Who says dinner has to be boring?

by Mia Cárdenas

Dinner party lover and hospitality rock star Mary Giuliani began her eponymous catering business in 2005 in New York City and owns, along with her husband, Ryan (and another couple), the glorious Woodstock Way Hotel. For those not in the know, the chic, rustic hideaway is tucked behind the Tannery Brook Waterfall and the sound of water permeates every corner of the property.

So, we wondered what were Giuliani’s rules for a buzzing dinner party? Break the rules. Inspired by the natural beauty of Woodstock, she’s plonked dining tables in the middle of creeks and gathered guests beneath trees for epic feasts. Whether your canvas is the great outdoors or a standard dining room, Giuliani offers five tips to get the party started. 

  1. Make sure the food is fun, approachable and inclusive—but also exclusive. The meal should tell a personal story about why the particular type of cuisine is being served.
  2. Always mix up your table with a diverse group of guests who wouldn’t normally be eating dinner together. “Like the street vendor from [New York City’s] 33rd Street who I invited to one of my dinner parties.”
  3. Include fun surprises. “My grandmother would put gag gifts under the table. When things got quiet, she’d tell everyone to look under their seats.”
  4. Strike an interesting balance between high bar and low bar—maybe serving hot dogs on fine china.
  5. Don’t make overcomplicated drinks. Give your guests a few choice cocktails and wine, or, for ease of clean-up, opt for an all-can bar.  

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