We like to say there’s always a reason- and season- to celebrate!

Celebrations take many forms, but one of the most popular parties to throw is the classic dinner party! This event can seem daunting if you’ve never thrown one before or don’t think you have the proper party essentials, so we’re breaking down everything you need to do in order to throw the ultimate dinner party.

1) Set your guest list!

Be realistic in how many people you can comfortably fit in your home and the formality of the event. If you’re having a sit-down dinner to celebrate a friend’s promotion, cap the list at how many you can seat around your table! If you’re throwing a low key neighborhood potluck, add some floor cushions and extend the invites!

2) Decide on a budget

Identifying how much you have to spend on the event early on in the planning process is crucial! Your budget will dictate what you serve and how you decorate! (But don’t worry- we’ve got tips for amazing ideas for any budget!)

3) Set your menu (make smart choices!)

Now that you know how many people you’re serving and what you can spend, decide on your meal plan! Don’t get caught up in making four intensely detailed courses, or you won’t have any time to have fun during the party! Find a dessert you can make the night before, get a friend to bring a side, buy appetizers and focus on your main dish so you don’t go crazy!

4) Use the left over money to have fun with décor!

Not all dinner parties require pulling out the good china! Don’t be afraid to use paper plates and napkins for an easy & efficient clean up!

5) Say yes to help!

It’s always okay to say yes if someone asks if they can bring something! If you’re feeding 8 people and someone wants to bring wine or a side dish, let them!

6) Plan in advance, so day of, you can have fun!

Don’t wait until the day of the party to start cleaning your pad! Make small steps all week long towards being prepared, so by the time the big day rolls around, all you need to do is cook your dish. A good strategy is grocery shopping 3-4 days before, cleaning 3 days before, decorating and setting the table 2 days before, cooking and prepping the day before and then last minute touches the day of!

Some of our favorite tips and suggestions:

• Don’t make everything yourself! Buying appetizers from Trader Joes is never a bad plan! On a budget? You can make your own cheese and charcuterie board for under $20! (We’ve done it.)

• Upgrade the typical paper plate with stylish patterns! Not only do pops of color add a touch of whimsy, but cleanup is a breeze!

• For an extra special touch add festive personalized paper placemats that are super on-theme!

• Don’t want to play bartender all night? Create a themed punch or sangria so all guests drink the same thing and you don’t need to buy a bunch of different beverages for a group.

• Flowers are the best decoration. On a budget? Check out if your city has a flower district or find out where the florists get their buds. (The Los Angles flower district has STUNNING blooms at incredibly affordable prices!) If you don’t have access, buy multiple blooms from your local Trader Joes and distribute into smaller arrangements in mason jars or other low vases. Spread the arrangements out for pops of color around the party space.

• Make a playlist and have it ready well ahead of party-time. Set up your speakers (or put your phone in a glass cup!) and let the tunes play!

• Buying extra ice is never a bad thing! (or, if someone wants to bring something, but you’re all set on anything else, delegate it to them!)

Above all else, plan ahead so you can have fun the day and don’t be afraid to be flexible and have a sense of humor about the whole thing! Your chocolate soufflé doesn’t rise the day of? It’s a good thing everyone loves an old fashioned ice cream sundae bar!