How to Throw a Chic, Stress-Free Dinner Party

Fashion designer Araks Yeramyan's secret passion? Entertaining.

Taupe Table Setting

photography by CLAIRE COTTRELL


You know a swimsuit is perfect when it makes you want to immediately grab a towel and get under an umbrella stat. And this year, the swimwear doing the trick is fun, colorful, geometric, and bold. But a great suit deserves a great destination, so in this three-part mini series, we talk to some of the most beloved swim designers to discuss the best parts of summer, besides sun and surf: travel and entertaining.

We chatted with Mara Hoffman about her recent trip to Costa Rica, Lisa Marie Fernandez shared her travel tips and favorite destinations, and now Araks Yeramyan offers her go-to tips for a stress-free dinner party.

Throwing a dinner party is stressful! What are your secrets?

I always start thinking about my menu a week or so in advance. I like to think about it every night and make adjustments and refinements as the week goes by. I also include a few back up menu items on my list in case I change my mind or the ingredients are not available for some reason. This is not the time in which I experiment on new ideas, I always lean on trusted recipes.
 
I try to do as much prep the days leading up to the dinner as possible, from setting the table to getting all the dry ingredients prepared, however, I find it makes a huge difference to get all of the produce, dairy, fish and meat the morning of, so it is as fresh as possible. I start at the farmer’s market. They have the freshest options from local farms, and if you ask around you can find ones that are truly organic with no pesticides even if they are not certified. If I can’t find exactly what I need, I have to be a bit flexible and alter the recipe slightly like using broccoli instead of cauliflower or use a planned back up dish. 

I also plan the music I am going to play.  For some parties I create a playlist.  My other go to is playlists created by DJ duo Chances With Wolves.  They have several playlists that are already uploaded to Spotify and SoundCloud.  It always goes over really well.

 ARAKS YERAMYAN

photography by ARAKS YERAMYAN


How do you choose the menu?

My meal planning is very similar to how I design clothes. Very simple, but with a twist. For example, I like to serve lamb meatballs, its simply orange zest and garlic then baked with pomegranate molasses drizzled on top. 

I choose easy and simple recipes, but they need to feel fresh and special to my guests. The majority of my menu is clean and healthy, with a large variety of vegetables, and I always offer a meat and a fish to make sure I’ve covered all dietary needs with plenty of options. Most importantly, I love to include at least one or two decadent dishes. 
 
Any tips for a standout tablescape?
 
Before I set the table, I lay out all my serving dishes. I love an eclectic mix, a variety of shapes and colors (mostly shades of blue). Some are fancy, some are basic, and everything in between. The serving dishes must look beautiful on the table before I start placing the food on them. I make sure all the thinking is done before my dinner party starts, so I can devote all my attention to my guests. 
 
I always cover the table with candles. I have a centerpiece with a cluster of wooden candle sticks, and then I have an array of different kinds of candle sticks spread through the table and the room. I light up my book shelves with small votives throughout, and cover all my windows with white pillar candles of all different sizes. I make sure only one of the candles I am using is scented, and I place this one on the window sill away from the table so as not to overpower the smell of the food.  I love the ones from Le Labo

How do you handle those final touches and keep guests entertained?
 
I always serve appetizers in the kitchen. Everyone loves hanging out around the counter.  It also gives me time to finish up the final touches to dinner and be able to hang out. It's fun and gives a different environment from the rest of the night at the table. This also makes it easier to be social with different people all at once.

Who's on the guest list?
 
I always invite a diverse group of people. Not everyone will know everyone, but that’s the fun of it. I hope for people to leave having met someone they may not have otherwise crossed paths with. I make sure each guest knows at least a few people, so everyone feels comfortable.  I feel like having a good mix of people helps to keep the conversation interesting and fresh. 

Lightning round!
 
Go-to bathing suit: Our color block Elmar as it is one of the most flattering styles. I love the peony perse, a pink on pink color block.
 
Go-to outfit for a pool party: A subtly sheer coverup, like the Harper Caftan in Sea.
 
Cocktail to pair with it: "A glass of prosecco. If I was doing the hosting, I would also have Fragoli Wild Strawberry liqueur to go with the prosecco.

This story is part of our special 100 Days of Summer series. You can find more tips and fun ideas here.

Related reading:
Designer Lisa Marie Fernandez Dishes on Traveling to Exotic Places
How to Travel to Costa Rica Like a Swimsuit Designer
When I Dip: The Best Swimsuits to Buy Right Now

Published on July 12, 2017 - 4:00pm EDT

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