Guide to a successful dinner party


While it is nice to believe that there are hard and fast rules to staging a successful dinner party, the truth is that a memorable night among friends is more noted for how it develops naturally.

Good conversation and company will invariably spark ideas for games or perhaps a group outing to a nightclub. The dinner party is the foundation on which the good times are built.

However there are some recommended guidelines that go a long way towards setting the perfect dinner party atmosphere. Even employing two or three will do the trick, as it were, but again it is important to remember that these can be adapted to however a host sees fit.

Pre-dinner cocktails 

Inevitably drinks will flow for the duration of the evening, but preparing something a little special like martinis for everyone will create a sense of occasion. Wines, either white or red depending on the meal served, will of course be offered, but a welcoming beverage of a different kind is bound to get people talking.

Make the dining room ‘sing’

A dinner party brings friends together, but in a way that is different to a spur-of-the-moment braai. Not only is it a planned event, but guests will expect that the host has gone out of their way to pull out all the stops (well at least as many as their budget can muster). Seating guests in beautiful dining room furniture is a great way to ease them into the evening, and they will appreciate any effort made in decorating the room properly.

Background music

It stands to reason that like-minded people will enjoy the same music, but a dinner party is not the time or place to see how long it will take for the cat to lose its mind over high decibel level. Something ambient, or even classical if that is the group’s speed, is recommended. The important thing to remember is that whatever the genre, it does not drown out conversation.

A meal for all

While a host may want to cater to everyone’s tastes, the reality is that it becomes too pricy to do so. Vegetarianism is very popular these days, but it hardly takes any extra effort to prepare a vegetarian version of the main dish. Lasagne works well as both a meat-based and vegetarian dish, for example. Provided the meal is not more reminiscent of a day-old petrol station dinner-for-one, the main should go over a treat. The opportunity to eat anything homemade these days will always be relished.

Clean up tomorrow

The last thing guests want to see is a host who bustles them out the door in a hurry because there are heaps of plates and dishes to tackle. The intention of a dinner party is for everyone to enjoy themselves, so worry about the mess tomorrow. Again the party should follow a natural course, and not dissolve due to time or washing up concerns.