Is it your turn to host your friends and family this month? While dinner parties certainly require some preparation, the run up to your soiree doesn’t have to be stressful. To help you, we’ve compiled some top tips – direct from our kitchen to yours – that will ensure your event runs as smoothly as possible:
The first thing to consider when throwing a dinner party is this: do you have enough free time in your diary to adequately prepare for it? It’s all well and good agreeing to host 12 guests but be realistic about when they can come – and how much you can get done before they do. At the very least, give yourself a couple of weekends prior to your party. By doing so, you’ll have more than enough time to check if any guests have any dietary requirements, plan the menu, consider entertainment and discover the perfect wine pairing. If you’re interested in more about wine pairing, we’ve compiled some simple Wine Pairing Rules to get you started.
Pro tip: think carefully, not just about the dishes you’re serving, but about how well they complement one another. For instance, your guests might not want to eat a pastry starter, followed by a heavier, pastry main. You may also decide to opt for a theme for the evening – Italian or Indian, for example –which will help you pull together your menu, the canapés and the wine.
It’s the Little Things
Found yourself with a little extra time just prior to your evening do? Consider the little things which may make all the difference, like making your own bread for the soup, or even whipping up a few homemade canapés. If the idea of adding a tiny bit of work to your schedule (for maximum pay-off) doesn’t scare you, dive right in. If you are in need of a little canapé inspiration take a look at Luke French’s recipe for Wild Sea Trout and Linseed Cracker, which will be sure to delight your guests.
Ask for Help and Prep in Advance
When it comes to the preparation, it isn’t a failing on your part if you have to rope in a few people to help. Whether it’s your partner, your kids, even your neighbour, many hands make light work. If you can, choose dishes that you can do a majority of the cooking before your guests arrive. The last thing you want to do is be stuck in the kitchen all evening leaving your guests to entertain themselves.
Here are a few of our favourite cook in advance side dishes:
You’d be surprised at how a small addition to your meal – homemade, rustic-looking croutons or cheese straws to accompany the soup, perhaps? – can make a huge difference to how it looks on the table. So, why not choose simple dishes which can be improved easily with a few, clever little touches? Also, in terms of presentation, what you serve your food on can really make a big impact. A roast potatoes brought to the table in a beautiful roasting tray or individual side dishes served in mini pans to each guest are really eye catching and impressive.
Be ambitious – Show stopping Recipes
If you’re keen to impress, choose a recipe that will really ‘wow’ your guests. These Hasselback Roasted Potatoes are a nice twist on the usual roast potato and they can be prepared the night before, just leave them to soak in the fridge overnight. Or try this recipe for Sea Truffle Salt Baked Chicken by Michelin Star Chef Brad Carter is not only a delicious recipe, but Brad also includes instructions on how to serve it so beautifully too.
Say ‘Yes’ to Seasonal
If you’ve yet to decide on a theme, go seasonal! Autumn and winter are the perfect time for game, for instance – and here on the blog we’ll soon be sharing some recipes you can try out easily at home. Impress your guests with your cooking prowess and try something different in the process.
And another thing…
Don’t forget to decant your wine; it’s about the little things, after all. The Wine Spectator has some top tips for storing your favourite tipple or two, with decanting offering two key benefits. One is the fact that it separates wine from any sediment which may have formed. The second? It aerates a wine to release its flavours and aromas – yum!
What are your top dinner party tips? Let us know by commenting below.