6 Tips + Ideas to Host an Elegant Virtual Dinner Party
Zoom calls and virtual hangouts are officially the meme of 2020. Normally this is the place for people who forget to mute themselves, school kids and lectures, friendly hangouts, work meetings, and an older generation venturing into the virtual world for the first time.
And when you think of elegance and class, let’s just say a 40-minute low-bandwidth video conference is NOT the first thing that comes to mind.
So how are you to host a fancy, formal dinner party, an affair to remember, remotely? Things are pivoting for a while, and you’ve accepted that. But do you have to sacrifice high-class and luxury during these times?
This post is for the people who are ready to go all out to host and entertain.
You won’t get as much out of it if you’re just looking to have a casual meal with friends. That said, you can still draw ideas from these suggestions.So without further ado, here are some tips and ideas to host a sophisticated virtual dinner party!
Upgrade Your Technology
Chances are, if you’re reading a post like this, you’ve been a hostess on more than one occasion. Virtual events are going to be a regular thing moving forward, so it might be worth the investment to upgrade the technology you’re using to host.
Now, you don’t have to go all out, but if you plan on entertaining virtually often, consider upgrading at least your webcam and microphone. As the hostess, the attention is on you. Poor sound and video quality can distract your guests from fully enjoying your dinner party. In addition, think about getting a premium plan from your video conferencing platform to allow more attendees and longer meeting durations.
Put Together Custom Guest Packages
It’s time to take the glamour up a notch. Make your invitees feel specially chosen by sending out custom guest packages.
You can spruce these up as much as little as you like, depending on the level of luxury you’re going for.
The first thing you’ll need is invitations. Elegant, paper invitations are a nice touch, and having a tangible memento from your party is extra special in our digitally-dominant culture. Check out these printable invitations from our Plum Polka Dot shop, and pair them with a handwritten note for your guests! You can send these invitations with your packages if you’d like, but you can also send them ahead of time if you’re not sure about attendance.
Include dates, times, and what your guests can expect. What’s the dress code? What is planned for the evening? What needs to be prepared beforehand for things to run smoothly?
This might seem excessive compared to a typical Zoom meeting. But remember, you are hosting a special occasion first and foremost! Create the same expectations and atmosphere as an in-person event instead of a casual call.
Since a hostess normally provides everything for the guests, these packages help to continue that tradition for a virtual dinner party. You can purchase sets of dinnerware, utensils, wine glasses, and then separate them into individual packages for each guest. You can go with some disposable sets for one time use, or you can turn these into gifts for each guest by buying real tableware sets. Plus, your guests will be prepared for the next time you host.
Also, try delivering fresh flowers or candles as centerpieces. Remember, your guests can’t enjoy the setup and tablescape you would usually create for them, so include everything they need to arrange one themselves.
Finally, light snack boxes can be included in the package as well, serving as appetizers before the full meal.
Play Some Music
Live background music is a classic way to enhance the ambiance. But for a virtual occasion, you’ll have to make some adjustments. Instead, curate an instrumental playlist beforehand using Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora.
But what genre should you play? There’s jazz, classical music, blues - how will you choose? Don’t worry. If you’re having trouble selecting the perfect music for your dinner party, you can’t go wrong searching for venue-based playlists on Spotify or Youtube. Try typing in “dinner party,” “wine-tasting,” or “cocktail party,” and don’t be afraid to add in more specific keywords. With such a wide variety out there, you’ll still have tons of options even when you niche down. For example, there’s a cocktail and dinner party playlist on Youtube using 40s instrumental jazz music!
Tip: To prevent audio feedback, stream music from the same device you're hosting from. Then configure your Zoom settings to allow microphone input and music at the same time. (You can learn more about playing music on a Zoom call here.) Viola! Your guests can enjoy lovely music throughout the evening!
Attend a Live Cooking Class
Get all your attendees involved by booking a live virtual cooking class! Learn to prepare a delicious high-end dish together. Private chefs are using this time to take advantage of the digital space, so look for online sessions. Visit restaurant/catering websites or platforms like Airbnb Online Experiences to find opportunities.
Next, plan any necessary arrangements for everyone to get the required ingredients. If grocery stores have limited availability in your area, order from specialty markets online. Remember to factor in time for shipping and delivery if you go this route.
Use Books as a Conversation Starter
Select a book for everyone to read beforehand, then use it as a conversation starter during dinner. A lively discussion can kill any awkward silence and spark conversations about other topics. Unlike a formal book club, you don’t have to keep talking about the book the whole time. This suggestion is to get your guests socializing and make everyone feel included.
Have a Virtual Wine-Tasting
Yes, it’s totally possible to enjoy wine tasting with friends and loved ones over Zoom! Like private chefs, wineries and vineyards are pivoting to offer virtual wine-tasting sessions. They will deliver special wines directly to your door, and many have multiple-location shipping options for each of your guests’ homes.
For the highest elegance, send your invitees this little luxury: wine charms. While there’s no risk of mixing up drinks, our Swarovski crystal wine charms make beautiful keepsakes and are a nice physical touchpoint to add to the digital event. Sending them out after is such a classy way to say “thank you for attending!” You can find Plum Polka Dot’s selection of wine charms here by visiting our shop.
Don’t forget to include these printable thank-you cards as a well-mannered gesture!
See, you can totally pull this off!
Virtual gatherings might be our new normal, but it doesn’t mean your dinner party can’t feel special. And with these tips, you’ll host an unforgettable evening!