I just love to have friends and family over for the evening. Sometimes we have quite a formal dinner party event to make the evening extra special. Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking more and more about what makes a great dinner party. Is it just the food, or is it really all about the company? Here are a few of my thoughts about the secrets to a great dinner party.
If you’re inviting people into your house to spend time with them, chances are you know them pretty well. Use this to your advantage by planning the evening around their likes. If they prefer not to eat meat, then plan your menu accordingly. If they’re on a diet, then offer lighter options. Keeping everyone happy from a mixed group is challenging, but having a plan can help.
When it comes to hosting a dinner party, you can often feel like you’re left out of all the fun. You’re usually busy in the kitchen while they’re seated at the table nattering away. A kitchen-diner helps you stay in the social circle at times like this. If you don’t have one, why not invite your guests into the kitchen for an aperitif? Of course, if this is likely to add to your stress levels, then leave it out. Serve cold starters instead, so you can prepare it before guests arrive.
Your menu choices may determine which wines work best. When you buy wine online, you can often find out more about the bottle than if you picked it up in the supermarket. Some people only like red while others will only drink white, so be sure to have both whatever dishes you are serving. There are some really lovely alcohol-free wines available now as well. They’re a great choice for guests that have to drive home.
When you are serving your main course, be sure to put out extra servings of everything on the table for guests to self-serve. Sometimes it’s nice to let guests know to help themselves when you put it on the table. This is better than pushing extra helpings when people have finished. It saves you breaking into conversations at the table too.
If you are nervous about hosting a dinner party, it can be handy to list one or two topics of conversation to get started. Keep them personal to the guests, like asking how a new job is going, or if a poorly relative is feeling better. If you need to introduce guests, use their common interests. They might both enjoy the gym, or have holiday homes in Spain. It doesn’t take much to get people started.
The secrets to a really good dinner party is preparation and supply. Prepare the menu, the company, and the cooking. Supply the food, the wine, and the conversation starters. It sounds simple, and it can be with practice. Keep your cool in the kitchen if things don’t quite go to plan, and always have something you can use for a backup. Finally, enjoy your evening, enjoy your guests, and enjoy the food.