Introducing the Revenge Dinner Party: Here’s How to Dress, Decorate and Cook for the Occasion

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After summer 2020, one thing’s for sure: We’re beyond desperate to socialize. And the revenge dinner party (as in, a dinner party so epic that it makes up for lost time spent in solitude during quarantine) trend is proof. According to a recent study by ButcherBox, nearly half of us are eager to entertain our friends and family once it’s safe enough to do so. With vaccinations on the rise and summer weather on the horizon, hosting a next-level meal at our place feels more fun (and lower-risk) than heading to a restaurant. Here’s how to prepare for an unforgettable revenge dinner party, from your outfit to the menu.

9 Trends That Will Be Huge During the Summer of ‘Revenge Travel’

Dress to Impress

Last year, we lived in sweatpants and tie-dye tees. So, it’s no surprise that we’re wearing the most exciting clothing we own every chance we get this summer—and we’re not the only ones. PureWow editor Abby Hepworth can attest to the trend: “Generally, people are dressing up more and more, so wear cocktail dresses, fun statement jewelry, bold colors or even sequins—even if it’s just to a friend’s house for dinner.”

That’s right: Pieces you’d have considered only for special occasions pre-COVID are now totally acceptable to rock at a low-key barbecue or dinner party. Here are a few outfit ideas we love:

1. Free People Park Slope Maxi Dress In Bluebell Combo

Funky, Palm Springs-inspired prints, retro sunnies and ’60s to ’70s-style florals are everywhere this summer. Treat yourself to a comfy-yet-sophisticated dress that you can gussy up or keep casual, depending on the setting. Your wardrobe could always use more bright colors, mini silhouettes and vintage glam, right?

2. Vince Camuto Hammered Satin Blouse In Pink Shock

OK, let’s say you don’t want to dress up too much to spend an evening in your own backyard. Fair enough. How about a basic blouse in a vibrant shade that’s bold without being over the top? Take this satin pick, which echoes the hot-pink-everything trend that’s sweeping our closet.

3. Anaya With Love High-neck Maxi Dress With Tiered Lace And Tulle Skirt In Lilac

Bring on the balletcore. Instead of going the usual route (aka a tulle skirt with pointy flats or strappy sandals), dare to pair this dress with sporty sneakers or edgy boots for a unique look that’s bound to turn heads.

4. Amanda Uprichard Nashville Top In Butterfly

This signature 2000s look is back with a vengeance. Believe us when we say scarf tops *can* look chic, elegant and mature, especially when paired with cropped jeans, cool joggers or heeled sandals.

5. Cowl Slip Midi Dress

You have a ton of rescheduled weddings to attend over the next two years. Thankfully, the slip dress isn’t disappearing anytime soon, so consider this purchase an investment. Show it off to your friends while you host, then repurpose it for every formal event on your itinerary.

6. Gucci Logo Rubber Platform Sandals

Sure, they’re a splurge. But they work with pretty much every single summer outfit you can think of. Wear them by the pool, to a fancy rooftop bar and, most importantly, your backyard revenge party. (They’ll look stellar on Insta, BTW.)

Make Your Table (and Yard) Shine

You and your backyard got realllll close once quarantine started, since it was kind of the only way to get fresh air that felt safe. But now, you’re opening your oasis to guests, so a little sprucing up couldn’t hurt. Think twinkling lights, communal spaces and a stunning tablescape. If you don’t have an outdoor space all your own, there are still tons of ways to give your apartment or dining room a glow-up ahead of the party. Here are a few decorative products to add to your cart, stat:

revenge dinner party decor lights

1. Gerson Long Electric Light String Set, 20 Count

Nothing takes an outdoor space from basic to enchanting as quickly as string lights. (And since there are a ton of elegant, affordable ones on the market, you don’t need to settle for last year’s Christmas lights.)

Buy it ($29)

revenge dinner party decor citronella candles

2. Threshold Citronella Ceramic Clay 1-wick Candle

Forget the massive torches. These will keep the bugs away and blend right into the ambiance, thanks to their mod, sleek design and natural colors.

Buy it ($12)

3. Wildflower Table Runner By April Cornell

We’re big fans of pairing a bold, seasonal table runner with low-key, neutral dinnerware. That way, the table looks decorated without being too busy, and there will be nothing to distract from all the gorgeous food. Light a few candles or tealights, put some flowers in the center and you’re good to go.

4. Le Creuset 16-piece Dinnerware Set In Nutmeg

Your favorite Dutch oven brand does way more than just…well, Dutch ovens. This set is made of dense stoneware, meaning each piece retains heat like a charm and is coated in stain- and scratch-resistant enamel for durability.

revenge dinner party decor fire pit

5. Landmann Ball O’ Fire Fire Pit

Whether there are s’mores or wine-infused convos on the agenda, it all goes down around the fire pit. The large pivoting screen not only allows easy access to the fire when desired, but it also catches rogue sparks before they escape.

Buy it ($262)

6. Brightland Summer Grilling Capsule

Show off your grilling skills with Brightland’s newest set that includes all the essentials, from coarse salt to cedar planks. The most important part? The LUCID lemon olive oil, made from handpicked heirloom olives. (It’d taste great on grilled fish, chicken or veggies.)

Cook Something Delicious

A dinner party is only as memorable as the food. In the spirit of summer, we’re serving seasonal dishes that are impressive, easy to pull off and great for groups. (Oh, and since you’ll need something to wash it all down with, might we suggest serving Haus apéritifs on ice with sparkling water? They’re our low-effort go-to drink these days.) Here are a handful of our favorite mains, sides and desserts to put on the menu:

1. Grilled Flank Steak With Lemon-herb Sauce

Steak never fails to make a guest feel important, whether it’s your dad on Father’s Day or a romantic dinner for two. Marinate the meat for an hour while everyone’s settling in with their first drink, then grill the steak for about seven minutes per side. Once it rests, dinner’s ready to serve.

2. Weeknight Skillet Paella

Meet our favorite way to feed six people in one hour. Not only does this shrimp, clam and chorizo paella come together in a single skillet, but it looks way more complicated to pull off than it is, so everyone at the table will be wowed. Serve it with a cold pitcher of homemade sangria.

3. Skillet Chicken With Apricots And Fresh Herbs

Behold, the summer equivalent to Thanksgiving turkey. White wine, cream and a whole shallot unite to create a decadent gravy for the savory thighs, which get crispy on the outside without drying on the inside. But the in-season apricots are bound to steal the show.

4. Mac And Cheese With Crispy Parmesan-phyllo Crust

Baked macaroni and cheese is a must at every barbecue, but your usual recipe might not feel fancy enough for a revenge dinner party. Enter our decadent take, which features three types of cheese, a ton of butter and a crispy crown of phyllo dough rosettes.

5. Light And Tangy Coleslaw

Pulled pork sandwiches. Barbecue ribs. Grilled cheeseburgers. Fish tacos. This easy, breezy side plays nicely with countless summer mains. Our spin? Ditch traditional mayo for tangy Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard and a generous splash of zingy rice vinegar.

6. Rainbow Vegetable Skewers

We’re all for serving a cold salad (especially one with fresh berries or melon) on a hot night. But these skewers are just too versatile and simple to pass up. Stick to one vegetable per skewer so each one cooks evenly—just be sure to cut them as uniformly as possible.

7. Berry Galette

The quickest route from zero to “OMG, how did you make this?!” usually involves store-bought pie crust. And since a galette is basically a freeform pie, you won’t need to fuss over crimped edges either. Genius.

8. Grilled Pineapple Split Sundae With Cherry Sauce

Keep those flames burning to char a few pieces of tart, juicy pineapple. The grill will bring out its sweetness and offer a touch of smokiness to the picture-perfect sundae. (Don’t even get us started on the three-ingredient cherry sauce.)

9. Skillet Peach Cobbler

A one-hour dessert that leaves minimal dirty dishes behind? Pinch us, we’re dreaming. Cobblers are a cinch to assemble, considering there’s no kneading or rolling required. (Biscuit topping FTW.) All it needs is a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream.

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...