The 15 Basic Entertaining Essentials You Have to Have
Hosting a dinner party with a carefully curated collection of entertaining essentials is something to be envied. Especially today, with infinite sources of inspiration at our fingertips to help get those creative juices flowing. While it can be easy to play the comparison game and end up feeling a bit intimidated at the thought of the effort, expense, and skill it may take to achieve what you see on Instagram, Pinterest, or at a friend’s gathering, we want you to know it can be done!
We love sharing our experiences and little secret recipes to hosting a dinner party that’s always unforgettable. But, while honing your skills is one thing, being equipped with the entertaining essentials you need is quite another. And that’s where we’d like to start.
We’ve put together this guide to help you take the first steps in collecting what you need to host a dinner party at any effort level successfully.
How Do We Define Entertaining Essentials?
If you know anything about our family, you know we love to entertain, and by doing so often, we’ve learned what is needed to pull it all together. We take presentation seriously, from perfectly garnished recipes to the beautiful dishes we serve them on. So, when the seven of us sat down to define what we consider entertaining essentials, we naturally turned to look at each of our own curated collections to define what the basic essentials are.
We quickly discovered several things. First, each of us has a different size collection and various dinnerware sets. Secondly, the mix of essentials we've accumulated is unique to our own preferences, personalities, and styles. Finally, and most importantly, the key dining essentials were all the same.
Think of entertaining essentials as your go-to items for hosting, serving, and dining that you cannot live without! They are the functional pieces absolutely necessary to your dinner party or gathering that will grow with your family and entertaining needs. A great collection of entertaining essentials will equip you with on-hand serveware to use for each course, dish, and space for years to come.
Why Start with a Collection of Entertaining Essentials?
When you start your dining collection with the essentials, you’ll be prepared and equipped with everything you need to entertain. From an intimate family dinner around the table to entertaining outside on the patio with friends, having the essentials on hand will get you started on the right foot.
By starting with a list of specific dinnerware sets, serveware, and other essentials, you'll always know exactly what you have to accommodate your needs. Imagine being able to plan last-minute outdoor entertaining events or squeeze in a few unexpected guests without stress or worry. When you have your essentials in place, you’ll never find yourself scrambling at the last minute or doing without.
Let’s be honest - when you feel prepared, you also feel more confident. Knowing you have everything you need to entertain your guests allows you to feel comfortable enough to step back and focus on entertaining. You can spend more time with your friends and family, creating the memories that matter most!
What Are the Entertaining Essentials Every Host Needs?
It may take some time to start accumulating your essentials, so don’t feel discouraged if you can’t invest in everything at once. There are plenty of ways to get the most out of your investment as you build your collection of essentials! Focus on dinnerware sets, flatware, and glasses your family can use regularly. Select serving platters and bowls that may offer decorative appeal to your home.
The entertaining essentials every host needs include:
How Many Dinnerware Sets Do I Need?
While everyone’s entertaining needs vary, we like to offer a few suggestions to help you start your collection. Depending on your entertainment style and how many people you usually host or intend to host, we recommend starting with eight to twelve dinnerware sets. Twelve dinnerware sets are ideal, as it allows for unexpected guests and provides a few additional dinnerware designs you can use as extra serveware, if necessary.
Our Favorite Suggestions for Building Your Dinnerware Sets
As you begin to select your dinnerware set, there are a few things we urge you to consider. First, your designs should show off your personality and style. The dinnerware sets you lay out for your guests should draw them to their seats, making them feel like they were chosen just for them! You can say a lot with your dinnerware sets. So, when you entertain, what feelings do you wish to evoke? What mood do you want to set?
You may wish to start with all matching dinnerware sets. This keeps your look and feel cohesive with options to add a splash of color or patterns through your linens, centerpiece, and other home décor.
You may also choose to divide the quantity of twelve dinnerware sets into two sets of six to maximize your ability to create different looks. Then, each time you entertain, you’ll have the option to layer matching designs, alternate layers, or mix-and-match, creating various dinnerware sets that offer a more eclectic look yet still coordinate.
Favorite Essential Dinner Plates
Selecting your dinner plate first will help you set the tone for your entire collection. We know that most would recommend starting with a classic, like the basic white dinnerware set. While we certainly understand the appeal of choosing a clean, neutral dinnerware set that will match everything, we encourage you to think outside the box!
We want to challenge you to create your own definition of “basic” by incorporating color, patterns, or a fun edge treatment. Add your personality to your core designs! There are no limits when it comes to creating your ideal tablescape, so pull together the dinnerware set that shows off who you are!
Some of our favorite essential dinner plates include:
Signature White Ruffle Dinner Plate
Yes, it’s white, but it’s not your average white dinner plate. Instead, our signature ruffle rim is the perfect added touch to a classic white dinnerware set. Set your table for casual or elegant gatherings with this timeless, versatile style.
Iris Blue Drop Ruffle Dinner Plate
If you’re a fan of color, our Iris Blue Drop offers a mostly white plate with a simple, single-color detail. It makes for a great everyday dish, with limitless options to mix, match, and layer with additional colors and patterns from our line.
Blush Layered Diamond Dinner Plate
We adore the hand-drawn diamond pattern of this light and airy dinner plate, and it’s one of our favorites for entertaining outside. The soft, neutral tone makes it easy to layer with additional dinnerware sets.
Favorite Essential Salad Plates
To match or not to match? This is where you can really show off your creative style. Layer, mix, and match to your heart’s desire and build a dinnerware set that suits your style. We recommend matching your salad plates to your dinner plates for maximum versatility if you're starting with a small dinnerware set.
However, if you took our tip about breaking your initial set of twelve dinner plates into two matching dinnerware sets of six, you’ll now have an array of looks to create! In addition, you can set your table according to theme, event, or mood with various curated looks.
Some of our favorite essential salad plates include:
Serving Platters for Your Dinner Party Needs
Aside from your dishes, a serving platter is the most crucial serving dish you need to have on hand. While you may be thinking you won’t be hosting a dinner party large enough for serving platters just yet, trust us when we say they come in handy for any size gathering! And if you’ll be doing any entertaining outside, you’ll be glad you have those serving platters on hand to save you several trips!
We recommend at least one large and one small serving platter as part of your essential dinner party serveware needs. A functional large serving platter should be around 15 – 20" long to give you plenty of options to use for a lavish main course or meat.
Large serving platters are also ideal for your dinner party appetizer course or side dish.
We suggest investing in a small serving platter, roughly 8 – 11" long. Small serving trays offer so much versatility. They’re wonderful for your appetizers or side dishes and are just the right size to be placed anywhere to accommodate your dinner party guests.
Serving Bowls for Your Dinner Party Needs
Keeping a variety of bowls to suit your serving needs is always a wise idea. We can’t even imagine hosting a dinner party without our serving bowls. They are essential to your appetizers and dishes with sauces, dips, or dishes that can’t be served on serving platters.
We recommend starting with at least one medium-sized serving bowl for maximum functionality. For example, a 9” diameter bowl is ideal for serving salads and all your hearty sides like rice, pasta, or vegetables. You can also line it with a decorative linen and use it for bread, chips, or crackers during your appetizer or meal.
Two to three small-scale serving bowls are a must for sauces, dips, olives, nuts, and more. At around 3-4" in diameter, these smaller bowls are perfect for daily or dinner party use. Keep in mind that your dinnerware bowls can double as serving bowls if necessary, so plan to stock up on smaller bowls when you can.
A handy little tip we’ve learned from our years of entertaining: You can also vary the depth of the bowls to maximize their uses as well!
Serving Utensils for Your Dinner Party Needs
We realize that you could always use flatware to get the job done if it comes down to it. But hosting a dinner party is more than just feeding your guests. It’s the experience you create for them, from the atmosphere down to the proper utensil for every dish you serve.
Plan to start your collection with at least two serving forks and two serving spoons. We recommend having three spreaders and one set of salad servers.
How To Use Your Entertaining Essentials to Master the Art of Entertaining
The best advice we can offer is to start simple and master the basics. Even after years of entertaining and learning from trial and error, we still manage to find new ways to improve.
The dinnerware sets and serveware you choose to start your collection of essentials will become tried and true designs that represent your entertaining style. These core designs will carry you through many wonderful experiences, hosting your family and friends around your dinner table.
The more you entertain and utilize your essentials, the more comfortable you’ll become with hosting dinner parties. First, learn the proper etiquette for setting the table for various occasions. Then explore with your tablescape. Finally, trust your creative vision and design your own layout.
Before you know it, you’ll be ready to expand your collection of entertaining essentials. You’ll feel inspired to add new colors and patterns to your collection and begin to master the art of custom tablescape design. As you mix and match your collections, you’ll create a new experience for your guests each time they gather at your table. They’ll be eager to attend your dinners to catch a glimpse of the fresh look you’ve created for the event!
Our hope is that you’ll love entertaining as much as we do. Just remember, whether you’re hosting a dinner party, small or large, it’s the act of bringing your loved ones together that matters most. So as they gather around your table and enjoy good food, pleasant conversation, and a stunning tablescape, cherish the memories you make together!