Throwing a dinner party for your friends can be both exciting and daunting, especially for those of us who are not Bree Van Der Kamp from Desperate Housewives. To throw a dinner party that everyone remembers takes more than simply serving delicious food, it is also about the atmosphere and the enjoyment of the evening as a whole. If you are planning on asking your friends over to share a meal with you, read on for helpful advice on how to throw the perfect dinner party.
Plan your menu carefully
Planning your menu is one of the most important aspects of hosting a dinner party. Rather than choosy greasy, large-portion dishes, rather opt for elegant finger foods as starters and light, healthy dishes for mains and desserts. For after-dinner drinks, offer guests a Nescafé Gold cappuccino or a warming sherry.
Your food should not make your guests feel too ‘heavy’ after eating, but they should feel satisfied and sated. Include hors d’oeuvres of fresh cherry tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and basil on sticks or salty prosciutto wrapped around sweet melons. By keeping the starters and appetisers light, you can plan a slightly heartier main dish. Remember to choose dishes you have cooked before – now is not the time to experiment on your guests.
Welcome drinks make your home welcoming
When you are planning your dinner party, you should also plan to offer your guests welcome drinks. In cooler weather, a selection of Nescafé cappuccino packets or a pot of freshly made tea are great choices to have available.
On warm spring nights, you should offer your dinner guests a delicious cocktail or a chilled glass of wine. Welcome drinks make guests feel special and welcomed as if you have been thinking about them all day (which, you have been, although in a more stressed capacity!). Keep glasses filled throughout the night too, and be sure to provide different options for wine, beer and other spirits to ensure that all guests are catered for.
Pick a good group
The type of people you invite can set the tone for the evening. If you are planning on having a fun, light-hearted evening then invite your closest girlfriends, but if you want to have a more grown-up affair to impress the in-laws, perhaps leave your girlish banter for another evening.
That being said, the guest list should not be restrictive. Picking close friends and relatives is a good option for a fairly hassle-free dinner party but do not be afraid to throw in a wildcard and invite a friend from your office who has some interesting stories to tell. It is important that everybody ‘gels’ well together and that there is not too much talk about sensitive subjects, such as politics or religion. Keep the talk light, friendly and entertaining.
Choose a theme
One of the most effective ways to set the mood for your dinner party is to choose a theme. This does not mean that you should plan as if it were a child’s birthday party (princess crowns and cowboy hats are not a good look for adults) but that you should choose something to focus the evening on.
You could theme your dinner party as ‘shabby chic’, and use mismatched crockery and cutlery with burlap runners over a lace tablecloth. You could opt for a stunning vintage affair, using heirloom porcelain to serve your meals on… the options are only as limited as your imagination. It is important not to go too far with your theme in the way of decor. Keep it simple and understated, using elements of your theme around your dining room rather than making it seem carnivalesque with clutter.
When guests arrive, be entertaining… not cooking
It is important that as your guests start to arrive, you are able to entertain them rather than having to rush back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen. This means planning, preparing and cooking your menu well in advance to ensure a smooth-running evening.
If you absolutely have to be in the kitchen, be sure that music is playing, snacks are out and that guests have full glasses before you leave them to their own devices. You could even leave out party games for guests to entertain themselves with, but be sure that you are not spending too much time in the kitchen and too little time being a helpful and pleasant host.
Become the toast of the town
Throwing the perfect dinner party involves more than just a sumptuous meal, although that is the goal of the evening. You will need to consider the ambience and decor of the evening. Using candles to create dim lighting can help to set a relaxed mood, and don’t forget that scents can change the feeling of a room. To throw the perfect dinner party, every detail must be taken into account in order for your guests to have a fabulous and unforgettable evening.