Hosting a dinner party can be difficult. Not only do you have to ensure all of the preparations are in order – whether you're cooking yourself or you’ve hired a catering service – but you've also got to provide a tidy, decorated space, entertainment, and the right atmosphere.
Often overlooked, but essential to cultivating the necessary ambiance for any successful dinner party, is providing the lighting to set the proper mood. Lighting can change the entire feel of a space, so it's important that you choose wisely.
Avoid Fluorescent Lighting
A common mistake that hosts and hostesses make is assuming their everyday lighting is suitable for a party. Oftentimes this is not the case, as homes (and especially kitchens) employ fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is very in-your-face and can make the room feel overwhelming, or even unwelcoming to your guests. Naturally, this is not the atmosphere you are looking to cultivate when throwing a party.
Instead, consider warmer, dimmer lights that wash the room in a satisfying glow without blinding your guests. You want your lighting to be soft, while the room should remain well-lit.
Employ Dimmer Switches
A great way to achieve that middle ground between well-lit and soft lighting is by employing dimmer switches, which grant you a greater latitude of control as to just how bright your dining room would be. If you don't have any dimmer switches installed, consider putting some in place before you throw your dinner party.
Not only do dimmer switches create versatile lighting that can be altered throughout the meal as the mood deems necessary, but they also accommodate guests with different light sensitivities. In the event one of your guests is sensitive to light or suffers from poor vision, you can raise the brightness a bit without overwhelming the others.
Don't Forget About Other Rooms
The dining room is not the only place your guests will be. Many will require the use of the bathroom, offer to help in the kitchen, or expect another room to retire to after the meal. These areas should all be prepared accordingly with suitable lighting.
For pathways and thoroughfares, bright lighting is a must. These areas must be easily navigable for all guests, especially those unfamiliar with your home.
For an after-meal lounge, be it a living room or finished basement, you'll want something a bit brighter, but again in pursuit of a softer, yellow glow instead of a piercing white.
Add Candles To Complete The Ambience
Lighting isn't just about electricity, either. Candles can add a great deal of natural warmth to your home, while also boosting the overall brightness. It goes without saying that there should be candlesticks on the dining room table to add elements of immediate lighting as well as class.
Strategically placing candles around your home to highlight certain pieces of art or furniture can also have a nice effect. Spotlight and accentuate these features of your home so that they stick out in guests memories when recalling the details.
Consider Any Outdoor Areas
In warmer climates, guests will often retire outdoors for at least part of the evening. It's important to plan your lighting in these areas as well. Employing landscape lighting not only adds to the brightness of these areas (which is absolutely essential at night) but also their character.
Pathway and garden lighting can help illuminate the ground, highlighting shrubbery and flower beds to your guests. String lighting is useful overhead and creates a festive atmosphere of reveling under the stars.
The lighting you choose really can go a long way to improving the overall atmosphere of your dinner party, and your guests will appreciate the extra effort. Providing a calm, welcoming environment can really make your gathering even more pleasant and serve to kick off a truly enjoyable evening.