how to entertain in 2014

The New Year has arrived, and with it comes a bevy of predictions about what to expect in 2014. Our favorites come from experts in exciting industries like interior design, fashion, art and technology.

While the future is anyone’s guess, cultural trends are a wealth of inspiration for the modern hostess. We’ve culled the predictions from experts across the web to find the trends most likely to influence your entertaining decisions in 2014. If you want to host trendsetting events this year, then these are things you need to know when planning your parties.

Party Planning Gets Personal

According to craft retailer Michaels, the art of handwriting will be making a reappearance in 2014. This is a continuation of popular trends like hand-sketched illustrations and chalkboard art, but expect it to take on new forms this year.

handwritten invitation

Incorporate this trend into your party by eschewing evites in favor of mailed invitations addressed in your own handwriting or, for more formal occasions, calligraphy. While sending a handwritten invitation for an intimate dinner party is feasible, writing out custom invites for a large retirement party is beyond the scope for most of us.

Instead, party planner David Stark recommends combining the convenience of technology with the warmth of a personal message, “Sometimes we’ll send a digital invitation, but then we’ll send a hand-written note as a reminder, letting guests know we can’t wait to see them there.”

Color Trends

According to the color experts at Pantone, the Color of the Year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid. “It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple … a captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.” The designers at Sherwin-Williams are in agreement, naming their favorite color for 2014 Exclusive Plum, “a sophisticated violet” that balances “cool blue and feisty red with a splash of gray.” Both pair well with the many shades of green, blue and turquoise currently trending among designers and highlighted as top accent colors for the coming year.

When choosing party decorations, incorporate hues like lavender, orchid, indigo and turquoise into your color palette to take advantage of this burgeoning entertaining trend.

lavender and gray dessert table

This lavender and grey dessert table from Amy Atlas, photographed by Johnny Miller, combines several shades of purple with a cool, neutral gray for a color palette that is nearly monochromatic. The soft tones are sophisticated enough to work for many different occasions, like a birthday party or bridal brunch.

purple and fuschia tablescape

You can set a table with bright colors like fuchsia, orange and orchid to infuse any event with a festive party spirit. Amy from Living Locurto decorated her birthday with pops of energetic color that made turning 40 fun.

red orchid tablescape

Modern Wedding celebrated Pantone’s color of the year in a special photo spread filled with Radiant Orchid inspiration. This table combines lush purple hues with bright red and pink, creating a romantic tablescape that exudes love.

Egyptian-inspired table

Paired with a vibrant shade of turquoise, hues like orchid and plum take on a more jewel-like appearance that is rich and bold as seen in this Egyptian-inspired table by Petalicious Flowers.

Décor Trends

Decorating is an intensely personal subject filled with varied opinions, yet still there is consensus among the experts on several trends. Look for light woods with natural grain, oversize floral prints, large-scale geometric wall paper, Asian-inspired accessories and new animal accents in 2014.

Test out this year’s hottest looks by letting the top 2014 interior design trends inspire your party decorations.

botanical dinner party

Yeti and the Beast set out reclaimed wood serving trays with bamboo plates and utensils to bring the fresh feel of natural wood to this botanical-themed party table photographed by Meghan Sadler. Light wood looks lovely paired with this season’s beautiful floral prints, or even real flowers.

floral paper lanterns

Update your paper lanterns from last summer with this year’s prettiest trend. Christy of One Handspun Day offers instructions for beautifying outdoor lights by adding floral fabric and a touch of pastel paint.

cherry blossom tablescape

Kate Webber photography captured this cherry blossom tablescape which mixes elements from 2014′s top trends: Asian-inspired cherry blossoms and rustic wood.

On a side note, several lifestyle experts have also written treatise on trends that need to go in 2014. Several, including blogger Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary’s Club, put chevrons on that list. The next time you’re choosing patterns for your party—whether it’s a table runner, napkins or a pennant banner—think beyond the chevron and try herringbone or flame stitching as suggested by Tastemaker.

Food & Drink Trends

Many upcoming food trends take their cue from recent years. Health foods are expected to make a strong showing on most menus, influenced by increasing interest in foraged foods.

Another idea we’re loving is the introduction of more all-natural convenience foods, a category termed speed scratch. Thanks to movements like this, a busy hostess can prepare a delicious, healthy menu without spending all day in the kitchen.

In addition, here are some other delicious ideas for better menu planning in 2014.

exotic meat charcuterie

A charcuterie of exotic meats will tempt guests to experiment with never-before-tried flavors. Many fine grocery stores are starting to stock unusual meats, or check out Honest Food for a wonderful primer to help you learn how to cure your own meat. Photo by Holly A. Heyser.

wild garlic biscuits

Farm to table is so 2013. This year’s eyebrow-raising edible is foraged, a style of cooking which takes native or invasive plants and stirs them up into something unexpectedly delicious, like these Wild Foraged Garlic Biscuits by pastry chef Sarah Villamere. Photo by Yossie Arefi.

Beeroness pulled chicken sliders

Booze you can bite into will delight foodies this year. Trends that started with desserts like adults-only milkshakes and boozy marshmallows, will continue to grow with more food-drink combinations on the horizon. The Beeroness has this recipe for Pulled Chicken Sliders with a tantalizing beer and brown sugar sauce that can be made in a slow cooker—a big time-saver for busy party planners.

basil gin smash

Now that the craft beer movement is firmly established, craft spirits are the new rising star. Artisanal spirit makers are making quite a splash with the cocktail crowd, so much so that even major manufacturers are launching new lines of small batch booze.

In addition, bartending legend Dale DeGroff expects more artisanal gin to join the shelves of handcrafted rum, vodka and tequila this year. Try a Basil Gin Smash from Food Fanatic with your favorite specialty gin to get an early start on 2014.

chamomile whiskey cocktail

Teetotaler takes on new meaning this year. Even when it’s green, tea is the new black, and it’s popular in everything from food to cocktails. This Chamomile Whiskey Cocktail is one example that is easy to make in advance so you can spend more time mingling with guests.

lemon blueberry ice cream sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches are predicted to be the top dessert for 2014. Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based hospitality firm Andrew Freeman & Co., even predicts they will replace cupcakes as the “in” dessert this year. Try a homemade version to capitalize on the gourmet trend, like these Lemon and Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches from Shutterbean.

The hottest trends from every genre will always tend to cross-over. The season’s best parties will inevitably reflect what’s walking down the runway, playing on the radio and being served in the top restaurants. We expect 2014 will bring plenty of new inspiration from these sources for another great year of party enjoyment.