How to Create the Perfect Playlist for Your Next Dinner Party

Planning a dinner party is about more than just the food that you are going to serve. In addition to the guest list, the decor and the table setting, you'll want to create a playlist that helps set the mood and provide a backdrop for the night's conversations. At Pottery Barn, we've got you covered with the home audio equipment you need to play your music for your guests. All you have to do is come up with the songs, artists and genres that you think should be included in the playlist. Not sure what music to choose? Here are some tips to help get you started.

Use Different Genres to Create the Right Ambiance

The type of music you choose to play at your party can really help to create the ambiance you are going for. Four great genres to play during a dinner party are jazz music, R&B music, classical music and sometimes even Top 40 hits, depending on the type of dinner party you are throwing.

Jazz is ideal for creating a comfortable yet upscale vibe at your dinner party. The mellow music will encourage your guests to come in and make themselves feel at home, and it won't overpower the dinner conversation. To encourage a more energetic but still casual vibe, put together a playlist of R&B tracks instead. You may just find your guests moving and grooving along to the music. Alternatively, if you're looking to throw more of a formal dinner party, then classical music is the way to go. The atmosphere will immediately feel more sophisticated and the varying tempos and energy levels of classical tracks will keep your guests perked up.

Top 40 tracks are best reserved for more casual, potluck style dinner parties where guests might be sitting in different areas around your home rather than all together around a dinner table. In this sort of setting, you want to keep things upbeat and play music that most of your guests will be familiar with. You can add a few Top 40 throwbacks from the previous few decades in there as well.

Mix Genres to Change Up the Mood

Sometimes, you'll want to stick with a single genre the whole night because you feel it will help to carry the mood all the way through. Other times, it might be better to mix up genres over the course of the evening. Consider timing your playlist so that more relaxing and casual blues or jazz music plays while your guests are arriving, so that classical music or other types of instrumentals play during dinner and so that more upbeat Top 40 or nostalgic pop music begins to play once dinner is over and everyone starts socializing. You can even return to slower tempos and soothing genres near the end of the evening to encourage your guests to begin winding down and heading out.

How long you want your playlist to be depends on how long you plan to host your dinner party. Typically, about four hours is a good length of time to cover guest arrival, dinner and post-dinner mingling.

Stick with One Artist Within a Certain Genre

One of the easiest ways to create a playlist for a dinner party is to decide on a genre you think might be fitting and to pick a specific artist within the genre, ideally one who has released a few albums. Go through that artist's songs and either order them at random or choose songs with different tempos and moods for different times of the evening. Limiting yourself to a single artist with an extensive discography can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed when selecting songs for your playlist, but it will also give you enough variation to curate the playlist to your liking.

Play Complete Albums in Their Entirety

Because of modern technology, many playlists nowadays are a conglomeration of songs from different genres and artists, or from the same artist but off different albums. Sometimes, however, you might just have the perfect complete album (or a few perfect albums) for the occasion. If you have some complete albums that strike the right mood and ambiance for your dinner party, then why not simply use those rather than having to build a new playlist from scratch? It might be especially fun to play a few albums during your dinner party if you have a record player.

At the end of the day, the best rule of thumb you can follow when making a playlist for a dinner party is to choose music that you genuinely enjoy and that you feel your guests will enjoy as well. Music is very nice to have but it only helps to create the setting for what's truly important, which is quality time spent together with friends and family.