Here are my 9 must-have tips for hosting a special, memorable, and beautiful birthday dinner party for someone you love.

9 Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Birthday Dinner Party

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tablescape for dinner party
tablescape for dinner party

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SARAH PETERSON

I recently hosted a birthday dinner party for my mom's 80th and wanted to share the best tips I gained from going all out for her big celebration!

Not going to lie, it was a little overwhelming to pull off, so I want to save you any stress in planning a birthday dinner party of your own. I also share the things that significantly impacted the dinner party's efficiency, ambiance, and overall success.

This post is all about TIPS FOR HOSTING THE ULTiMATE BIRTHDAY DINNER PARTY

FIND INSPIRATION OR PICK A CREATIVE CONCEPT

Finding inspiration or picking a theme for a birthday dinner party is one of the most important first steps in planning. It sets the tone for the evening and keeps your party from going in 13 different aesthetic directions.

HOW TO PICK A PARTY STYLE

  • Method 1: Find photographic inspiration
  • Method 2: Choose a creative concept or style like "autumn glow" or "Game of Thrones."

I found this photo for my mother's 80th birthday dinner party on Pinterest. It was enough inspiration to give me the specific direction of the style I wanted for her dinner (method #1).


plan THE menu with FAVORITES BUT KEEP iT SIMPLE

Ask your guest of honor what their absolute favorite appetizers, sides, entrees, cocktails, wine, and desserts are. Try to incorporate what they love into the menu, but don't do it at the expense of your sanity.

For example, if their favorite entree means you must tend to the stove for most of the night, find a variation of the entree that is easy to serve and frees you up to enjoy the party.

Easy DINNER party food ideas

  • Hors d'oeuvres like oysters (shuck them 30 minutes before guests arrive), or shrimp cocktail
  • Frozen appetizers like potato skins, mac and cheese bites, mini quiches, toasted bruschetta, or jalapeno poppers (throw them into the oven 15 minutes before guests arrive)
  • Entrees like pasta dishes, baked casseroles, whole roasted chicken/turkey/pork, crockpot concoctions, or fajitas/tacos with a fixings bar
  • Cocktails that you can pre-make in a large batch
  • Desserts that don't need to be warmed to taste good

add GOOD lighting for ambiance

The ambiance of your space is everything! Good lighting makes your guests feel more comfortable and cozy. Also, I firmly believe the more candles you have, the better the party will be. (Check out the 800 candles I had at my intimate wedding tablescape.)

Three easy ways to create better ambiance:

  1. Place candles throughout the party to add that warm glow to your space. Choose scentless candles if any of your guests are scent-sensitive.
  2. Turn off overhead lights. Use lamps instead. (If you can't turn them off, dim them to 50-75%.)
  3. Light (or gas) up your fireplace for the ultimate cozy factor. You might want to open some windows to ensure it doesn't get too hot.

FAVORITE CANDLE IDEAS FOR A DINNER pARTY

  • candle holders with candlesticks add elegance and so much style
  • floating candles in glass hurricanes are so easy (bonus, you can always reuse them!)
  • flameless candles are a great option if you are concerned about fire safety

add FLOWERS, botanicals, OR ANY NATURAL TEXTURE

Decorate the center of your table with flowers, botanicals, or any nature-based items to add dimension, warmth, and texture to the table.

Be sure your centerpieces aren't so tall or overbearing that they block the view of guests sitting across from each other. Instead, keep the decorations low, or alternate in between seats.

If you're in Los Angeles, I recommend going to the DTLA Flower Market for the best fresh-cut and dried flowers. You'll find incredible prices, seasonal options, and endless inspiration.

Otherwise, you'll find much better prices and variety by ordering wholesale fresh flowers or wholesale dried flowers from an online seller instead of your local grocery store or florist. Plan for them to arrive a day or two in advance, so you have time to prep and style them.

Ideas for TABLE DECORATIONS

  • fresh cut flowers
  • dried flowers
  • rose petals
  • green garland
  • succulents
  • whole lemons, oranges, or pineapples
  • fresh herbs or leaves
  • pumpkins and gourds
  • paper or wooden flowers

DRESS YOUR TABLESCAPE TO IMPRESS

A birthday dinner party is the perfect reason to break out your fanciest tablescape details!

Use the nice things you have. First, look on Pinterest for how to combine details in unexpected ways. Then, search for sellers on Etsy who craft handmade items that will add to your table design.

You could also add table details that are conversation starters, for example, personalized name settings or even a printed menu with the guest of honor's name at the top.

FAVORITE ITEMS FOR THE TABLE


ENLIST SOME HELPING HANDS

Don't try to tackle the prep and hosting all yourself. It's a lot for one person to handle!

Ideally, enlist some help before the party with the grocery haul, flower prep, items for the table, making or ordering the cake, and fetching the alcohol.

Before the party, ask one of your guests if they would be willing to be an extra set of hands during the dinner.

Of course, if you don't have any help during the week or party, you might pull it off. But I'm confident you will feel like you got hit by a truck by the end of the dinner, no matter how simple of a party you think you might be hosting!


add a PERSONAL touch

Make the night specifically about celebrating your guest of honor. Adding personal touches throughout the evening will make it a special night they will never forget.

PERSONAL TOUCH PARTY IDEAS


Take LOTS OF photos + video

Don't forget to document the party! Take lots of photos and videos, especially of the guest of honor. Then, follow up within a few days of the party and share all the footage you captured. It's a great way to keep the celebration alive!

Be sure to document the personal touches throughout the party, too, so the guest of honor can share the details of the evening with those who couldn't attend.


DON'T FORGET THE champagne and the cake!

A birthday dinner party is not complete without a multi-layer birthday cake (and lots of candles to make a wish!) and bubbly enough to go around for all to toast to the guest of honor.

Don't want to be stuck with leftover cake to nibble on for the coming weeks? Send each guest home with a slice (or three!). No one is mad at breakfast cake the morning after an awesome party.


ThiS POST WAS ALL ABOUT TIPS TO THROW AN AWESOME BIRTHDAY DINNER PARTY

I hope these tips help you create a fun, memorable, extraordinary birthday dinner party experience for someone you love. XOXO, Sarah


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Hey, I'm Sarah!

Designer, DIYer, & Deep Googler

I've always been infinitely curious on how the things I love are created. Whether it's the recipe of a decadent soap, a beautiful piece of jewelry, or a jaw-drooping, drool-worthy interior... I have an persistent need to figure it out... and do it myself!

Learn more about me

SOLID PERFUME STICKS

LABEL MAKER

"LOVE" ART PRINT

FAUX FUR BLANKET

FLAUNT PHONE CASE

PERFUMIES.COM

amazon

society 6

anthropologie

FLAUNT.COM

Change the way you wear and carry perfume with these perfume sticks that fit in your pocket!

When in doubt, label everything. I'm amazed at how long this little machine's batteries last.

Got this one after my husband popped the question. It's how I feel when I'm with him!

The coziest blanket you'll ever find. So good I gifted them in different colors to my beloved wedding guests!

Currently using this--it's the perfect shade of radiant orchid pink, and I love the square corners!

Fiberclay PLANTER SET

SHEEPSKIN rug

PLANTER (for DIY CANDLE)

IMITATION Pothos

Bisley FILE CABINET

michaels

etsy

amazon

michaels

container store

Scatter a cute planter set from Michael's around your home--it will make your decor feel cohesive.

I throw these everywhere... the floor, my work chair, the couch. They are 100% worth every penny.

I love to turn planters  into large DIY candles. It's my favorite gift to give... Everyone loves a huge multi-wick candle!

Shhh... When I want my plants to cascade more, I add in an extension like this while they grow.

I used two of these sleek Bisley cabinets under this delicious slab of wood to DIY my dream desk.

HANDMADE CERAMICS

MICRON black PENS

Fanny Pack // BELT BAG

SCARF NECKLACE

THRIFTED DESIGNER SCARF

calLahan ceramics

amazon

shopbop

mignonne gavigan

thred up

Sign up for alerts, it's almost impossible to purchase these beauties before they sell out!

These are the only pens that let me write neatly. There's something magical about them! #01 is my fave size.

The fanny pack has officially changed my life for the better. No more big bag shoulder and back pain!

The most beautiful handmade accessories around. (I wore MG "Burst" earrings for my wedding!)

Make money on clothes you no longer wear, and find designer goods (with tags still on!)

Storm Cloud Wall Art

Tillandsia AIRPLANT

FLORAL Macbook case

Distressed Mirror

GLUE GUN

anthropologie

amazon

etsy

anthropologie

amazon

Living in LA's perpetual sunny and 72 degree weather has made me LOVE clouds because I so rarely see them!

The most low maintenance plant on the market. Find a cool planter and plop it in. Mist every 2-3 weeks.

I've cracked too many screens in my lifetime to not protect my devices. Love this feminine floral hard case.

A mirror that looks like a moon? Make it a full moon everyday in your house!

Everyone (and I mean everyone) should go through life with a trusty glue gun by their side.

uline hair detangler

Silicone ALPHABET MOLD

fave white tee

THERMAL LABEL PRINTER

e6000 GLUE

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

The best detangler I've found. I throw the travel size bottle in my gym bag, travel bag, and beach bag.

These ABC molds allow for ample DIYs. Jello, melt and pour soaps, crayons... the fun really will never end!

My favorite white tee. I've bought about 18 of them by now. Best cut v-neck, long in the body, high quality. (Why not get a few.)

Print a lot of labels and tired of buying ink for your printer? Get this thermal printer and never buy an ink cartridge again.

This is the glue that holds my life together. No really... I use it for everything.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

Caudalie BEAUTY elixir

Candle Making Pitcher

singer sewing machine

photography backdrops

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

replica surfaces

100% my most favorite portrait lens. Do yourself a favor and add it to your cart immediately.

I take this face mist with me while traveling and instantly feel more refreshed and awake after a few spritzes!

Never buy a candle again! Use this to DIY your own (they smell better, burn longer, and save money).

This is the sewing machine I used to DIY my wedding dress! Easy to use, I recommend it to any level sewist.

I use these surfaces to shoot styled stock, product, and brand photos that need clean, realistic backgrounds.

PLANTER (for DIY CANDLE)

amazon

I love to turn planters into large DIY candles. It's my favorite gift to give. Everyone loves a huge multi-wick candle!

LABEL MAKER

amazon

When in doubt, label everything. I'm amazed at how long this little machine's batteries last.

"LOVE" ART PRINT

society 6

Got this one after my husband popped the question. It's how I feel when I'm with him!

FAUX FUR BLANKET

anthropologie

The coziest blanket you'll ever find. So good I gifted them in different colors to my beloved wedding guests!

FLAUNT PHONE CASE

FLAUNT.COM

Currently using this--it's the perfect shade of radiant orchid pink, and I love the square corners!

Fiberclay PLANTER SET

michaels

Scatter a cute planter set from Michael's around your home--it will make your decor feel cohesive.

SHEEPSKIN rug

etsy

I throw these everywhere... the floor, my work chair, the couch. They are 100% worth every penny.

IMITATION Pothos

michaels

Shhh... When I want my plants to cascade more, I add in an extension like this while they grow.

Bisley FILE CABINET

container store

I used two of these sleek Bisley cabinets under this delicious slab of wood to DIY my dream desk.

HANDMADE CERAMICS

calLahan ceramics

Sign up for alerts, it's almost impossible to purchase these beauties before they sell out!

MICRON black PENS

amazon

These are the only pens that let me write neatly. There's something magical about them! #01 is my fave size.

SOLID PERFUME STICKS

PERFUMIES.COM

Change the way you wear and carry perfume with these perfume sticks that fit in your pocket!

Fanny Pack // BELT BAG

shopbop

The fanny pack has officially changed my life for the better. No more big bag shoulder and back pain!

SCARF NECKLACE

mignonne gavigan

The most beautiful handmade accessories around. (I wore MG "Burst" earrings for my wedding!)

THRIFTED DESIGNER SCARF

thred up

Make money on clothes you no longer wear, and find designer goods (with tags still on!)

Storm Cloud Wall Art

anthropologie

Living in LA's perpetual sunny and 72 degree weather has made me LOVE clouds because I so rarely see them!

TILLANDSIA AIRPLANT

AMAZON

The most low maintenance plant on the market. Find a cool planter and plop it in. Mist every 2-3 weeks.

FLORAL Macbook case

etsy

I've cracked too many screens in my lifetime to not protect my devices. Love this feminine floral hard case.

Distressed Mirror

anthropologie

A mirror that looks like a moon? Make it a full moon everyday in your house!

GLUE GUN

amazon

Everyone (and I mean everyone) should go through life with a trusty glue gun by their side.

uline hair detangler

amazon

The best detangler I've found. I throw the travel size bottle in my gym bag, travel bag, and beach bag.

Silicone ALPHABET MOLD

amazon

These ABC molds allow for ample DIYs. Jello, melt and pour soaps, crayons... the fun really will never end!

fave white tee

amazon

My favorite white tee. Best cut v-neck, long in the body, high quality. (Why not get a few.)

THERMAL LABEL PRINTER

amazon

Print a lot of labels? Get this thermal printer and never buy an ink cartridge again.

e6000 GLUE

amazon

This is the glue that holds my life together. No really... I use it for everything.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

amazon

100% my most favorite portrait lens. Do yourself a favor and add it to your cart immediately.

Caudalie BEAUTY elixir

amazon

This face mist instantly will make you feel more refreshed and awake after a few spritzes!

Candle Making Pitcher

amazon

Never buy a candle again! Use this to DIY your own (they smell better, burn longer, and save money).

singer sewing machine

amazon

This is the sewing machine I used to DIY my wedding dress! Easy to use, I recommend it to any level sewist.

photography backdrops

replica surfaces

I use these surfaces to shoot styled stock, product, and brand photos that need clean, realistic backgrounds.