How to Throw a Dinner Party Like a Real Adult

When you’re in your early 20s, your idea of a dinner party typically involves something like ordering pizza and inviting your girlfriends over for The Bachelor—and there’s nothing wrong with that! But as you move into your late 20s and 30s, you realize there’s almost no greater pleasure in life than hosting a truly grownup, elevated dinner party. At this next stage in life, most of your friends are busy with full-fledged careers, and perhaps they are starting families or becoming puppy parents too. It’s harder than it used to be to get everyone together in one place, but nothing does the trick like an invitation to an elegant yet comfortable dinner party with a multi-course menu. With that in mind, today we are sharing a beautiful dinner party designed by Tasteful Tatters and photographed by Anna Delores Photography. Oh, and did we mention there’s a full menu of recipes from chef Marlene Bernstein?

Scroll though to see the gorgeous photos and delicious recipes, plus a few expert tips for throwing a dinner party in your 30s…

Three Grownup Dinner Party Tips

  1. Bring a host/hostess gift. This isn’t your BYOB party right out of college. A lot of planning and effort went into this dinner, so show some appreciation by bringing an indoor fern for the green thumb, an incredible bottle of wine for the wine connoisseur in your life, or some artisan bitters for the friend who loves crafting new cocktails.
  2. Serve the meal in courses, not family style. A coursed out menu gives an air of elegance. Conversation also flows better when you aren’t constantly having to ask someone to pass the salad.
  3. Make a seating chart. There’s nothing officially wrong with the free-for-all seating plan. But taking this extra step and strategically placing certain guests next to each other can help conversation flow in the most optimal way possible and even spark a lifelong friendship between two people you know will get along.

Vanilla Bean Lavender Whiskey

Serves 1

Vanilla Bean Lavender Whiskey


  • 4 oz. pour (or 2 shots) whiskey (we used Johnnie Walker Red Label)
  • 4 Tbsp. simple syrup (see recipe for homemade simple syrup below)
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice, fresh squeezed
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • orange rind

Vanilla Bean Lavender Whiskey


  1. Mix together the whiskey, orange juice, simple syrup and cinnamon.
  2. Serve over ice, and garnish with orange rind.

Lavender and Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ of 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of lavender

Combine the sugar, water, vanilla bean and lavender in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Brown Buttered Scallops with Shishito Tomatillo Salsa

Serves 6

Brown Buttered Scallops with Shishito Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients:

  • 2 large tomatillos
  • ½ cup roasted shishito peppers
  • ½ onion, medium chop
  • ¾ cup cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 pinches of salt

Scallops Ingredients:

  • 6 large scallops
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt, as needed

Brown Buttered Scallops with Shishito Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Remove the husk of the tomatillos.
  2. Place the tomatillos and shishito peppers on a baking sheet underneath the broiler and cook until the skin looks slightly charred.
  3. Cool down, then place in the blender with cilantro, jalapeno, onion, garlic, water and salt. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.

Seared Scallops Instructions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in pan. Stir the oil butter mixture over medium high heat until it begins to turn golden brown.
  2. Pat scallops dry, season with salt, and add to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove from heat and plate over the tomatillo salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro or chives. Serve immediately.

Blood Orange, Treviso and Goat Cheese Salad

Serves 6

Blood Orange, Treviso and Goat Cheese Salad


  • 6 blood oranges
  • 4 heads treviso
  • 6 Tbsp. goat cheese
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil

Blood Orange, Treviso and Goat Cheese Salad


  1. Tear the Treviso from the stem, layering the leaves into each bowl.
  2. Segment the oranges, using one per bowl.
  3. Using a fork, crumble one tablespoon of goat cheese on to each salad.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Acai Dessert Bowl

Acai Dessert Bowl

Base Ingredients:

  • 1 packet acai powder (100 grams)
  • 1 bag frozen mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp. raw honey or agave
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 young coconut, scoop out the meat and the water

Suggested Toppings:

  • strawberries, sliced
  • blueberries
  • kiwi, sliced
  • banana, sliced
  • hemp seeds
  • dark chocolate chunks

Acai Dessert Bowl


  1. Combine the acai packet, frozen fruit, honey or agave, coconut water and meat, and vanilla extract in the blender. Pulse until smooth. It should have a slightly thicker consistency than your traditional smoothie.
  2. Spoon acai mixture into a bowl and decorate with toppings. We added strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, banana, dark chocolate and hemp seeds to ours, but feel free to use your favorite ingredients.

How to throw an adult dinner party by

A gorgeous dinner set up for a girls night in

How to throw a dinner party like an adult {we'll cheers to that}

How delicious does all of the food look?

Have you ever thrown a dinner party all on your own?

Share your own tips and favorite recipes in the comments below.

XO Team LC

Photos: Anna Delores Photography, Recipes: Chef Marlene Bernstein, Design: Tasteful Tatters, Table: Circa Vintage Rentals
  • manuela

    Lauren I love organize dinner party! I like cooking and make delicious cocktails!!!!!
    these recipes are soo yummy!
    thanks for this post!
    xoxo M.

  • Kari Guastella

    I love serving in courses! I find it easier to manage the food and that way it draws out the dinner, but I often get teased for doing it because its feels a little over the top.

  • All of these dishes and especially the drink sound amazing! I’m thinking a dinner party is in need!

    Michelle ||

  • Nikki

    I don’t think this is right: “Combine the acai packet, frozen fruit, honey or agave, coconut water and meat, and vanilla extract in the blender.” Pretty sure there shouldn’t be meat in the dessert!

    • LaurenConradOnline

      Sorry for the confusion Nikki, the inside of the coconut is called the meat of the coconut! So we didn’t mean actual meat! 🙂


  • Christa Harlin

    Just threw my first dinner party for 12 this weekend for my 28th bday party. My tips: have a helper! My sister helped me cut things up and my boyfriend helped me serve the courses. 2. Use fancy disposal plates and “silver ware” Tuesday morning/ dollar stores have pretty disposable dinner party ware.3. Suggest people bring wine. 4. Serve something bubbly with appetizers while waiting for people to arrive. 5. Have a cool pandora station. I like Hotel Costes. I served bacon wraped dates stuffed with goat cheese with sparkling moscato. Watermelon feta salad. Mango chicken curry (Author shauna niequist recipe) and for dessert I made Pots de creme Ice cream (ie frozen pots de creme… which I made up out of necessity…thickening issues. lol). Last suggestion; don’t make things youve never made before as the main dish!!! So much work but totally worth it

    • LaurenConradOnline

      Wow Christa! These are all such great tips! Thank you so much for sharing these with us {and happy belated birthday!}. xo

  • Can’t wait for summer to throw one proper dinner party now! I’ve always wanted to try make scallops!

    • Ellie

      Two tips for scallops: 1. make sure you pat them nice and dry and 2. get that pan screaming hot for the perfect sear 🙂

  • Emilee Sutherland

    Thanks so much for allowing us to be apart of this feature! It was so much fun putting together 🙂 Hoping to inspire dinner parties all around this summer! – Emilee of Tasteful Tatters

  • morgan

    Can we have a dinner party please?????

  • Millerette

    Dear someone, where can I get this amazing cutlery?!

    • Emilee of Tasteful Tatters

      Everything on the table is from West Elm 🙂

  • I love dinner parties, and I’ve always wanted to host one myself <3 Thank you so much for these great tips, especially the recipes 🙂

    XO, Elizabeth

  • Siglinde

    … so what’s the actual dinner? Am I feeding my guests one scallop and four leaves of lettuce at a dinner party? Really?

  • Great post – the cocktail and scallops both sound delicious!

    Your second tip about serving in courses is a great one. I recently read that even in France – what some might consider the paragon of cuisine – they served buffet style until almost the 20th century (known as “Service a la Francaise”).

  • Ellie

    Hmmm some of my dinner party tips:
    1. Have people bring the wine. I always have a couple of bottles to start, but not only does this save a significant expense, but if you travel home from the grocery store on public transit, you won’t have to carry the bottles!
    2. Don’t try new recipes on your guests…or at least not more than one.
    3. Prep ahead! Even if you don’t fully make everything the day of, do the peeling, chopping etc in advance.
    4. Definitely mix up the guest list and throw in some new people!
    5. Have fun!

  • I’m hosting a mothers day lunch/dinner I think these tips could come in handy 🙂

  • Henry000

    Awesome. I also wanna have a dinner party with my friends. Please remember to send vivid dinner party invitation card to impress your guests.

  • These days it’s really important to know your guests’ dietary restrictions before they arrive at your house. It’s also good to know which foods your friends don’t like so you don’t serve them something they won’t eat. An easy way to collect this information is to use

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  • Terry

    I loved this so much. All of the recipes looked so delicious and classy. Perfect for a dinner party. Just another idea, is having a kind of candy buffet. You can decorate it how you want, I think it adds a super cute item to your party, and candy is always a crowd pleaser. I have created a tutorial for making your own if you wanna check it out: