Jumping on the social media bandwagon can be exciting. Suddenly you are able to reconnect with your sorority friends, a coworker from your first job or even an old flame - all at the click of a button.
Many of us start to feel like we know people from comments and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, but at the end of the day, face-to-face interaction is much more meaningful and is more likely to encourage lasting friendships, says Veronica Seaman, president of Veo Weddings and Events.
"We definitely get caught up in social media, but it means more to be right up in front of a person. We can sort of guage reactions and have fun together," she says. "Especially for the fall and for the holidays, it adds to what it's all about - hanging out with friends and building memories together. With social media you aren't really plugging those memories in the brain, you are just going through the motions."
Instead of communicating through the Web, consider channeling the Mad Men era this holiday season and utilizing old-school social networking - dinner
Olivia Clark, event coordinator and stylist with L'events, says that out of the myriad options for gatherings, her favorite by far is a sit-down dinner. "Conversation becomes more relaxed as you are passing food around the table. It's something that goes back to the 1950s and having dinner together," describes Clark. "People in my age group don't have time, so I like to force them when I can. Let's go back to that rich history of sitting down for a meal together, relaxing, turning off the phone and opening a bottle of wine. Getting back to the basics is really important, especially around the holiday season."
Six Cool Tips ... for hosting a fabulous holiday dinner party to which even Don Draper would tip his hat.
Keep it classy
Tina Player of TP Events recommends sending out invitations four to six weeks prior to the event, so that guests have plenty of time to plan to attend. Ask for a RSVP from guests and keep the invites classy by sending
them through snail mail as opposed to setting up an event page online or sending it through email. "Be conscious," Player says. "Not everyone is computer savvy. There are a lot of people that enjoy personalized invitations."
Quality, not quantity
Remember not to go too overboard with the number of guests at the event, says Clark. "I'm definitely an advocate for quality more than quantity. You want everyone to kind of feel that they are there for a reason," she says. "Plan for what you already own and what you can utilize in your own space. You don't want to invite 60 people and have to buy new dishware." Keep it manageable for you, but a suitable social environment for the guests. Also remember to invite a group of people that gel. You don't want any drama or forced conversations.
Plan ahead, but don't sweat it
Tidy the house as much as you can before guests arrive, but be sure to set aside a few moments to have a glass of wine, listen to music
and relax. No one cares if you haven't dusted the photo frames in the hallway - but they will care if their host is flitting around the house arranging things instead of interacting.
Go with the tried and true
The day of your dinner party is no time to start experimenting with new
dishes, says Player. Instead, look to your recipe box for trusted dishes that you've made at least once to ensure that they are going to turn out to be as delicious as the picture.
It's all in the details
When it comes to having a memorable get together, seasoned hosts and hostesses know that small details can make a big impression. "Having fun signature cocktails are what really keep your guests talking," says Seaman. "It can also help your bottom line. If you provide a signature drink, you don't have to have a bar." Seaman also suggests getting creative with food signage by writing the name of the dish on a fun piece of paper, tacking it on to a food-safe Christmas ornament and placing it inside the serving platter, rather than using simple white cards. "It's sort of a centerpiece for the dish. It just adds a lot of color and makes it a little fun and different so it's not just food on a plate," she says. "More people are willing to try something if they know what it is. This kind of adds to the party and gives some conversational pieces."
Don't be hasty to end the fun
One of the easiest ways to end a party prematurely is cleaning while the guests are still around. Allow your friends to mingle, relax and enjoy the atmosphere that you've created for them - if they see you washing dishes, it might send a signal that the party is over. When many of the guests have left for the evening, wash most of the dishes, put away the leftovers and pat yourself on the back. The rest of the work can wait until
Drink like a "Mad Man"
More than just your event style can be inspired by the Mad Men era. Greet your guests at the door with one of these 60s-style sips:
2 dashes aromatic bitters
1/2 tsp sugar dissolved
with water and bitters
1½ oz. of bourbon
1 orange slice
1 lemon wedge
Instructions: Fill glass with ice. Add cherry, orange slice and lemon wedge. Pour in bourbon. Serve in a rocks glass over ice.
1½ oz. vodka
¾ oz. lime juice
3-4 lime slices
Instructions: Pour vodka and lime juice into mixing glass. Shake and strain into martini glass. Add 3 to 4 slices of lime.
1¾ oz. bourbon
¾ oz. of sweet vermouth
1 dash of aromatic bitters
1 Maraschino cherry
Instructions: Pour bitters and liquors over ice in mixing glass. Stir and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.