Recently, I've been obsessed with the concept of the crappy dinner party. In a nutshell, it's a low-effort, low-pressure entertaining style that lets you see your friends more often. Brilliant, right? But as hygge-inspired Scandinavian style takes over this winter, I can't help dreaming about adding just a few warm and fuzzy touches to this laid-back get-together. Welcome to the cozy-crappy dinner party.
Above: Even the most casual of gatherings deserves a toast. Image captured by Yuriy Manchik for Moment.
Throw sheepskins or blankets over chairs and benches, as shown above in the shot from Desire to Inspire, above. It's the oldest cozy decorating trick in the book, because it's the simplest way to instantly make your space feel warmer. No sheepskins? No problem - just grab blankets and throw pillows from around the house.
→ Not familiar with the crappy dinner party concept? Read about the 5 fuss-free rules before hosting your own.
Don't try to make it perfect. Imperfection and signs of wear and tear give a space a cozy, lived-in vibe, nailing that "not trying too hard" look Scandinavians are known for. Besides, when you go over to a friend's house, is it because you want to spend some quality time, or because you're hoping to inspect the state of their home? That's what I thought.
Warm up the lighting by hanging string lights overhead, placing floor lamps near the table, and lighting some candles. To make a strand of lights even cozier, Design Sponge wrapped the cord with brown twine.
Let textiles set the scene, turning even the floor into a cozy spot for a small gathering of friends. Set the stage with a wool blanket, as Kinfolk did above spotted on Scout, then add snacks and a backgammon set.
Assemble a centerpiece out of things you already own: Arrange succulents, small plants, and jars and drinking glasses filled with tea lights down the center of the table, as The Fresh Exchange demonstrates above.
Keep place settings simple. A fork, a knife, a napkin and a plate for each guest are all you need. If you can't resist a little extra flair, tie rosemary sprigs left over from the food prep around each napkin.
Serve everything family style, in large serving bowls or platters at the center of the table, like the shabu-shabu above from Tasting Table. Letting everyone reach across each other and share from the same dishes only adds to the communal feel of the meal. Bonus points if you have a round table so everyone can help themselves.
Don't try to do it all. If the thought of hosting a full dinner seems daunting, stick to just one course, such as appetizers or dessert. Inviting friends over for cake is much less intimidating than serving a 3-course meal. Try something decadent and delicious from Kitchn's cake recipe archive (or simply pick up a pretty store-bought one...shh).
Let it linger. If your first instinct is to start clearing plates the second everyone's done eating—slow down a second. One of the keys to the hygge hangout is to savor each others' company just as much as the food. If you don't appear to be in a rush to get everyone out the door, your guests are much more likely to linger over another drink.