Planning a great dinner party takes more than just good food, it also involves details: Food combinations, food presentation, timing, food choices, decor, flowers, table settings and more. Here, we’ll give you ten tips to creating an unforgettable dinner party.
Think about your Guest List
Try and invite friends that share similar interests and hobbies. This will help conversation to flow easily and will put guests at ease as they will all have something in common. Of course, this isn’t always possible so when introducing guests to each other (if they don’t already know each other) make sure to give a little background info about the people you are introducing. For example, you could say “Bill, I’d like you to meet Emma. Emma and I are training for the comrades together”. This gives some sort of conversation starter or ice-breaker if you will.
Flowers can spice up a room or table setting. Buy two or three different types of flowers and make sure you have various vases or jugs to put them in. Place a few flowers in a small glass in your guest bathroom and perhaps an arrangement in the entrance area and then some flowers on the table. Make sure that the flower arrangements on the table are not too big otherwise it will be difficult for people to see or talk to each other whilst having dinner.
Make sure your Guest Toilet is presentable!
This is a small detail that often gets overlooked! Make sure your bathroom has enough toilet paper – you can always store extra in a beautiful basket. Make sure there is handwash and hand cream as well as hand towels, a dustbin and tissues. As mentioned earlier you can also include a mini vase of flowers in the bathroom to add some colour. You can even light one or two tea light candles and place them next to the basin for an extra touch.
Select Fine Wines
Once you have decided on your menu, visit a wine boutique or do some research on the web to find out the best type of wine for your menu. If you really want to get fancy you can serve a different wine with each course but this will definintely take some research and is only worth it if your friends are wine enthusiasts.
Think about how you are going to garnish your main meals and plate them. Will you be able to plate the meal yourself or will it be easier to allow guests to dish up themselves. If you have some extra help, then style the food, garnish and serve a plated meal. For a more laid back affair you may want to have guests come and dish up themselves. Also think about what dishes you have to serve food on/in. If you plan to offer cheeses – do you have an appropriate cheese board and if you are serving dips – do you have appropriate containers to put them in?
Prepare what you can
Planning a dinner party is a lot of work, so you should try and prepare as much as you can beforehand. Buy the groceries and drinks the day before. Then on the day of the party, start preparing well in advance – prepare any salads, sauces, dishes etc so that you can enjoy a drink with your guests when they arrive (as opposed to slaving over a hot stove).
Time your Snacks and Courses
Serve snacks quite soon after guests arrive and depending on how well everyone is socializing, plan to serve the first course after about 45 minutes to an hour. If guests are socializing well and you can see that people are not “ready” to eat, then you may want to wait a little longer – you be the judge. If you are serving snacks as well as a starter, make sure the starter is small and light. Don’t make it too big otherwise no one will enjoy mains and dessert. Wait about 15-20 minutes before serving the main course and then a bit longer before serving dessert – wait at least 30-45 minutes before serving. You don’t have to serve huge portions for dessert, in fact a small portion beautifully decorated can often go down better than a huge bowl of dessert, especially after a large main meal.
Get Creative with your Table Settings
Browse through food and decor magazines for ideas on table settings. You can base your setting on a theme eg. asian/hawaiian or you could simply choose a colour theme and select your table decor and flowers around that scheme. If you have more than 8 people for dinner make sure that you have at least 2 sets of salt and pepper dispensers so that guests don’t have to stretch! Also make sure that the cutlery is polished and the wine glasses are clean ie. no watermarks.
Design & Test your Menu
Make sure that you have tested everything on your menu and are confident in making every dish. If you know what you want but do not have the experience or time to make it, then order it from a restaurant, deli or Catering Company
Use Trestle Tables
For an intimate dinner party use trestle or rectangular type tables! Why? Well, they are simply better – They allow for easier conversation and are elegant and stylish. With round tables however, it is usually quite difficult to hear and talk to people as the table spreads people out quite a bit.