Gwyneth Paltrow's Wedding Planner Shares Her Tips For Throwing a Successful Virtual Dinner Party
Social-distancing measures may be (very slowly) letting up; and while we might be able to meet up with a friend or family member (outside of our household, that is) in the park, having people over for dinner is still a longways off. That doesn't mean you can't throw a dinner party, though. Like many of the activities we as a society have found ways to do digitally in the wake of the pandemic — school, working out, bachelorette party, pub quizzes — with a little ingenuity, a dinner party can totally be done over Zoom, Google Hangout, or the Houseparty app.
To get some ideas on how to throw a virtual dinner party (because honestly, we wouldn't even know where to start), we tapped luxury event planner Colleen Kennedy Cohen. Currently based in London, Kennedy Cohen knows a thing or two about throwing an amazing dinner party. The creative consultant and event designer previously worked in house at Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, and Cartier in New York City, before moving on to Goop, where she founded the events team and was integral to the design and execution of the company's bi-annual wellness summit. Her biggest party however? Gwyneth Paltrow's wedding back in September 2018.
"In this time of quarantine and social distancing, it's more important than ever to stay connected and continue to celebrate," says Kennedy Cohen. Keep reading to discover her best tips for expertly throwing a successful virtual dinner party — including a few decor ideas to really elevate the entire experience.
Keep It Small
"Unlike live dinner parties, more is not always merrier when it comes to the virtual world," says Kennedy Cohen. "When curating your guest list, keep it small to ensure you can interact with all of your guests and conversation flows naturally."
"Regardless of the platform you choose, make sure your guests fit on one screen (think grid layout), and try to limit it to six screens max," she adds.
Make It "Official"
"Make it "official" by sending out a digital invitation for the occasion," says Kennedy Cohen. "Paperless Post offers a great selection of virtual party invites with designs ranging from happy hours to virtual dinners and dance parties."
Plan Your Menu
Keep it interactive by having everyone cook the same thing. "Think out of the box, and try something new (curry, anyone?) or easy and delicious like homemade pizza or pasta," says Kennedy Cohen. (Editor's note: Gigi Hadid has a seriously tasty spicy vodka pasta sauce recipe if you need some inspiration) "Create wine or cocktail pairings for each course and don't skimp on dessert."
"In an effort to support small businesses, try to find local restaurants that are doing takeout packages with recipes to be prepared at home," says Kennedy Cohen.
Finalize the Details
"A few days before the dinner party, send an e-mail with all the information your guests need. Provide a link to the dial-in, the dinner menu, and ingredients list, and for an added touch, send a shared Spotify playlist for everyone to play the night of the dinner."
Set the Table
"I love the idea of everyone having the same table design remotely. Send your guests a link to purchase simple decor in advance, like this chic and affordable paper tablecloth and napkins from Summeril and Bishop (bonus — its recyclable)," says Kennedy Cohen.
"Grab your best china, glassware, pick flowers from outside, and don't forget lighting — ambience is everything, even digitally. Just have fun with it."
Colleen Kennedy Cohen's Virtual Dinner Party Décor Picks
S&B Falling Flower Paper Napkins in Avocado Green
S&B Falling Flower Paper Napkins in Avocado Green ($15 for set of 12)