Last Updated: November 2021

Dinner Party Ideas And Tips For Success

Interviewing Melanie Masarin


Melanie Masarin is the founder of Ghia, a spirits-free apéritif created for drinkers and non-drinkers. Earlier this year, Ghia launched Le Spritz cans to make enjoying Ghia on the go easier than ever. We spoke with her about planning the perfect dinner evening to delight and impress.

How can a host elevate the drink selection?

I think no matter what you’re drinking, amazing glassware and a really fun garnish like fresh flowers or dried fruit wheels always make a drink feel more elevated. 

Favorite dish to cook for a dinner party?

“My all-time favorite thing to cook, though, is pasta. It’s so therapeutic for me, and there is something about serving a dish of pasta rolled one by one that truly says ‘you are welcome here.’”


Key ingredients for dinner party success:

“The people! It’s always, always about the people. Everything else, the music, the food, the deco,  is just a catalyst for ambiance. My goal is always to create an environment where people can connect.”

Any Ghia-specific hacks you want to share?

“I’m definitely a purist, so one of my favorite recipes is the Ghia Soda. It’s 2oz Ghia topped with 2oz of sparkling water and garnished with rosemary from my garden and a twist of lime or lemon. It’s so simple and I love that the drinker can make this recipe their own by using different herbs or their favorite sparkling drink.


Melanie’s Hosting Tips:

Focus on prioritizing dishes you make ahead of time so you can also enjoy your guests. When I started hosting, I’d get really stressed about the food, but what’s most important is that everyone feels welcome and relaxed and no one sets the tone better than the hostess.

Interviewing Caitlin Villarreal

Dinner-Party-Caitlin-VillarrealCaitlin Villarreal is the VP of Marketing at Social Studies, a design & hospitality company that brings a party in a box. Social Studies rentable kits include everything you need to set a flawless (read: Instagram-worthy) table. All you have to do is enter your party date, guest count, and shipping address, and the kits are delivered the day before the event and picked up the day after. 

When creating a tablescape where can people get inspiration from?

At Social Studies, we research and soak in inspiration from the world. We look at what’s going on right now in fashion, design, architecture, food, anything in the zeitgeist really. It’s about mixing high and low, which we think ultimately results in a more eclectic feel. Currently, our best sellers are The Doppio, Essentials White, and True Blue, which are all rentable kits.

Any cool serving ware brands that you recommend?

If you’re looking for cookware that doubles as serve ware, you can’t go wrong with Caraway

Caraway cookware set blue

Caraway Cookware Set


How do you plan for a dinner party?

Start with the mood and aesthetic: low-key and simple, high-energy and maximalist, or in between? 

Then, pick a Social Studies look that fits your party vibe and make sure you check out the corresponding playlist on our Spotify channel. That’s 80% of the planning process, right there!

Favorite dish to cook for a dinner party?

I love nothing more than hosting a dinner party for friends but I’m absolutely not a cook. An easy fix for those who lack chef skills is a grazing board followed by hearty frozen snacks like pigs in a blanket (yes, frozen is ok). If we’re getting fancy, I’ll pre-order from one of my favorite NYC restaurants through Goldbelly or place a spontaneous Caviar order if I’m short on time. .


Caitlin’s Key Ingredients for Dinner Party Success

The perfect mix of the little things that jive together to create those magical moments people remember, forever…First, your guest list is everything. A surprising, maybe even unusual, mix of people is a great place to start. Next is lighting, music, and of course, a stress-free host that uses Social Studies. That’s the real trick to a fabulous evening…

Caitlin’s Hosting Tips:

A great host is a relaxed, warm and welcoming host. We recommend hosts prep in advance so they can spend their time mingling and connecting with their guests.


Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of this series, featuring an interview from the Snaxgod herself, Andrea Hernandez. In the meantime, check out The Fascination’s Holiday Hosting Hacks collection to find some of the best products to grab any time you are hosting anyone at your house. Or shop The Fascination’s collection of Gifts for the Foodie for the best gifts for the host in your life (if it’s not you, we won’t judge).