Great design, no matter what the medium, is inspirational. Design permeates life, because great design is about an experience, not just an object or service. One of the experiences that I enjoy is cooking. Well, both cooking and eating!
One of my kitchen tools, a Shun knife set, contributes greatly to the experience of cooking, because while the objects themselves function very well, they also honor a legacy of craftsmanship, and are themselves desirable objects.
I have a block of Henckels as well, which are in themselves decently designed and functional, but when I hold a Shun knife in my hands, I am inspired to make my cuts more accurate, my timing more precise, my knife-work better achieved. This is what separates good design from great design: great design enables the complete experience.
When you throw a dinner party, even if you do not prepare the food yourself, you are the designer of the experience. Your guests' enjoyment lies principally with your ability to engage them from start to finish, much of which is found in the joy of your friendship. The rest (the event itself) isn't something to fear; design does not need to be complicated or ostentatious, in fact, the best design is often the simplest.
Just like a product, your guests first impression of your party is yours to control, and when you invite them in a way that sets the tone for the entire event, it is just like using a fine piece of cutlery: you find yourself inspired to go just a little bit further, make their experience a little bit more exceptional, and take a little bit more care in every aspect of your party.