Throwing a dinner party may seem like far too much stress and work, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. I’ve found that I much prefer having all the girls round on a weekend, usually a Saturday day or evening, and play hostess with the most-ess for a few hours!
Hosting a get-together meal at home with friends and family can be fun and relaxed – all you need to do is plan. And plan properly! It’s so much more fun than dining out, because you can literally save money, and not feel like other diners are ‘in the way’ a little.
I’ve started to regularly host get-together’s at my house, all centred around girls, fizz, food and laughs. Here are some tips for how to throw a memorable dinner party that both you and your guests will enjoy
Stick to what you know and cook smart
It’s tempting when throwing a dinner party to pick an elaborate selection of impressive dishes, but the reality is that these meals require a lot more time spent in the kitchen. And you don’t want to miss out on the all-important ‘chat time’ by slaving over the stove.
By the time your guests arrive, you’ll just want to dive into conversation and catch-ups. Instead, choose a menu of dishes that you know how to cook well and that can be made ahead of time, so you can enjoy the evening. II always find sharers are good – either afternoon tea style sandwiches, cakes and scones, or pizzas, garlic breads and pasta dishes.
It’s also be a good idea to read some blogs about cooking party food before you start the process. Companies like Ideal Party, have tons of useful blogs for planning party food.
Think carefully about the presentation
Food for a dinner party doesn’t have to be fancy to be delicious, but there are some easy ways to lift your presentation of a dish to make it a bit more special.
From a sprig of herbs on top of a bowl of soup, to a drizzle of olive oil on pasta or a spoon of sour cream on chilli, there are plenty of ways to make food look more appetising, no matter how simple it was to prepare.
Or, you can even get proper afternoon tea style stacking plates if you’re serving up this type of food, or just lay out special plates for cakes! And don’t forget flowers and candles too to set the ambience…
Prepare the equipment
Feeding a crowd is difficult enough, without trying to find gravy boats and corkscrews at the same time. You’ll be surprised how much smoother the night will run with just a bit of preparation.
From getting your chopping boards ready to setting the table with plates and cutlery, it pays to be organised and make sure you have everything you need within easy reach before everyone arrives.
Check for allergies
There’s nothing worse than planning your entire menu and spending hours in the kitchen, only to discover that one of your guests can’t eat what you’ve prepared.
Before you decide what to cook for the big night, check ahead with your guests to see if they have any dietary requirements or intolerance’s, so you can be sure that you’re cooking dishes that everyone can enjoy.
Keep drinks simple
While cocktails are delicious, they’re also time consuming to make and not as easy to keep guests’ glasses topped up with. Make life easier on yourself and choose simple beverages – a choice of red or white wine, beer and a selection of soft drinks for the drivers.
If you do decide to offer cocktails, because lets face it, girls love them, stick to just one or two options, so you don’t spend the whole night playing bartender and missing out on all the fun. And pre-make them in a jug, so when anyone needs a top-up, you can just pour away at the already blended mix.
Create a welcoming atmosphere
It’s not just about the food – a dinner party is as much about the company and the atmosphere as it is about the menu. Create a friendly and relaxed environment for your guests by putting on some music in the background and lighting some candles to create a nice ambience.
The same goes for the host – if you’re stressed, your guests won’t feel as relaxed, so just relax and don’t sweat the small stuff.