Hosting a dinner party for your teenager and her friends should be an enjoyable event that you orchestrate together. You and your teen should both decide on what food, table settings and what level of formality you want the dinner party to be, because you two might have contrasting views of how the evening will run. Do not be afraid to make adjustments, as necessary. Remember, the ideal dinner party your high school student dreams of likely differs from the event you held for the Women’s Auxiliary or the Garden Club just last month.
Place Settings and Silverware
If the dinner is a formal affair -- before a dance or some other major event -- do not be afraid to you use high-quality china and formal silverware. Many, but not all high school students, will have experience using delicate items appropriately, by this point. Having said that, if you had rather not to use your formal flatware or sterling silverware, choose something like ceramic plates and nice stainless steel flatware. Keep the pieces of flatware to a minimum; for example, you can include a salad fork and a dinner fork and you will not confuse the dinner guests.
Tailor the serving style, based on your teen's specifications. This can include hiring a reliable younger sibling to serve each course individually; or, if this feels too formal, arrange the food Thanksgiving-style and let the teens help themselves. If table space is tight, arrange a buffet on the side of the dining room, for a less formal dinner.
If you are certain that every member of the dinner party gets along with the others -- and your teen wants the whole nine yards complete with place cards -- then feel free to assign seating. Have your teen help you make cards by folding card stock in half and writing the name in cursive, using a felt-tipped pen. If you and your teen are especially skilled at stylized lettering, use a calligraphy pen. Otherwise, let the teens choose their own seating arrangements. You can also have your teen give each guest a place card when they arrive and let each person choose where to set it on the table.
While you probably do not need to serve foie gras or stuffed crab, do not underestimate teens' developing taste buds. Now that your high school student and her friends are well past the phase of only eating white food and powdered mac and cheese, aim for a dinner menu that is elegant but not overly exotic. For example, serve a mandarin orange salad with light Italian dressing and baby spinach. Seltzer water with a splash of orange juice and a squeeze of fresh lime or sparkling cider are refreshing non-alcoholic beverages. Chicken breast or steak can be dressed up or down, but avoid anything covered in barbeque sauce or anything greasy, because your teen and her friends will likely be wearing somewhat formal attire. Better to serve vegetarian dishes like vegetable lasagna or spinach and ricotta stuffed shells. Have your teen double check if any guests have food allergies.