Entertaining or hosting a dinner party as a minimalist can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be.
You’ve minimized your kitchenware, but now don’t have enough for all your guests. You want to make a nice impression, but don’t want to store a bunch of decorations just to be used once or twice a year. You even follow a minimalist diet and worry that your simple minimalist menu won’t impress your guests.
As a fellow minimalist who likes hosting and entertaining, I have some tips for you to prove that minimalist hosting can be managed successfully!
I’m going to go over:
- a minimalist holiday menu plan
- minimalist party planning ideas
- minimalist options for dishes and servingware when you don’t have enough for a crowd (because you’re a minimalist!)
- minimalist holiday party decoration ideas
Minimalist Holiday Menu Plan
Make a simple meal plan. When hosting others you don’t need to go all out. You don’t need to try to impress your guests (and if you feel like you do, then you’re inviting the wrong guests IMHO).
An actual minimalist dinner party menu I’ve served:
- vegetarian chili
- homemade bread
- dark chocolate for dessert, served with peppermint tea
And guess what? Everyone LOVED it. They were so happy for the company and raved about the homemade bread.
Unless it was a large crowd of 15+, or a potluck dinner party, the most I would serve would be:
- 0-1 appetizer
- a protein
- 1-2 starch options
- 1-2 vegetable options
- 0-1 salad
- 0-1 dessert
- 0-2 beverage options besides water (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
Of the options, you can keep it simple like using a bagged salad mix or serving a pre-made dessert. There are no rules that everything has to be from scratch!
If you don’t believe it’s possible to host a great minimalist dinner party with a simple menu, read this story.
Also read some ideas for simple party food ideas that won’t break the budget.
Enjoying good food doesn’t have to mean extravagant food. Simple food enjoyed with good company is all you need to have a great time!
Minimalist Party Planning Ideas
Host a potluck
If everyone brings a dish then it will save you a lot of time and money while still being able to host a big group of people. Plus potlucks are fun! I love trying peoples’ new recipes.
Host a baking or meal exchange night
Combine consumable gifts with a gift exchange by doing a cookie exchange.
Everyone brings like three dozen cookies and you swap them amongst each other so you get a dozen or half dozen of each kind of cookie.
It’s easy time because you only have to bake one type of cookie but you still get a variety of cookies to serve over the holidays! Plus it’s a gathering with friends so you don’t have to have a separate gathering. The party is the gift and the gathering.
So it’s a win win win: save time baking multiple recipes, save money, spend time with friends, and save time by not having two separate events (one for a get together and one for exchanging gifts).
You’re also saving the environment because you’re not giving random unnecessary things wrapped in plastic that people don’t even care about or want cluttering their house.
You could also do a similar exchange where are you doing a freezer meal exchange.
Everyone makes a big batch of food like chili, soup, or stew, then freeze it in containers. Then you swap and everyone gets a variety of meals while only having to cook one meal!
Host a craft night themed party
Make your minimalist approach to entertaining a time to also be productive. A similar example of the cookie exchange, is a craft night with your friends!
Make homemade cards and then instead of having a party where you just sit around and drink you’re actually doing something. Also you don’t have to spend several hours making cards for yourself so you’re saving time while also hosting a fun and unique minimalist Christmas party with your friends.
Minimalist Dinner Party Dishes & Servingware
You likely only have enough dishes for your family’s everyday use if you’re an extreme minimalist.
In our house, we have an 8 piece set of everyday minimalist dinnerware. It’s more than we need day-to-day as a couple, but we do have family over fairly regularly so having a set of 8 covers us for all those times without any extra hassle.
When you’re suddenly hosting a group of people, how do you make sure you have enough dishes without storing them all year for the one or two times when you host? This goes the same with servingware, chairs, or any other thing you need extra of just a few times a year.
I’m just going to go on a mini rant to tell you things you absolutely don’t need at a minimalist dinner party:
- salad/dessert forks: hello, a fork is a fork. Wipe it clean if it really bothers you
- table cloths: what even are the purpose of table cloths? I only see them adding a granny vibe to homes and adding another thing to clean. Ex: if there is a spill, now you have to clean the table AND the tablecloth, rather than just wiping the table
- place mats: um, I think the guests can tell where to sit based on where the chairs are…
- napkin rings: 🙃 just. why? What is wrong with folding a napkin?
- charger plates: no thanks, I’d rather not have another dish to wash (and store!)
- multiple cocktail glasses: Unless you and your guests are big drinkers who love all sorts of cocktails… But usually people who drink have their drink of choice. I think wide-mouth stemless wine glasses do the job well enough of most other types of drink glasses
- matching set of dining room chairs
- gravy boat
As for servingware, you don’t need anything special for this either. I prefer to serve buffet style out of the cooking dishes.
I’ve been to some dinner parties that were decidedly not minimalist. The host insisted on serving everything at the table in fancy serving dishes. This essentially doubled the amount of dishes to clean while also making the table extremely crowded and allowing the food to get cold… It’s her life so if that makes her happy, then great! But I personally don’t see the pros outweighing the cons in that situation.
Even if you really love to serve the meal at the table and not use the cooking dishes, you don’t need a separate set of matching serving dishes.
I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but use what you have! Mixing bowls, sheet pans, cutting boards and pyrex baking dishes all make great serving dishes and you probably already have them.
Use what you have
This is the best option whenever it’s feasible and when you have easy going guests.
Serve pasta in bowls for some guests and on plates for others 🤷♀️
Do you have a set of your grandmother’s china in storage that you can also combine with your everyday dishes to have enough to serve everyone on? It doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy.
Serve a simple menu so you don’t need separate forks for salad and the main dish. I mean, do people even do that at home anyway? I know many silverware sets have both salad and entree forks but I just see it as a waste.
This is a great option that’s commonly available in bigger cities. You can likely rent small numbers of serving ware at a time and then return it when you’re done with it.
Ask guests to bring dishes
Anyone in my circle of friends wouldn’t have an issue with this! Just say, “hey, bring your own dishes because I don’t have enough for everyone. Thanks!”
This also works well for potluck dinners. You don’t have to have a bunch of serving dishes because all the food served out of the dish it was brought in!
Edit the menu
Plan the menu around the dishes you have. If you only have 4 bowls but 8 guests, don’t serve soup!
If you don’t have enough dishes and none of the other options are available to you, consider serving appetizers, nibbles, & finger foods instead of a full meal!
Then you don’t really need dishes as guests can take take from the serving dishes and put a few things on a napkin at a time.
Last resort: disposables 😕
I personally would rather just not host if none of the other options applied. I wouldn’t use disposables at a party as it’s expensive, wasteful and not very classy #sorrynotsorry.
But if this is your only option, definitely choose a sturdier paper plate that is compostable over styrofoam or plastic which will literally be cluttering the earth long past our lifetimes. Adding unnecessary trash to the earth is not minimalist at all.
Minimalist Christmas Party Decorations
Do you need holiday themed table cloths & matching napkins to have a festive holiday party tablescape? What about napkin rings and charger plates? Nope!
Minimalist holiday entertaining and Christmas party decorations should consist of simple, timeless pieces that can be used all winter.
Here are some of my favorites:
- potted plants
- cut flowers
- holiday decorations found in nature
- seasonal greenery
- pine cones
- pretty branches
- plain linens (if you want them at all) white is my favorite, but pretty much any color will do!
- decorate with food
- twinkle lights
- holiday decorations you already have
- Christmas balls in a vase
- an ornament at each place setting
The point of the holidays is to enjoy time spent with the people you care about not about showing off how perfect of a party planner you are.
Hopefully you got some useful tips for following a minimalist lifestyle and entertaining guests at the same time!