Dinner parties – I’ve hosted many and I’ve been to countless, I love them!
Great food (don’t worry, with my pasta burning ability – it’s never me cooking) and drink, excellent conversation and wonderful friends. I love creating a new environment for my friends to come and enjoy!
Let’s not beat around the bush, hosting can be stressful! That’s why being super organised and keeping even the tiniest of details in check are key to hosting the perfect dinner party.
The basics for any kind of event planning are simple but advance planning and being super organised with even the tiniest detail make the end result far less stressful! Initially it may seem simple, but believe me, putting in the advance planning will make it much easier to pull off. Here are a set of tips you need to know about throwing the best dinner party ever, darling:-
- Set the tone! First and foremost – let’s decide what kind of dinner party you want this to be! Is it to be chic and formal, no-frills rustic or just an all-out raucous party with food? This has to be number one in your planning process so the rest can fall in to place.
- Create a guest list As you have already decided what kind of affair this will be, you will no doubt have an idea of the guests that will be on your list! The number of guests is equally important – too few and the conversation can be limited, too many and it becomes more of a party than a dinner! You also need to make sure you can actually accommodate the number of people you are inviting. And number one for me is make sure the people who are coming get along (or are likely to if they don’t know each other).
- The RSVP Pick a few dates that don’t clash with any other event and float them to your guests! Having an open date increases the likelihood of guests being able to attend. Advise guests of the type of occasion they will expect this to be, the dress code and, crucially, the time at which they should arrive by – don’t be ambiguous.
- Catered or DIY: engaging a caterer, though pricey, can make life so much easier. There are different levels of catering – from simply supplying the meals ready to be cooked to a full turnkey service inclusive of waiting staff and equipment. Of course, the personal touch is always appreciated and admired by guests but it does involve a lot of preparation. And also time away from guests during the party itself (and there’s no way I’m missing out on the party!).
- Set the mood: Seasonal flowers, extravagant centrepieces, foliage and candles are all great additions to any event to create ambience but keep it subtle and classy (i.e don’t throw all of these on your table and hope that it looks good – it won’t!). If you’re hosting a dinner party outdoors, work with your surroundings – go rustic! Of course, candles are always a good idea whether inside or out. Candelabra, tealights, hurricane lanterns – the options are endless! Just make sure no one will be reaching over a naked flame. Trust me, nothing kills the mood more than a guest’s hair catching fire!
- Choosing your equipment: No need to hire in gold cutlery and beaded charger plates but matching crockery, glassware and cutlery is always a winner in my eyes! The options for glassware are endless and do depend on the formality of the occasion. From champagne flutes and wine goblets to water tumblers and aperitif glasses. My number one rule with wine glasses is they must be large so the wine can breathe and stretch its legs (not so you can fit more wine in there!). If you are going ultra-formal then you will want to have a different wine glass size for the different wine colours.
- The perfect table: If you don’t have a large dining table that will accommodate all of your guests then hiring in is the best option! You want your guests to be comfortable while they’re eating so make sure there is space between each setting.
- Menu planning: This could really have a post for itself as it is quite the endeavour. 3 courses, 5 courses, 7 courses…. whatever you are doing the menu you choose should match the tone you have set. So whether you have chosen silver service, formal dining or family style where everyone digs in and helps themselves. Make sure the food fits this.
- What is food without beverages? Make sure your wines match the menu you have chosen! Google is your friend here! The main thing is you choose good wine/s and if you are serving red meat, you will need a red wine with plenty of character! Want to add something extra special? Pare wine and food carefully to complement each course. Tasting notes never go amiss or go one better – hire a sommelier!
- Check dietary requirements: Believe it or not, even those with allergies or strict dietary restrictions do not always volunteer this information so request this along with the RSVP! Try not to get in to food likes and dislikes though. It is a dinner party, after all, and not a restaurant. If guests are attending, they will enjoy whatever you serve.
- Music: For me, this is a key element that is too often overlooked! Whatever atmosphere you are looking to create, music is the magic that creates it. Any awkward silences (of which there are few when I’m around) are filled when you have a good playlist! Spotify is great for specially curated playlists for any occasion. My husband Cem loves to DJ in his spare time so thankfully he takes care of that side of things when we host. And if we’re lucky he will get on the decks himself later when the party really gets going!
- Dress to impress: Remember you are the host, it is your objective to look fabulous! Plan your outfit in advance so you aren’t scrambling around at 5pm for something to wear. Of course, my glam squad would be called in too. It takes all of the stress out of getting ready!
Now you’re ready. Go and host the perfect dinner party!