Dinner parties only ever transpire at extremes. When they're bad, they're painful. Few things rival that kind of awkwardness and palpable social discomfort, plus you can only excuse yourself for the bathroom or to "take a call" so many times before you're making it even weirder for yourself. There's also this very exquisite endless quality to them that feels as if time is actually going backwards. And when dinner parties are good, they're absolutely splendid and you leave wondering why there aren't more of them. But it's a very delicate balance of factors that make a successful dinner party.
1. Location, Location, Location
Probably the most obvious but crucial elements to a good dinner party, and life, really, is the setting. Unless it's a private residence, the place should be somewhere people would actually want to go to even if there was no dinner party. Bar Marmont was ideal for its association with the Chateau which everyone knows as one of L.A.'s best haunts. I personally have only ever had phenomenal times at Chateau and I'm sure Hunter S. Thompson, the members of Led Zeppelin, Lindsay Lohan, Anthony Kiedis and Paz de la Huerta would say the same.
2. Make It Exclusive
A separate room to host the dinner is key to making the night feel special and distinguishes the party from the masses. A sign on the door to dinner signifying this also helps and makes your guests feel cool when walking through it.
3. Shots Upon Entry
Okay, calm down, we don't mean shots in the spring break Cancun sense. You need to keep things civilized, so think less LMFAO and more Don Draper. Having a server posted at the entrance with a tray of specialty shooters like Monday night's Key Lime concoctions (thanks, Dot Au Vodka) for guests to take immediately lets them know this is meant to be a fun, light evening. Besides, getting some alcohol in people's systems before they've been fed is always helpful is loosening up the crowd, just as long as you limit it and don't wait too long before dinner is served. Otherwise you start treading in college freshman-like waters and it can become tragic quickly.
4. Open Bar
Duh. Also, for those who may have declined the shot when they came in, this is a less aggressive approach to get them their pre-meal buzz and mingling. See #3 for how much you should let everyone drink before dinner is served.
5. Food For Sharing
Serving food meant to be shared amongst the table is a very good tactic to socializing your crowd. It's an ice breaker, a great prompt for people to interact with their neighbors and get them talking, as long as your guests are pretty. Also, only a psycho would say no to these fries.
6. Your Guest List
This is pretty much the determining factor of how a dinner party is going to go over. Who is (and isn't!!!) there will make all the difference to the night. There's a science to figuring which people to invite, and striking the right balance. Although it might seem like a good idea and the easiest way to have a group of attendees that mesh well, be careful not to fall into inviting too much of one particular crowd/scene. Part of the fun of dinner parties is getting to meet people you otherwise wouldn't and engage with folks from other walks of life and social sects. That means your guest list should include: