When planning a dinner party, scenes of your closest friends and family mingling and eating together play in your head. Typically, most of the fun at a dinner party usually happens around a table. But what exactly do you do when you want to host a dinner party without a table?
You can host a dinner party without a table by going for tableless themes, opting for standing-friendly food, using other smaller tables in your house, or strategizing the arrangement of your furniture and decor.
I know you’re worried about your event flopping, so I’m here to help you. Tables are always present at dinner parties, but they don’t determine the success of your occasion. Ease your worries, and rest assured that by the end of this article, you’ll know how to make the most of your available furniture.
Tables are the go-to furniture for dinner parties. They are usually leveled well enough for guests to eat and socialize comfortably. Dinner tables are particularly large; you would want everyone to mingle as a group and not go off in smaller circles.
But you can still feed your guests generously and give them a good time without tables. Sometimes, having a table-less party would make for a memorable event. Everyone’s doing tables for their dinner parties anyways.
Some cultures around the world do not have tables during dinner. Some would opt to sit on the floor and socialize. For some communities, furniture just doesn’t make sense and doesn’t go well with the regard they have for dinner and merrymaking.
This actually kind of proves my point. You can eat and socialize without furniture!
I advise you to go for a theme that requires no tables. You can just explain ahead that having no table is actually a part of the entire experience!
Here are some themes you can follow:
As you may know, Japan is prone to earthquakes. As such, they avoid heavy furniture to make evacuation easier. If you happen to have an extra few bucks, you can purchase a tatami mat and some pillows instead. You can even buy paper lanterns and plastic sakura flowers for a truly Japanese feel.
For the food, you can go for some classic sukiyaki or try your hand at some ramen. If you’re up to it, you can serve some sushi, although be warned, doing it requires a lot of precision!
In fact, you can overshadow the fact that there’s no furniture by hiring a great chef to cook fancy Japanese food for your guests. And don’t worry, hiring a chef doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out my article discussing how much chefs cost for a dinner party for more information.
If you or your friends are all unacquainted with the cuisine, you can go for some tempura! Surely, no one can resist shrimp fried in light batter!
For centuries, the people of Western Asia have practiced the custom of laying out an array of food on a small metal tray for everyone to share and enjoy. Being traditionally nomadic people, they would just lay out a small carpet and lay the tray on top.
You can go for a Moroccan-style dinner and impress your friends with the flavors and textures of traditional Moroccan food. If you have an Arabic carpet with you and some pillows, you can lay it down to mirror a traditional Moroccan meal.
Compliment it with thin fabrics and play traditional Moroccan music as you eat! You can even buy some Moroccan incense to make for a truly authentic experience!
For the food, you can serve up some kebabs, grilled meat served in a wrap with some veggies, or some couscous, for those who are more health-conscious.
My personal favorite, however, is tagine! It is meat braised in a mixture of olives, lemons, onions, and many other spices! Serve this, and your cooking skills will be the talk of the town!
Like Moroccans and Arabs, Koreans were nomads and practiced eating while seated on the floor. In fact, they would specifically heat their floors to make for a convenient dining experience.
Sitting on the floor also removes distance from each other, making meals so much more intimate.
For the food, you can go for some mandu as appetizers. They’re generally very easy to make. For the main course, you can go for some Korean beef bulgogi and have some kimchi on the side.
For dessert, why not try some bingsu. Trust me, it’s a dessert you can’t go wrong with.
I’m absolutely saving one of my favorite cuisines for last. Indian food is probably one of the more exciting cuisines out there! A lot of their ingredients you won’t find anywhere in the world aside from India, and this will surely excite your friends!
If you notice most Hindu art, their deities are all seated, and sitting on the floor is their way of showing respect!
For the food, you can serve some chicken tikka masala, which is probably one of the more flavorful dishes. For carbohydrates, you can give them some naan or some roti.
Samosas, on the other hand, make for amazing appetizers. These are potatoes wrapped in a thin wrapper and served with delicious chutney sauce.
Further accentuate your dining space with some linen and play tantric music for added drama. Surely, your friends won’t have a boring night.
Now, if you’re looking for more ideas, check out Our Delicious World, a recipe book boasting a rich collection of delicious dinner party grub from around the world. If you’re lacking inspiration, well, this book has got you covered!
Give your friends no reason to look for a table by preparing standing-friendly food. This includes finger foods or food you can wrap your hand around as you eat.
Avoid soups and heavy sauces as they usually require guests to sit down. Thick slabs of meat are also ill-advised, as you would need to sit down and cut them up into smaller pieces to eat.
Some great standing-friendly food include kebabs, tempura bites, takoyaki, or some samosas! If you don’t fancy any of the suggested themes, you can go for some classic mini-burgers or chicken pops!
If you expect people to stand up, you also have to give them something to do while standing up. You can insert lively music that people can dance to as they interact and enjoy your delicious food.
But, as the night goes on, your guests will grow tired and look for places to sit. Prepare your couch or have some pillows available for them to rest on.
Make sure that your couch is protected by some cloth and some coasters. When people are in a dancey mood, they tend to be less aware of their surroundings.
Serving delicious appetizers is a great way to make a first impression. By the time your guests have finished the last appetizer piece, they’d have forgotten there’s no table for them to sit on.
It also sets the tone for how the rest of the night will go. Based on experience, if the host kills it with the appetizer, he or she will probably kill it too with the rest of the dishes.
The absence of a table will surely be felt by your guests, so you can make up for it by making the area as spacious as possible.
Remove clutter or any appliance or furniture in your dining area. If you expect guests to dance, you have to give them space to dance. A spacious environment also allows for a variety of interactive games!
Remember, the food and how your place looks are second only to how you make your guests feel. You should be all set as long as you prevent them from being bored and you are a gracious and entertaining host.
If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard or a balcony, use it. Open your windows and doors to prevent the space from being stuffy.
Having outdoor space also gives your guests something to talk about. You can even play music since the sound doesn’t reverberate as hard in a non-walled area.
If you live in a place with a balcony, your friends will have a view to look at both in the streets and the skies.
The downside to this, however, is that you have to be prepared if it rains. Ensure that the dining area is covered with umbrellas so your food and set up won’t be ruined. Make sure there is a dining area inside and outside the house.
If a guest insists on eating on a flat surface, you can offer them your coffee or work table. Before the party, you can lay out the furniture so you won’t have to clear up your workspace and lift these tables outside.
Stools can also come in handy and help you counter the lack of a table. A nest of stools can help make life easier for everyone at the party, especially guests like parents who might feel more comfortable using flat surfaces when feeding their children.
Your guests may notice you having no table and react negatively to it. You can win them back and save the night by plating the food aesthetically and killing it with the presentation.
Suppose you’re going for a theme; amp up the service by placing decor following the chosen theme. Don’t use decor with Korean characters if you’re going for a Japanese theme, for example.
If you’re running low on budget, you can hit the thrift stores for some decor! Usually, decor comes cheap in thrift stores as decor doesn’t target functionality. It just has to look presentable.
You can also take on characters, like a famous anime character, to make the night extra memorable. Just make sure that you don’t portray something offensive.
Overall, the important thing here is that the guests see your effort to give them a great night.
While serving takeout food from the nearest restaurant will save you a lot of time and effort, serving food you made yourself makes the night much more special. I already mentioned how important it is for guests to see the effort, which extends significantly to the food.
In my experience, I could forgive slightly overcooked pasta or vegetables that are too mushy if I knew that the host poured their heart and soul into making them.
Some easy beginner-friendly dishes include bruschetta, tacos, tagine with some couscous, or hummus with pita!
Under normal circumstances, you would pour drinks for your guests. Once they’re finished drinking, they would set down their glasses or bottles on the table.
Being tableless means you won’t have a lot of surfaces to work with. You can place coasters on flat surfaces you would want guests to put their drinks on.
You can also set up a punch bowl or a drinks station so the guests can pour the drink themselves.
A fun party with average food is better than a boring party with delicious food. As the host, you must create the most memorable entertainment for everyone.
One personal favorite of mine is karaoke. If your neighbors don’t mind, you can have your guests sing to their favorite tunes as you keep refreshing their drinks. You can even have your own mini-song contest!
Another personal favorite is a murder mystery game. If you think you have the chops to write and enact a compelling mystery, this one's for you! Give your friends their characters in advance and have everyone come in costume representing their characters!
Another really good one is board games! The good thing about them is that there is a board game for everyone. If your friends are a bunch of smartypants, you can have Scrabble night or Boggle. If you’re down to do something a bit more physical, go for Twister!
End the night with everyone having fun. You would want to keep the momentum up until the end. Try not to let the night lose steam, as their judgment of your party will greatly rely on the last thing they remember.
With that, you should be all set. Now go throw the best tableless party with your guests!
Hosting a dinner party without a table is nothing unusual; you just need to get the basics right. Going for a tableless theme would work well, especially if you prepare standing-friendly meals.
You can also rearrange your furniture to make the most of the available space or take the entire dinner party outdoors if the weather allows.
Whatever options you choose, it all comes down to how good a host you are. Keeping every guest entertained with the best meals and improvising with available furniture will ensure the party is one for the books.