You’re past paper plates and plastic forks. By this point you’ve been cooking (and eating) long enough to know that the platters, bowls, and utensils used to serve a meal are (almost) as important as the food itself—and even more so when you’re having people over. The real-real? You need to invest in some gear if you want to up your dinner party game.
But you don’t need to have a ton of stuff! Or even expensive stuff! You can get by with a pretty lean list of dinner party essentials. Oh, you’re curious as to what might be on that list? Yeah, we’ll share. Here’s everything you need to throw the raddest dinner party your friends have ever been to:
A Salad Bowl
Yeah, you know about vegetables. Your friends know about vegetables. So you’re definitely going to serve a salad at your dinner party. Salads are easy! And a great way to get some brightness and color on the table. The salad bowl you’re serving out of should be big. You want enough room to dress the salad in the bowl before you serve it. We like a wooden bowl with a finish, which protects that beautiful wood grain from your acidic (but delicious) dressing.
Buy It Here: Providence Wooden Salad Bowl, $49 from Williams Sonoma.
Whether you spent twenty minutes or three hours on your main course, you want it to look good. Which means you want it on a platter. The world is full of platters, but we gravitate towards a simple white platter with enough of a lipped edge to contain the tasty sauces hanging out under whatever you’re serving for dinner.
Buy It Here: Black Clay Round Platter, $18 from CB2.
A Deep Shallow Pasta Bowl
And for the stuff that a platter can’t handle, there’s the serving bowl. We’re mostly talking about pasta here. People love pasta. And we like pleasing people, so you’ll catch us serving pasta at a dinner party pretty frequently, especially something with a simple sauce that comes together quickly.
Buy It Here: White Serving Bowl, $14 from CB2.
Serving spoons separate the children from the adults. Sure, you could just use the fork that was placed at your seat, but having a spoon that’s big enough to serve chicken thighs and scoop up the juices below will make everyone significantly happier. Plus, your friend is getting over a cold, so let’s keep our germs to ourselves, shall we?
Buy It Here: Stainless Steel 3pc. Serving Set, $8 from Target.
Remember when you put that big wooden bowl of salad on the table? Yeah, you need some serving utensils for that nutritious masterpiece, and a normal-sized fork and spoon from the depths of your cutlery drawer won’t do. Grab a pair of salad tongs to pick up those leafy greens.
Buy It Here: Olivewood 2-Piece Salad Serving Set, $24 from Crate and Barrel.
Dip Bowls (parm, pesto, dips, etc.)
If you’re not dipping something into something else, you’re probably not at a dinner party. Dip bowls hold the dinner party snack hour essential: Dips. Duh. But they’re also good for accompanying sauces and toppings like pesto, chile oil, or grated Parmesan cheese.
Buy It Here: 4 Open Kitchen Dip Bowls, $12 from Williams Sonoma.
Candle holders should really be called vibe holders. That’s what they do. They hold the vibes, especially when dinner is coming to a close and the after-dinner drinks are being poured. Whether you’re going for a short tea or votive candle or a tall tapered candle, having a set of matching holders makes the vibes glow even stronger.
Buy It Here: Bronn Taper Candle Holder, $6 from CB2.
Room temperature beverages are tough to sell. Cold ones? Those fly off the shelves, which is why you need an ice bucket. Whether you’re working with a 30-rack of Budweiser or some naturally sparkling wine (or both!), you want a tub with some serious volume. And please, don’t empty all the ice in and then add the drinks. Fill the tub with drinks, give them space to breathe, and then empty the ice on top, so it fills in all the cracks.
Buy It Here: Hammered Metal Beverage Tub, $24 from Target.
Hydration is key. For health. For life in general. But also for dinner parties. You don’t want people running to the kitchen every time they’re feeling thirsty. Keeping a pitcher of water on the table for easy access is the professional move. A simple glass pitcher is best. If anyone needs ice, they know where the ice bucket is.
Buy It Here: Trap Water Pitcher, $14 from CB2.
Cloth Napkins/Dish Towels
You don’t have to spring for the ultra-fancy, hand-dyed linen napkins, but you definitely shouldn’t be putting a paper towel next to the plates on your table. Cloth napkins that can double as dish towels? Yeah, that sounds about our speed. Picking up a bunch of multipurpose pieces of cloth on the cheap makes dinner more impressive and cleaning up a hell of a lot easier.
Buy It Here: 30 White Kitchen Towels, $28 from Amazon.
Want more kitchen upgrades? These cost less than 25 bucks:
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