There’s that moment when you’ve finished preparing your home for a dinner party. The guests have yet to arrive but you’ve got all that nervous energy and adrenaline coursing through your veins, a nervous anticipation that no amount of Pinot Grigio can alleviate.
In that moment, it’s perfectly natural to worry … but with these tips, you can sit back and relax until your first guests arrive (there’s always one couple who arrives early). So say goodbye to your frazzles and apprehension and set up the perfect dinner party, every time.
Get the right furniture
Brosa’s Grace dining chairs give off a classic charm (Picture courtesy of: Brosa.com.au)
By far the biggest investment but also the most rewarding (you get to reap the benefits each day) is your furniture. Picking the right styles and colours can make or break the overall ambience and atmosphere of your dinner parties.
Of course it isn’t realistic to ask you to change your entire inventory of furniture. However, your dining table and chairs – the place you and your guests will spend the most time – is crucial.
If you’re happy with your current furniture, that’s cool too. Don’t be scared to be bold and rearrange your furniture for the night. Or if you’re strapped for cash, a great trick is to invest in some moody lights and combine these with some tabletop candles – turning off the overhead lights. This sets a much better vibe.
A festive dinner party in full swing
Your dinner party will get off to a flyer if you have a well-stocked bar, perhaps a DIY bench or cart devoted to drinks. Dedicate a space just for drinks and make sure you’re well stocked up with a mixture of wines, beers, spirits, mixers and tasty non-alcoholic alternatives.
You’ll want to stock up on ice too; no one likes a warm mojito. And make sure you’ve got a couple of bottle openers, some tangy garnishes and enough glasses to go around.
Drinking goes well with music so make sure you’ve got the right tunes to match. This double CD we reviewed a while back is a great accompaniment for a classic dinner party.
The food itself
If you’re anything like me, you’ve had a few mishaps in the kitchen that have set you back a couple hours. Don’t worry, I’m sure most of your guests have similar stories. The trick here is to have ample and diverse snacks to sate your appetite.
We could write a book on the best types of food to serve at a dinner party. But since we have neither the time nor the resources for such a book, here are a couple of recipes to get the juices flowing. Asian summer fish is a delightful summery dinner, light and tangy and sure to be a crowd pleaser. This roast duck with plum compote is another sure fire winner.
Envisage a flow
If you’re lucky enough to live in a house with multiple entertaining spaces, make sure you’ve planned out the natural flow to the evening.
Start drinks in the living room, maybe get a few guests to help in the kitchen, move guests to the dining room, have dessert in the study. Constantly moving is beneficial for two reasons. It keeps your guests entertained (with different stimuli in each room) as well as abandoning all the mess from the previous rooms.
Goodbye goody bags
They say first impressions are the most important but having your guests leave on a high, after a thoroughly enjoyable meal hopefully, is always a winner. Try putting together goody bags for everyone and hand them out as your guests leave.
No need to go overboard: a scented candle here, a leather-bound notepad there and you’re set. Leave a little space for Tupperware, in case your guests love the food so much, they want to take some home.
Article by guest author