Holiday Entertaining

A No-Stress Way to Make the Smallest Gathering Feel Special

Renting your dinner setting is easier than ever (bye, dirty dishes).

December 21, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Much is uncertain about this holiday season, deep as we are in the second year of a pandemic that has thrown a wrench into social gatherings of all kinds. Omicron is racing around, and it’s looking like a lot of the “going out” plans are suddenly turning back into “very much staying in” plans. Whatever you’re doing, like death and taxes, one thing in life is certain: There will be a lot of dishes to deal with.

If you’re having a cozy New Year’s feast for two, or a smaller at home dinner party rather than your big holiday plans, you can still have it be special and different. This year, rather than worrying about dusting off your fine china, or doing the same old same old linens, why not…rent your party tablescape? It might sound opulent, like we-only-do-that-for-weddings, but in fact a number of companies have popped up that offer just that service. You rent your plates, cups, forks, knives, tablecloths, and napkins, then scrape off your plates, dump out the champagne flutes, and return it all. Like Rent the Runway, but for your kitchen. No muss, no fuss—all your party pieces get dropped off to your door and returned the same way. And you don’t even have to deal with the dishes.

Here are a few places that can make that dream come true.

1. For the Whole She-Bang: Social Studies

This go-to party planning destination, founded by film producer Jessica Latham and her childhood friend Amy Griffin, has a vast array of different party vibes to choose from. There’s Dutch Floral and Hygge Holiday, and even just an Essentials collection in Black, Teal, Grey, White, or Sage, if you’d rather keep it simple. You choose the number of place settings you need and schedule a drop-off and pick-up, and the party accoutrements—including salt and pepper shakers, vases, and votive candles—get sent to your door in a stylish blue cooler. (Social Studies ships nationwide, too!) Every party also includes helpful hints and a playlist, and you can add on customized menus and place cards, too.

For New Year’s this year, Social Studies has teamed up with events planner Guerdy Abraira and champagne brand G.H. Mumm to offer a champagne fête in a box for $98, including edible gold dust, party horns, a champagne stopper, and, of course, plenty of champagne coupes. They’ve also done fun collaborations with Ketel One Botanical and Absolute Vodka. And, of course, if you fall in love with any of the items you rent, they’re available to buy on the Social Studies site, too.

2. For a More Minimalist Approach: Table + Teaspoon

A rental company that focuses on “accessible entertaining,” Table + Teaspoon offers six different packages to choose from, depending on the size and vibe of your party, all in zero-waste packaging. Each of them comes in a box that includes a table runner, dinner plates, wine glasses, candlesticks, flatware, and menu cards. It costs $24 per place setting, and arrives at your door a couple days before the party, all so you can pack it up and ship it right back after the event is done—no laundering the linens required.

3. For the Party Investment: Casamia

If you like the idea of having a party in a box, but you’re less interested in the whole “returning it after you’re done” part, Casamia is a good way to go. You choose one of their six tablescape options, which come in 4- or 8-person settings, and they include everything you need, from napkins to wine glasses. Some items, like plates and wine glasses, you keep; others, like place cards and menus, get tossed.

4. For the Linens-Focused: Freshly Set

This rental company specializes in designer placemats, tablecloths, napkin rings, and napkins, so if you’re all set on the flatware and stemware end but your table could just use a little extra zhush, Freshly Set is the place to head to. Rather than presenting you with bundles, Freshly Set encourages à la carte renting, so you can mix and match patterns to your heart’s content. And, rather than fussing over washing them, you just pack them up and ship them back so that they’ll be sent along to the next party, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-style.

Have you ever tried renting your dinner table essentials? Would you do it again?

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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Margaret Eby

Written by: Margaret Eby

Editorial Lead of Food, Food52