I LOVE hosting dinner parties! Me and Dan may be young professionals – however Dan’s a young professional with a very young business, and I’m a young professional with student debt (boo)! Although the thought of eating out a few times a week fills me with delight – in practice, I much prefer the atmosphere (and price) and hosting dinner at home. It’s all we do. Every weekend we’re either at a friends house for dinner, or we’re hosting dinner. It’s fun!
With that in mind, I’ve learnt a thing or two about hosting dinner parties. I’ve thrown some great ones, and some not so great ones. Here’s some of my tips to a successful evening in, with friends:
Check that dinner won’t kill your guests
You should ALWAYS check the dietary requirements of your guests. If they have a life-threatening allergy, you’d hope they’d tell you – but just to be on the safe side. Also, are you guests veggie, do they need to eat gluten free? Heaven forbid you should have a vegan round for dinner… every meat-eating hosts worst nightmare.
Make sure your guests don’t have to pretend to like your food
Some people have weird food hates. I’m not great with seafood. I can eat fish but shellfish and weird stuff with tentacles… I can’t stomach it. We all have foods we don’t like – so if you’re cooking something a little adventurous, make sure your guests will like it first.
To bring wine or not to bring wine
Those adept in dinner partying will know that it is etiquette to ask if you should bring anything, such as wine or dessert, if you’re going to someone’s house for dinner. If your guests haven’t asked – give them a nudge and tell them to bring something to drink, you should never have to supply everything on the table.
Dinnerware and setting your table
A nice meal deserves nice serve ware, and lovely guests deserve a lovely table spread. You should invest in nice serve ware, glasses, cutlery and tableware – it makes such a difference. I always layout placemats, wine glasses, small tumblers for water (I have some new pretty ones), napkins and cutlery. Layout nibbles is a great way to create an informal setting too, as are ‘help yourself’ style meals, with plates piled in the middle for everyone to serve up their own food from.
No death metal. No trance. No dirty drum and bass. Stick to easy listening and keep the volume down – you want to be able to hear your guests speak. If you want some easy listening music, try something like Bonobo or Quantic.
Prepare as much as you can in advance
I LOVE watching Come Dine With Me. The thing lots of contestants fall down on is spending all night in the kitchen, rather than with their guests. That’s why you should prepare as much as you can in advance of your guests arriving – or in the first 30 minutes of them stepping through the door. Why have friends round for dinner if you’re too busy to speak with them? Plan your courses wisely and be prepared!
Once your main is on the table – RELAX
When your main meal… the centerpiece of the evening, is on the table – this is your cue to relax. Dessert should be made and ready to serve, meaning that you can take a few glugs of wine and chill the hell out (unlike my Mum who was terrible at this, she’s stand up and pick at her food in the kitchen whilst clearing up – this is a huge no no).
Don’t drink and cook
You get lazy with measures and lose track of time when you’ve had a few drinks. Don’t start sipping on wine until the bulk of your meal is out of the way… otherwise it could all go horribly wrong!
Never thrown a dinner party before? Start with something easy, like a nice pasta and salad dish and a simple cake you can bake in advance and start from there :).
Hayley Jayne xx