These Are Joanna Gaines’ Best Secrets for an Amazing Party

Joanna Gaines may no longer be greeting viewers on Fixer Upper, but rest assured that her design and style secrets will live on. Because legends never die. These tips for creating an amazing party transcend the barriers of specific holidays, birthday and dinner parties. Here are Joanna Gaines’ best secrets for any kind of party. 

1. Set your date, time, and vibe

Joanna Gaines flowers vases

Decide what kind of party you want to throw. | Joanna Gaines via Facebook

The obvious first step of any gathering is setting a date, a time, and most importantly — a vibe. The vibe is not the theme. It more revolves around the formality of the party. Should your guests dress up? Should they dress casually? Be sure you factor in the atmosphere and experience you’re wanting to conjure up for your guests. This will help steer your vision as the planning unfolds.

Next: Usually, the difficult piece of party planning is this. 

2. Create your guest list

Joanna gaines winter dinner party

Know who you want to invite. | Magnolia Market

A lot of pressure surrounds guest lists. Whether it be for a wedding or a dinner party, picking and choosing which friends you want to invite can create a bit of anxiety. But grappling with the decision does not have to create discomfort. Instead, simply acknowledge that you only have a budget and space for a certain amount of loved ones, and that is that.

Next: This is where the real fun starts. 

3. Pick a theme and color scheme

Joanna Gaines table setting

Make sure everything is coordinated. | Magnolia Market

Choosing the theme of your party is where the real fun comes into play. The theme should be seamlessly coupled with the vibe you’re hoping to cultivate. Gaines is a big fan of the “little herb-inspired ‘garden to table’ dinner party.” Once you choose a theme, choose an accent color that enhances all of the its elements. For Gaines’s garden-to-table dinner party, she chose a soft pink.

Next: The way to automatically amp up your party (before it ever happens).

4. Keep it intimate with real invitations

Joanna Gaines Dinner party invitation

Invitations will up the game. | Magnolia Market

Since you are planning to pull out all of the stops, consider amping up your party game by sending out real, snail mail invitations. That means no Facebook event invitation, no group text message, and no Evite. Sending out real invitations will not only make your guests feel extra special, but it creates a more intimate feel. For Gaines’s garden-to-table dinner party, she used these invitations (which are free to download).

Next: The Joanna Gaines party secret, revealed. 

5. Know the importance of a table setting

green glassware

Table settings can make a huge difference. | Target

Gaines has a gift when it comes to table settings, and thankfully for all of us, she openly shares her success secrets. The essence of your dinner party comes to fruition with the table seeing. Furthermore, it is where all of your hard work and planning comes together. There is both a rhyme and reason for how you assemble your table setting though, so keep reading.

Next: The table setting — dissected. 

6. “Bring the outside in”

Joanna Gaines decorating chandelier

Gaines decorates her chandelier with greenery. | Magnolia Market

Even if you aren’t springing for a farm to table theme, the table setting is where you want to focus on “bringing the outside in.” The natural elements of flowers and greenery add warmth and “an extra layer” to the setting. Additionally, Gaines recommends utilizing that chandelier above your table to weave in some additional greenery, using a little wire to secure the branches and stems.

Next: How to keep your table setting from falling flat.

7. Make the table setting multi-dimensional

Joanna Gaines Christmas Dinner Party table setting

Add plenty of texture. | Magnolia Market

Beyond bringing the outside inside, the last thing your table setting needs is to fall flat. Gaines suggests adding texture and dimension with a few simple tricks. Using greenery and florals to run the length of your table will automatically add a natural, multi-dimensional feel. If you opt for a cloth runner, you’ll want to bring in dimension with different heights of candles and holders, along with varied flower stems or small plants.

Next: Make sure you aren’t overzealous with the setting.

8. But avoid cluttering the table

Joanna gaines food

Don’t put too much on the table. | Magnolia Market

Before you throw yourself into haphazardly filling your table with everything you can get your hands on, pump the brakes. There is a fine line between a well-orchestrated table setting and a cluttered table setting. Avoid the latter at all costs. If you find yourself feeling like the table has too much going on, it most likely does. Reign it in by keeping the setting cohesive and simple.

Next: Another area to pump the experimentation brakes.

9. Create the menu around foolproof recipes

Joanna Gaines making pizza

She knows pizza is always a winner. | Magnolia Market

You have been there. A Bon Appetit recipe catches your eye and suddenly you are planning a dinner party based on the idea of creating this new dish. Do yourself a favor and take Gaines’s advice. “When hosting, use recipes you know are fool-proof.” Trying a new recipe on top of making your house presentable for guests is cause for stress and even disaster.

Next: Does anyone have time to make everything from scratch? 

10. Don’t feel like you need to make everything from scratch

Joanna Gaines dinner party

She bought the baguettes and sauces. | Magnolia Market

Yes, there is something to be said about attending a dinner party where every single course has been made from scratch. But let’s face it, that is just not a possibility or reality for everyone. For Gaines’s garden to table dinner party, she decided to forego making homemade baguettes for the appetizer course (because who has time for that?). Instead, she purchased baguettes from the grocery store, along with the accompanying dipping sauces.

Next: An easy way to add some excitement. 

11. Create a special drink station

Create a special area for drinks. | iStock/Getty Images

For a holiday party, Gaines likes to create a hot cocoa station equipped with all the fixings. The same rules apply for any time of year, whether it’s a lemonade, margarita, or sweet tea station. According to Gaines, a drink station is an “inexpensive detail will excite your guests as soon as they see it.”

Next: This one favor will make your party extra memorable.

12. Party favors make a dinner party feel extra special

Joanna gaines jam

She gave adorable jam jars to her guests. | Magnolia Market

Brace yourself — for party favors. I know, it sounds like an overreaching and unnecessary piece of the party puzzle, but it really does make your guests feel extra special. Luckily, bidding your guests farewell with a favor in hand does not have to break your party budget. The key, according to Gaines, is to “tie in your party theme.” For her garden to table theme, she sent guests home with a jar of apple rosemary jam.

Next: It’s not always easy, but make sure you are keeping everything in perspective. 

13. Focus your energy

Joanna Gaines party

Make sure you and your guests are comfortable. | Magnolia Market

In the throws of planning and executing your party, it can be very easy to become stressed and lose sight of why you decided to ever the plan the party in the first place. The key to your sanity and your party’s success is just to relax. But Gaines says it best. “your guests will feel as comfortable as you feel calm, so enjoy these moments. Don’t get overwhelmed and remember perfection is not the goal.”

Next: Planning is everything.

14. Don’t overcommit yourself


You should be doing the last minute tasks. | Joanna Gaines via Instagram

The day of your party is not the day to complete every item on your month-long to-do list, absolutely not. Instead, the day of your party should be the day you assemble your table setting and prepare the meal. Tie up any loose ends like housekeeping and do as much prep as you can before the party day. This will alleviate that terrible feeling of overcommitment.

Next: Don’t forget about the kiddos.

15. Make sure the kids can handle your nicer glassware

Gaines Family Fixer Upper Instagram

Make sure your kids can handle it. | Joanna Gaines via Instagram

Not all children are created equally (sorry). The age and behavior of the children should greatly influence whether or not you let them have their way with your fancy glassware. Gaines admits that she “wouldn’t suggest setting out your most expensive glassware for the kiddos,” but if they are capable, “it always makes them feel included and trusted.”

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Source: Magnolia