A complete guide to host the perfect dinner party!
Blimey, its Tuesday already!? You’ve had this dinner booked in for months but time has slipped by and now you’ve got to prep for the soiree of the year and you’ve only got a few days to do it! Well don’t fret; our complete guide, put together by professionals who have been hosting parties since 1999, is here to take you through all the do’s and don’ts of hosting the perfect dinner party. One that will wow your guests and leave them feeling quietly envious of your prowess.
Step 1: ASSIGN FRIENDS WITH TASKS
Do yourself a favour, lighten the load. You’ve enough on your plate as it is. The house needs tidying, food to buy, babysitters to arrange, a new outfit to dig out. Get your guests to contribute, it doesn’t have to be much. A bottle of wine here, an appetiser there, a dessert, maybe a murder mystery!? Get them involved. Not only does it help you tick some bits off your list, but they feel like they saved the day with their granny’s old Pavlova recipe.
Step 2: PREPARE IN ADVANCE
Now, we know time is running short, but the WORST thing you can do is leave everything to the last moment. You want to enjoy your evening, you don’t want to be a flustered mess, worrying about whether your friends husband is gluten free, or was it vegan? Where did you put the nice glassware? You want to ooze a calm confidence. Hosting a dinner party is light work for the likes of you. To pull this off you need to put in a couple of hours here and there over the next few evenings to get the fundamentals ready, so everything runs like clockwork on the day. Chop some veggies, do your food shop online, heck, lay the table if you feel like it. Make sure you know exactly what everyone can and (more importantly) can’t eat – the ‘oh ****’ moment when you realise your risotto isn’t dairy free is enough to give anyone sweaty palms.
Step 3: AMBIENCE
Any restaurateur worth their table salt will tell you that the key to a quality dining experience, other than delicious food and 5-star service, is atmosphere. Lighting, music, scent and decor. You could even pick a theme (who doesn’t love a dress up!?). You’re not in a semi detached in Milton Keynes, you’re in an inviting hideaway somewhere in the Riviera. It’s amazing what a bit of mood lighting and smooth jazz can do. Just maybe whack the heating on if you’re going for the Mediterranean vibe. Although with rising utility bills perhaps pretending you’re in the alps might be a better idea, and have them arrive in their fancy ski attire.
Step 4: VARIETY
The real key to wowing guests is giving them something they’ve never seen before. After all, you’re the exotic one. Now, I love carrots and hummus as much as the next person, it’s a safe bet but get CREATIVE. Dig out some recipe books, think outside the box. Even better, source locally, it’s a great talking point when you can say ‘my neighbour grew those radishes’ or ‘that wine is actually from a British vineyard’. Your guests will be in awe of your resourcefulness. If you can work this into your theme, even better. BUT, no need to overdo it. We all want to put on the buffet to end all buffets, but we don’t want enough food left over to feed the five thousand. If you find yourself reaching for the 13th multipack of sushi rolls, maybe think again. No one loves sushi that much.
Step 6: The C WORD
COCKTAILS. We love them, you love them. They are the ultimate flex at any dinner party. If you can pull off a few delicious cocktails on top of the exquisite food and the heavenly atmosphere, then you are officially the host(ess) with the most(est). Take it from us, there are many pitfalls that any would-be host will fall into when putting together their very own mini cocktail menu. Singapore Slings, Porn Star Martinis, Pina Coladas – they all look great on the menu, but they require time to prepare, space, specialist equipment, not to mention experience. Without these you can end up making a god-awful mess, and potentially ruining your carefully constructed exhibition of cool-headed hosting. Do yourself a favour and go SIMPLE.
You can make excellent cocktails with 2 or 3 ingredients, that don’t require a bar full of crazy equipment or any prior experience in cocktail making at all. You can find a great list of simple, easy-to-make-at-home cocktails here or, better yet – let us do the hard work so you don’t have to, and you can get back to the all important hosting. This way you have consistent fuss free drinks every time, and your guests can still pull out their best Tom Cruise moves with shaking them into life. And you don’t have to worry about buying every ingredient that will inevitably collect dust on your shelves or go to waste. So keep your fancy menu but without any of the hassle and show these guests who’s boss around here. Buy your pre-made cocktails here.
Step 7: ENJOY YOURSELF
These steps are designed to make your evening as stress free as possible. But you know what? If you have to, forget the rest of it. This is really the only important part. You want to spend time with the people you love. You want to have a laugh, play games, reminisce about old times. No hosting crown is worth sacrificing this for, no matter how good those bragging rights feel. This evening is yours too! Have a good time.
You got this, we believe in you, and we’d love to be tagged in your amazing hosting skills at your event just to see how well you concurred.