Located near the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, Gatlinburg offers a picturesque backdrop that’s perfect for hosting dinner parties, no matter what occasion they’re in honor of. Whether you’re planning a cozy gathering with close friends or a lavish affair, the combination of Southern hospitality and mountain charm found in Gatlinburg provides a unique setting that promises an unforgettable experience. This guide will walk you through essential steps to plan a memorable and enjoyable dinner party in this scenic town.

Tip 1: Choose the Right Venue

The first step in hosting a dinner party is choosing a venue that not only accommodates your guests but also fits the party’s theme. Gatlinburg offers a variety of venues from luxurious banquet halls to intimate cabins and outdoor spaces that showcase the natural beauty of the Smokies. Consider the number of guests and the style of your party when selecting a venue. An outdoor venue can be ideal for a summer evening, offering stunning sunset views over the mountains, while a cozy cabin might be perfect for a smaller, more intimate winter gathering.

Tip 2: Set a Festive Theme

A themed dinner party not only makes the planning easier but also makes the event more exciting and memorable. Gatlinburg’s rustic mountain setting is perfect for themes like a highland feast or a woodland retreat. Alternatively, you can opt for a classic Southern elegance theme, complete with mint juleps and a bluegrass band. Whatever theme you choose, make sure it resonates with the location and adds to the overall ambiance of your dinner party.

Tip 3: Selecting a Caterer

Good food is at the heart of every successful party. When it comes to catering Gatlinburg TN offers a range of talented professionals who specialize in local cuisine. You’ll find options like Holston’s Catering, renowned for their customized menus and excellent service. Discussing your menu preferences with your caterer is crucial; they can help tailor the offerings to match your theme while ensuring the highest quality.

Tip 4: Plan Your Menu

Working closely with your caterer, design a menu that complements your theme and pleases the palate of every guest. Whether you opt for a traditional Southern barbecue or a gourmet five-course meal, incorporating local flavors and ingredients will enhance the dining experience. Consider seasonal specialties and local favorites like Tennessee BBQ ribs or trout fresh from the mountain streams. A well-planned menu will not only satisfy your guests but also immerse them in the local culture.

Tip 5: Consider Dietary Restrictions

It’s important to consider the dietary preferences and restrictions of your guests to ensure everyone has a wonderful time. Early in your planning process, reach out to your guests to ask if there are any allergies, dietary restrictions, or preferences they have.


Communicate these details to your caterer to accommodate these needs. Options like gluten-free, vegan, or kosher meals can be planned if known in advance, ensuring all guests enjoy the party without hesitation.

Tip 6: Perfect Your Playlist

Music sets the atmosphere for any event, and your dinner party in Gatlinburg is no exception. Choose a playlist that complements your theme and enhances the natural ambiance without overwhelming conversation. For a rustic mountain theme, soft bluegrass or country tunes could be perfect. Alternatively, a playlist of classic jazz can add a touch of sophistication to a more formal dinner. Ensure the volume is set to allow for easy conversation so your guests can enjoy both the music and each other’s company.

Tip 7: Decor and Ambiance

Creating the right ambiance is essential for setting the mood of your dinner party. Decorations should complement the theme without overshadowing the natural beauty of Gatlinburg. For instance, if you’ve chosen a rustic theme, use natural elements like wood, burlap, and wildflowers in your decor. Lanterns and fairy lights can add a magical touch to evening gatherings, especially outdoors. Pay special attention to table settings; elegant placemats, candles, and thematic centerpieces can transform a simple table into a sophisticated dining space. Always consider the comfort and visual experience of your guests, ensuring that every element of decor contributes to a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Tip 8: Prepare a Welcoming Entryway

The entryway sets the first impression of your event, so make it count. A well-decorated entrance will not only welcome your guests but also excite them about the evening ahead. Use signs, floral arrangements, and thematic decorations to signal the theme right from the start. If space allows, consider a small welcome drink station where guests can pick up a cocktail or a non-alcoholic beverage as they arrive, setting a relaxed tone for the evening.

Tip 9: Organize Fun Activities

While food and conversation are the main attractions, having planned activities can enhance the experience. Activities should be light, fun, and inclusive, serving as icebreakers that encourage interaction among guests. Make sure the activities are optional, allowing guests to participate at their leisure without feeling obligated.

Tip 10: Provide Comfortable Seating

Comfortable seating is crucial for ensuring your guests can relax and enjoy their time. Arrange your seating to facilitate conversation, perhaps in a circular or semi-circular pattern if space permits. If you’re hosting a larger party, consider multiple small seating areas to encourage mingling among guests who may not know each other well. Also, be mindful of accessibility, ensuring that elderly guests or those with mobility issues can move easily between tables and other areas of the venue.

Tip 11: Have a Plan for the Weather

When planning an outdoor dinner party, always have a backup plan that accounts for weather changes. Renting a tent or having an indoor space available can save the day if unexpected rain occurs.


Additionally, consider comfort elements like outdoor heaters for cooler evenings or fans for summer nights. Informing your guests about potential weather conditions and recommended attire can also help them prepare and ensure their comfort throughout the event.

Tip 12: Send Guests Home with a Memory

End your dinner party on a high note by giving guests a small party favor that reflects the theme and location of your gathering. Local crafts, homemade treats, or a personalized item can make for memorable gifts that keep the spirit of the party alive. For instance, a small jar of locally sourced honey or homemade preserves can be a sweet reminder of the evening. Ensure these favors are thoughtfully chosen and presented beautifully, as they are the final touch to your wonderful event.


The essence of a successful dinner party in Gatlinburg lies in embracing the local charm and ensuring meticulous attention to detail. From the initial selection of the venue to the final goodbye, each element should reflect thoughtfulness and a desire to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Enjoy the process of bringing your vision to life, knowing that your efforts will result in a delightful experience for you and your guests.


Grandma Elle is well-known for her commitment to healthy cooking. She believes that good food should be made not only with delicious ingredients but also with sustainability in mind. Grandma Elle’s food is focused on whole grains, fresh vegetables, nutritious proteins and of course, lots of love!