How To Host A Laid Back Dinner Party In 6 Steps

Host a laid back dinner party with 6 easy steps. It will only LOOK like you spent hours! These stylish and approachable hostess tips will guide you through your summer entertaining step-by-step. I’ve included a dinner party menu that anyone can make, and a lovely inviting table setting. 

easy dinner party step by step

How to host a Casual Dinner Party

How do you host a fabulous dinner party when you’re short on time or confidence? Besides following this year’s worth of themed dinner party ideas, you can follow my step-by-step process that makes it super easy!

Sometimes entertaining can seem daunting. In fact, that’s one of the top reasons people choose NOT to entertain at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’m breaking it down for you right here. Host a laid back dinner party with these 6 step and you can feel comfortable whether you’re a first time host or simply a busy mom.

You can follow these tips when you have last minute guests, or you just don’t feel like pulling out all the stops.

I think you’ll find this process very attainable. This was one of the easier parties I’ve put together! And if you still want more dinner party menu ideas, here’s another casual dinner party you can do.

woven tote filled with wine and greenery
outdoor dinner party table setting
easy place settings for dinner party entertaining
flowers centerpiece

Easy Entertaining Dinner 

STEP 1:  Stop at the store and pick up what you need

Keep in mind you may already have things in your pantry or freezer that will work for you. For instance I almost always have a pack of frozen flatbread in the freezer, as well as cheese, turkey pepperoni, salad or chopped salad, and some sort of fruit in the fridge.

In the pantry I usually have canned artichokes, canned chicken, and tomato paste.

With these basic items I have the beginnings of a casual dinner party. It’s easy to make 3-topping mini pizzas by picking up a few extra items. And while I’m at it, wine is a must!

Pick up 3-4 bottles of wine. Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé all go great with pizza. The Rosé is very refreshing, while the Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and goes down easy. As reds go, I’ve always been a fan of Malbec. This is nice with the pepperoni pizza and also pairs well with red meat and pasta.

The labels on these wines are informative with pairing suggestions and tasting notes. A great resource when you’re looking for something new to try. Plus they’re affordable at around $9-$11 each.

Dinner Party Menu Ideas for 6

Pair the mini pizzas with a chopped salad and fresh fruit. Add a party cheese board to graze on while the pizza cooks. Create a menu for 6 by estimating at least 2 1/2 mini pizzas per person.

HOSTESS TIP: 3-Topping mini pizzas are a great go-to for easy entertaining. You can create them in large sizes too.

My mini pizzas for this party include: 

  • tomato paste + turkey pepperoni + grated Parmesan; garnish with fresh basil
  • chicken + artichoke + grated Parmesan; lightly drizzle EVOO as the base ‘sauce’ and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  • grated Parmesan + fresh figs + goat cheese; garnish with arugula

Some other favorite pizza recipes are honey drizzled ham & arugula pizza, this quick & easy pesto pizza, and bbq chicken pizza.

STEP 2:  Flowers

If you’re stopping at the store you might as well pick up flowers for a centerpiece. A couple of bunches will do. This time of year we have a nice selection of locally grown ‘farmers picks’ that look great mixed with seeded eucalyptus. Check out my secrets to flower arranging here.

salad board and fruit
hostess pouring wine
mini pizzas on wood board
dinner party favors
dinner party menu

Casual Dinner Party Ideas

STEP 3:  Set the table

Create a simple but attractive table setting. Use casual rattan chargers with a single dinner plate is refined and lovely.

A nice collection of napkins can go a long way in dressing up a table. These striped napkins add interest while the flowers and food add color. There’s no need to use place cards for a laid back dinner party. This is about keeping it easy and carefree.

STEP 4:  Keep dessert simple.

Purchase ready-made pies, cakes, or macarons from the bakery section. Here I placed a couple of colorful macarons into small jars. These can be a light dessert treat after the meal, or guests can take them home as a party favor. Mini s’mores kit favors are also a great take home gift for guests.

Laid Back Dinner party

STEP 5:  Presentation is everything

A little food presentation goes a long way. Make your dinner party table setting look extra special by serving the food in an attractive way. How much more effort does it take to serve a chopped salad on a wood cutting board? None! But it’s unexpected and interesting, and fresh fruit can be placed around it so no extra dish is needed for that.

Another wood board serves up the mini pizzas. Edible flowers can be found in the packaged herb section of some grocery stores. Grab a pack and sprinkle them around your food boards to elevate the presentation of this casual menu.

HOSTESS TIP: Use wooden cutting boards as serving platters for food.

STEP 6:  Relax and have fun

This party took about an hour to prepare all the steps including table setting, flower arrangement, and prepping food. A trip to the store is not included in the time frame.

The mini pizzas can be created by you or you can let guests make their own as an interactive activity while sipping on Rosé. Either way, you can pop the pizzas in the oven or on the grill and nosh on a cheese board while they cook.

How to Entertain at a Dinner Party

There’s no need to worry about keeping your guests entertained. In my experience a little wine goes a long way in keep the conversation going. But if you have a lull or just want to add something extra, try one of these entertainment ideas. *affiliate links

I hope that “over thinking” things won’t get in the way of gathering with friends over dinner. Just follow these steps for a laid back dinner party and you’ll be all set. Cheers!

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  1. always love your ideas and think for once, I’m going to try this for our summer dinner party
    thanks for always making it look easy!

  2. LOVE these tips! I always work myself to death when entertaining, but I’ll take a cue from you and scale back!

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