Mar 16, 2024 - Real Estate

The Chicago dinner party renaissance is here

outdoor dinner party spread with hot pink tablecloth

A tablescape by dinner party wares rental company Canary. Photo: Emily Bennett, courtesy of Beth Nash

Foodies have dubbed 2024 the year of the dinner party, but these aren't your parents' gatherings.

Why it matters: Entertaining at home is one way for people to get the connection they crave, on a budget.

Zoom in: Chicago's dinner party scene is growing. Ayahna Wilbon, who launched a recurring dinner party last year, uses social media to bring strangers together.

  • Ellie Nottoli, a Highland Park-based event planner, is also seeing an increase in dinner parties.

State of play: Searches for "dinner parties" on Evite increased 148% from this time last year, according to data the online invitation company shared with Axios.

  • Millennials and Gen Zers are especially leaning into their "hosting era," with an emphasis on creative tablescapes and themed experiences.
  • That's partly because "visually appealing content around hosting is highly valued and widely shared" on TikTok and Instagram, Olivia Pollock, senior brand director at Evite, tells Axios.

The big picture: A host of dinner party startups like Hauste and Canary are catering to younger adults, at a time when dining out is still expensive and many have soured on drinking.

  • The businesses aim to make food-focused fetês easier to pull off, offering curated dinner party guides, plate rentals, Spotify playlists and other services.
Table: Axios Visuals
Table: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: We asked tastemakers locally and around the country about the latest dinner party trends.

  • What elevates a "'dinner with friends' to a true 'dinner party' is either a theme or more table decorations than my everyday dinner has," says Marissa Kelly, a Chicago-based photographer who hosts soirees for her friends.

What's next: More couples are opting for intimate dinner parties over large wedding receptions.

  • Pinterest searches for "wedding dinner party" grew 150% year-over-year, according to the platform's 2024 trend report.

Go deeper: How to make the most of your dinner party

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