Dinner parties are a microcosm for life. Managed well, they bring people together. Managed badly and they expose awkward differences. Both scenarios reflect on the host. Science doesn’t back me up, but I’m sure dinner parties are the reason we get stomach ulcers. Yet, they don’t have to be stressful. It’s all in the planning. Let me give you ten essential steps that will make your next dinner party a success and keep those ulcers away.
Everyone knows that careful preparation prevents avoidable problems. It also gives us time to fix the unforeseen ones. Make a checklist and put everything on it. Especially the often forgotten things. Have you cleared your medicine cabinet of what you don’t want your friends to see? Is it stocked in case someone has an accident or becomes unwell? Where will you store your guest’s coats? They might seem trivial, but they’re often the problems that cause the most grief.
How you invite people into your home says as much about you as the party itself. Whether formal or informal, guests need to know the date and time, the dress code, and if their diet is catered for. Get it right the first time.
Guest’s who can’t eat from your menu won’t enjoy your party. It’s not enough to know if someone is a vegetarian. Are they vegan? Gluten intolerant? Does Religion factor? Annoying a guest by serving them an offensive dish isn’t a good look.
Do you know your wine? If not, do some homework. There’s plenty of places online to help you choose the best wine for your menu. Don’t underestimate the importance of pairing. Good food becomes great with the right wine.
5. Music Playlist
Dinner parties need a melody. The rule of thumb is to find music that decorates the air without intruding on the conversation. That means avoiding heavy metal and grunge. And, of course, on no account play Englebert Humperdinck. Ever.
The table is the heart of your dinner party. If you’re unsure how to prepare one then have a look online for inspiration. Does your table have a centrepiece? What does it say about you and your party’s theme? You need one that your guests will admire.
‘Wow’ should be your guest’s response when they see your table for the first time. It won’t be because you’ve measured the distance between the place settings. It’s the decorations that catch the eye. Consider something like tea light candles or flowers. Make your table come alive!
8. Crockery and Cutlery
Your crockery should match, be clean and free from chips or grazes. Your guests will notice. After all, some of the party involves them staring at their plates as they eat. Your cutlery should match too, and be appropriate for the dish. Not all your guests may notice, but some will.
9. Wine Glasses
Why find the right wine then serve it in the wrong glass? It’s not a good look. Dartington Glasses are a particular favourite of mine. They grace any table. My guests love them.
10. Don’t Be a Stranger
Your guests came to share a meal with you. If you frequently leave the table to do things you could have prepared for, they’re going to think they’ve intruded on you at work. Refer to my first point. Prepare.
There’s much to do before, during and after dinner parties, but they needn’t be a chore. Follow this advice and you’re sure to create a triumph. Your guests will leave your home happy and content.