European hotel brunch-inspired dinner in her backyard, and we couldn’t get enough.

photo by johnny miller for eye swoon

Ask a friend to make the playlist for you.

Author and blogger Athena Calderone would rather be in the kitchen than at the computer, so she always asks a friend to make the dinner party playlist for her.

photo by danielle rose

Take your party on the road.

Designer Denai Jones and her husband have two vintage VW buses, which they use to take their dinner parties straight to the beach.

photo by brandi schutt

Offer your guests a dressed-up shot.

Food Network star Marcella Valladolid offers guests her favorite drink at any dinner party—“Tequila. Straight. In a snifter. With an orange wedge. My dad’s venom of choice!”

Read more inspiring interviews in our Tastemakers series. 


This post was originally published on November 15, 2019, and has since been updated.

Share this Post