How to throw the perfect dinner party
Do you consider yourself a bit of a Masterchef? Want to show off those skills to your friends? Here are some of our top tips to hosting a charming and memorable evening.
Consider your guest-list
Remember the age old rule: “Never mention sex, religion or politics at the dinner table”? The truth is, nowadays, this rule is usually forgotten- expect no topic to be off limits. While this can make for a lively discussion, it can potentially cause problems. If you don’t want your charming evening spoiled with a war of words, avoid inviting guests that have strong or opposing opinions.
Similarly, don’t invite people you already know do not like each other. While you may feel bad leaving someone out, it is not worth making the evening uncomfortable or awkward for everyone.
Before planning your menu, check with guests regarding any restrictions i.e. allergies, gluten-free, vegetarian.
If your guests have never been to your home before, give them a tour on arrival. Be sure to point out where they can leave their coats and bags, and the bathroom.
Pick a theme
It does not have to be outrageous, just a simple idea which will help all other plans fall in to place. For example, for a formal dinner think indoors, low-key lighting and candles, wine, fine china, and hearty food.
With daylight savings and warmer weather kicking in, opt for a simple spring/summer BBQ outdoors. Start off with cocktails, a light salad and then serve our BBQ Tuna for the main.
For a punchy, summery starter I love this Spicy Mango Salsa by Ming Tsai paired with some tortilla chips.
Usually hosts centre their theme on food.
Choose a cuisine; Italian, Thai, Mexican, Greek, Indian or Japanese. Team this with authentic music, table settings and decorations i.e. decorate the table with Japanese blossoms.
If you are up for a challenge try a featured ingredient i.e. one ingredient is used in each course. It is harder than it sounds!
Choose meals that involve pre-party preparation. That way you get to spend more time out of the kitchen relaxing with your guests.
Avoid choosing a meal you have never cooked before- the dangers don’t really need explaining. Having said this, don’t go too conservative. Nobody wants to be served something they have had a hundred times before.
Have a little fun by getting the guests involved in the food making. Try sushi or pizza. Buy some pre-made pizza bases, tomato paste, cheese, and a variety of toppings for guests to choose e.g. pepperoni, olives, and mushrooms. Whack them in the oven and sit back while your creation cooks! Tip: purchase a Pizza Stone from nearest kitchenware store (e.g. Victoria’s Basement). Sit the pizza on it in the oven for a more authentic finish.
While it is commonly acknowledged that guests bring a gift for the host such as wine, it is better to be on the safe side. Pick a wine that will compliment the food well, or if you are having a cuisine-themed night choose some traditional drinks i.e. sangria for Mexican, Saki or green tea for Japanese etc. Make sure there are also non-alcohol options available.
It is a good ho
sting technique to make sure your guests never have an empty glass.
Have a jug of ice water on the table.
Hopefully your dinner party will flow and be fun without any prompting. However, particularly if your guests don’t know each other well, there is the danger of awkward silences. Think of some questions you can ask each guest which may lead into a bigger discussion.
Simple party games like “Celebrity Head” or “Never have I ever” can be entertaining and informative!
If you have a friend who is quite musical, invite them over for a little performance. Guests will appreciate the extra effort.
While not vital, parting thankyou gifts are a great way to round out a nice evening. Have copies of the recipes you used in case guests request them, or try something small like a candle or after-dinner mint.
What do you do to make a dinner party special?