Dinner parties are a fun, easy way to get together with your friends in a memorable way. Whether in a cozy dining room on a wintry evening, or al fresco for summer, a dinner party can get a new twist when you throw books into the mix. Hosting a literary dinner party allows you to express your creativity in the kitchen, and guarantees fun conversation among your guests.
It’s easy to throw a literary dinner party:
- Pick a book. This will create the “theme” of your party.
- Create a menu.
- Create a dinner setting.
Those are the basics, but here are some other ideas to consider!
Invite Your Guests
For a literary dinner party, you need to keep the guest list to a minimum, and 4-8 people are ideal. Pick up the phone and call your guests, or if the theme is a little more extravagant (i.e. If you’re discussing The Great Gatsby) some print invitations in the mail will add a special touch. Let them know the “theme” (the book) of the party.
Have Guests Bring a Copy of the Book
Whether it’s a library copy, a used book or a first edition, your guests should bring a copy of the book you selected as the dinner party theme. Ask them to select their favorite passage to read aloud after dinner, or as an icebreaker during cocktail hour. They can dress up as characters, bring props, or act out scenes. Have fun and be creative!
Set the Scene For Your Dinner Party
Does the book take place on a tropical island? Line the driveway with tiki torches or include some bananas and coconuts as part of a table centerpiece. Is your selection a noir book? Use black and white plates, napkins, candles, and dramatic place setting cards. Use lighting, table decor, and background music in the entranceways and the kitchen to reflect the book and the menu.
Send Them Home With a Gift
A unique dinner party favor will end the evening on a pleasant note. Send your guests home with a nice bookmark or bookplate.
Create the Menu
This is the most challenging and most exciting part: creating a menu based upon the book you selected. Remember, you always have cookbooks at your fingertips. Browse, mark, and combine different food pairings to capture the themes or settings of the book in real life!
I’ve included some custom sample menus below:
| William Golding: Lord of the Flies
| Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita
| Henry James: Portrait of a Lady
|Marcel Proust: Swann’s Way