From 17th May, we've been able to mix inside again and finally have our pals round for a dinner party. However, chances are it's been a long time since you've had to cook en masse and those nice plates in the cupboard? Guessing they've been totally forgotten about…
The idea of hosting is most likely feeling quite daunting right about now. But don't worry: here are 10 top tips to make the evening a breeze.
1. Plan your menu (including your cocktails)
Preparation is key. Being short on time can leave you panicking, and a lack of inspiration or ingredients will have your dishes falling flat. A dinner party recipe box is the perfect solution for this!
All of the planning is done for you at On The Table. We box up sustainable, small-batch ingredients and deliver them to your door with a step by step sharing recipe and video tutorial so that you can spend less time sourcing and more time gathering around great food. Check out our feasting boxes here to take the stress out of planning your dinner party menu. There is also an option to have natural wine paired with your meal, not to mention the batch cocktails on offer.
2. Ask the producers
If you decide to get your ingredients from the local butcher or fishmonger, lean on them for advice. Ask them which cuts are best for the dish you'd like to cook as they may be able to point you in the right direction, and it'll make you look like a pro. Once your stocked up, we urge you to head to Melissa Thompsons website (@fowlmouthsfood on Instagram) to get some proper inspiration for the menu, don't get us started on her BBQing skills.
3. Make a playlist
Music can automatically make your guests feel relaxed and at ease, so here's what to do. First, think about the kind of occasion you're having and what will work with it the best. For example: if you're having an alfresco lunch in the garden, then you can't go wrong with a bit of chilled jazz or some reggae. If it's an evening, indoor affair with candles and champagne (ooh la la), then Motown is always a winner. Remember to get your playlist on before your guests arrive so that you don't have to worry about changing the music. That way, you can let your hosting juices flow. Our favourite go to right now is
4. Lay the table
Tablescaping has become increasingly popular of late. Having an eye-catching table really lifts the aesthetic for your occasion and gets your guests talking. There's a lot out there when it comes to glasses, plates and placemats, so sometimes it can feel quite overwhelming. Our top tip? Set the table with an interesting tablecloth (Amuse La Bouche do hand-painted one offs) get yourself some colourful plates (Hot Pottery do some lovely ones, or try Monoware for a more minimal look) and some flowers to start with. Get yourself some nice wine and cocktail glasses, and you're good to go. Have some jugs of water on the table ready for your guests, and add some lemon to the water for flavour, too. For some mega table inspiration, you can head to cool Instagram accounts like @kirthanaa, @rumbieshearer or @hostelondon.
Handpainted tablecloth - Amuse La Bouche
5. Flowers make a room
Flowers light up a room and make the space smell fresh. They're also a great addition to a tablescape to really complete a look. So that you don't block people's vision, get seasonal flowers and divide them into smaller vases. If you spread about 3 small vases across the centre of the table, it will have a creative and impactful look while still being practical.
Seasonal weekly flowers - Petalon
6. Keep the drinks flowing
Offer your guests a drink on arrival, whether it be a non-alcoholic beverage (Lucky Saint) or a nice glass of organic wine. Try to understand what your guests like to drink beforehand to ensure your fridge is stocked up and avoid any last-minute corner shop runs. Even if you don't think it's going to be a boozy night, it may well turn into one (been there…), so if it's cocktails you want to offer, then there are a few great batch cocktails on the market. Blacklines Drinks make some delicious batched cocktails in 500ml bottles, including Negroni, Margarita and Espresso Martini.
7. Nibbles on arrival
Your guests might arrive hungry so make sure to have some nibbles at hand, whether that's on the dinner table or on a coffee table. Olives work really well, as do dips and good quality charcuterie. This can also double up as a small starter, which can totally take the pressure off.
8. Have a dinner party game to hand
If the conversation starts to run dry, a fun dinner game can always save the night. Whether it be Cards against humanity that will have your guests in hysterics, or What do you meme? , another hilarious game, it's best to have a few in the drawer ready, just in case you need a pick me up.
9. Outsource the dessert
Everyone loves dessert, and if you really want to end the occasion on a high, then we recommend grabbing some that are pre-made. After all, you can't do everything! Try sweet treats from Dee, who owns and runs Dees Basement. Her cakes (she makes a cinnamon apple crumb cake box, which is divine) and madeleines are all handmade and absolutely stunning. If you're looking to impress without having to make a dessert, then Dee is your girl.
Chocolate painted madeleins - Dees Basement
Inspired to start hosting again?
Planning a dinner party and need some help planning the menu? Choose from 6 restaurant-quality recipes with produce from local, small-batch producers, delivered to your door here.
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