Music for Your Next Dinner Party

Music for Your Next Dinner Party

I used to spend hours making meticulously crafted playlists for every situation—summertime, weekend mornings, new music, running, etc. Now, I use a lot of mood- or genre-based playlists for background music. But there are still three playlists I maintain regularly: new music, running, and dinner parties.

To me, the ideal dinner party playlist is a mix of classics and new music that should be interesting enough to catch your ear but not too loud to talk over. Usually a mix of jazz, blues, and the right indie music achieves this. In the playlists below, you’ll find a great mix, from jazz (“Freddie Freeloader” by Miles Davis has probably played at every get together I’ve hosted) to indie (Glass Animals and Sylvan Esso are current favorites), plus a few surprises (two tracks by Parov Stelar provide a nice bounce). I also like to include what I call the “surprising cover”—like Jamie Cullum’s version of “Frontin’” or “The Suburbs” by Mr. Little Jeans. 

Some of these dinner party favorites have been with me since my college years, like “Even After All” by Finley Quaye (I highly recommend the entire album—easily one of the most overlooked albums of the 1990s and it still sounds great). 

Now that the music is set, here are a few more tips that make entertainjng with small children a bit easier.

 A recent dinner party with good friends, plenty of kids, basketball hoops, and great music that kept the vibe fun.

A recent dinner party with good friends, plenty of kids, basketball hoops, and great music that kept the vibe fun.

First, don’t stress yourself out and try to cook everything. Lately we have been buying a large, slow-cooking cut of meat (like the “Cardiff Crack” tri-tip from a local market), choosing a few prepared sides from Whole Foods or another market, and then setting out a casual dessert, like cookies and ice cream, that can be enjoyed on the run. The tri-tip makes me feel like I’m still cooking, but I am less stressed about timing and get to spend more time with my guests. 

And second, don’t overlook the kids. We buy kid-sized buns and let them sit at the table, so they feel like part of everything. Or set out a few kid-friendly munchies with your appetizers. One of our neighbors mixed small bowls of goldfish, cheese cubes, and baby carrots into her cheese plate, and the kids loved it. After dinner, while the kids run around (likely with a cookie in hand), the adults can linger at the table (this playlist is nearly three hours, after all).

If the playlist finishes and you are looking to dial up the energy level, try two of my favorites, depending on the crowd—the Chef soundtrack (parents, in-laws, and bosses) or 90s hip hop (everyone else).

For another “surprising cover,” check out The Weeknd‘s “Wicked Games” by Coeur de Pirate (it’s actually supposed to be on this playlist after “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”). And here’s a list of my favorite songs of 2017

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