The Daredevil Guide to Hosting a Dinner Party

10 ways to add a provocative element to your next meal By Lauren Sheffield.

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You only need three key things for a great dinner party: delectable food, flowing drinks, and stellar friends. But how do you add a little je ne sais quoi to your next soirée? From adding an unexpected twist to a cocktail, to trying new things with food (a bump of caviar?) there are plenty of ways you can hit a daring note at dinnertime.

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Image: Getty

1. Elevated Oysters

Take things up a notch with your oyster hors d’oeuvres and offer an unexpected approach to the condiment selection. “Instead of the expected lemon wedges, hot sauce or mignonette sauce, I find it far more fun to surprise my guests with little unmarked jars of various whiskies and gins, each with their own eyedropper, and have them experiment by adding a few drops of spirits to their oysters for a totally new twist,” says Allison Patel, founder of Brenne French Single Malt Whiskey. “My personal favorites are salty, Islay whiskies (like Bruichladdich, Ardbeg or Laphroaig) with East Coast oysters and more fruit and caramel-forward whiskies (like Balvenie, Brenne or Redbreast) with West Coast oysters.

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2. Bold Beauty

Try a daring beauty look the next time you head out for dinner, whether it be a bold lip, glitter shadow or an intricate updo. It’s a simple way to add a dashing effect to your night out on the town.

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

3. Set the Scene

Play up your surroundings by choosing an unpredictable place to hold your dinner party. Think a nighttime picnic or a seaside affair. Chef Francis Mallmann, who is known for bringing his cuisine into unconventional places, advises to go out and leave the normal behind. “It’s all about being made to feel with your surroundings and bringing about different visuals and colors. Allow the romance of your setting to overtake you.”

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4. Serve It Up

When it comes to serving up your food, err towards the exotic, like pairing a modern take on champagne flutes with sultry dinnerware. Eating and drinking out of abnormal dishes will make the evening feel that much more interesting.

Odyssͩe dinner plate, $556, jungleeny.com; Genus champagne flutes (set of 2), $40, touchofmodern.com

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5. Juxtaposed Presentation

Take another tip from Chef Mallmann, and juxtapose your food with the plating. He is known for cooking wondrous charred meats and vegetables on spits splayed across expanses of land. But how does he choose to serve them? In refined settings, on delicate plates and all-white table settings: “It’s not just about the food, it’s about all the elements of a dinner party. Do the unexpected.”

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6. Floral Affair

Take your floral arrangements to the next level by adding uncommon touches, like pairing together avant garde colors or textures. “For a fresh alternative to normal greenery, add bay leaves or rosemary for an herbaceous fragrance that is sure to complement any meal.” says Callie Bladow, Production Director for BloomThat. “Have a flair for the dramatic? Add kumquats or pomegranates for a kick of color and structure.”

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7. Sky High Style

Take a note from Kendall Jenner and don a sleek dinner look with bold accoutrements. A slipdress thrown over a white T-shirt brings a playful touch to your nighttime look, and paired with a sparkly choker and thigh-high suede boots, you’ll be the talk of the town (or table).

Lanvin choker, $855, matchesfashion.com; Aquazzura boots, $725, matchesfashion.com

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