If you’ve ever seen Bridget Jones’ blue soup, the thought of hosting your own dinner party might make you a little nervous! However, string colour disasters aside, if you want to host a dinner party, you totally can! This guide aims to explain exactly how.
First things first, you might need some help! Perhaps you have a partner or boyfriend that you are hosting the dinner party with, or housemates. If so, be sure that you divvy up your jobs and tasks properly. If you’re going it alone, how about asking one of the attendees to come a few hours early. Even if you want to do the cooking alone, a friend can help with things like laying the table and prepping drinks.
However, before the day itself, you’ll probably need to go shopping for your ingredients and other bits and pieces. Take a list with you, and don’t just shop from memory. If you do the latter, you are sure to forget something. The last thing you want is needing to do a last minute dash for basil a few minutes before the first guest arrives! Before you get started on your cooking, lay out every single ingredient and tool on the side. This way you will clearly be able to see if you are missing anything crucial. It might even be wise to do this once the night before your dinner party.
When it comes to deciding what you will cook, resist the temptation to try something totally new. Of course, if it is really basic, you can give it a try if you want. This might just be some fresh buffalo mozzarella topped with sliced plum tomatoes. But if it is anything more complex than that, go for something you’ve made before. Even having made it just once before helps to have weeded out any issues. Of course, if you are a meat-eater, you may have never made a vegetarian dish in your life. But what if you have a vegetarian attending? Or what if you have somebody with a different dietary restriction, like a nut allergy. In these cases, it probably is best to practice their meal at least once before!
Once you’ve decided what you are going to serve for starters and main, you can decide what you’re going to serve for dessert. This is one area of the dinner party where you have free rein about whether you buy the dessert or make it yourself. If you want to buy your dessert, go for it! It may give you more time to focus on what you do for your main. Alternatively, of course, you can make it yourself. One of the great things about certain desserts is that you can make it a few days before. If it is an ice cream based dessert, you can make it the day before and keep it in the freezer. Or, if it is something like a lemon or chocolate cake, this will stay lovely and moist even for a few days. Whatever dessert you go for, set aside five or ten minutes for final bits of presentation. Even just some freshly sliced strawberries fanned around the top of your cake or bake can look lovely.
Of course, one of the best parts about a dinner party is the fact that you all get to sit around a big table together! Invest in some tablecloths to protect the table and to give you a blank canvas to work from. It also means that you are protecting the table if you want to have candles that may drip wax. Candles are a great addition, especially if your dinner party is in the evening or on a dull winter evening. Don’t forget your place settings. Serviettes are a great way to add a little color or design to a table. You could even personalise each place setting with a unique way of writing their name. How about getting out your old Scrabble set and writing out names this way? Or simply fold over some small pieces of card and write on them with a metallic pen. Once you have your tablecloth, place settings, and candles, see if there is any room left for a vase of fresh flowers. However, don’t forget that you are going to need some room for the food itself. Also, ensure that nothing rises too high in the table. Otherwise, it may block people’s view across the table. You’ve given thought to the light in one way, by placing candles on the table. But also give some thought to the other light sources in the room. If you can dim your lights, great, just don’t make them so dim that people can’t see their food or cutlery!
So, all of the above is done, and there are 10 minutes until your guests begin to arrive. Here is what you need to do at this stage! Light your candles, dim your lighting and ensure there are no unpleasant cooking smells in the eating area. Place a couple of jugs of iced water on the table, each with a few slices of fresh lemon and lime in them. Put your sauces and seasonings on the table; if it’s Ketchup, pop some in a nice little bowl instead of putting out the bottle! Put some salt and pepper on the table too, so your guests can season their food as they wish. Turn on some music. This might be a playlist that you’ve prepared in advance, or it could be one pre-made by the likes of Spotify. Alternatively, just play a favourite CD. Just make sure you get the volume right. Too loud and your guests won’t be able to chat comfortably. Too quiet and you might as well not have it on when people start clattering plates and cutlery!
Last but not least, take a breathe! All of the hard work is done now; all that is left is to serve and enjoy! Oh, and make someone else do the washing up! You deserve a break and a big pat on the back!