The dinner party is back! ….as is the brunch party or lunch! It’s all about entertaining our friends in the privacy of our home, where they can be relaxed and mingle. For some, there’s the excitement of cooking a meal that friends will talk about for months! But it isn’t only about the food! A dinner party with a complex menu, well executed can still turn out to be a disaster with the wrong crowd. And yet I’ve been to a few parties with simple menus and had such an enjoyable time….wine glass in hand, feet tapping to the music!
What makes a great party? Fun people, interesting conversation, tasty food & drinks and the right atmosphere, often inspired by good music. But achieving all of the above requires some planning and organisation. Here’s my checklist of to-dos.
The occasion – Is it your BFF’s birthday party?…. a Hen’s night? Reconnecting with college mates OR cooking for your boss and his wife? Each occasion – different type of crowd – different mood and table setting, food and drinks, music…..lots to think about!
The guest list – One of the best things about a good party is the conversation. The right combination of people is key! Put your guest list together before planning your menu so that you can allow for any dietary restrictions. Check on their availability to make sure the party is happening!
The menu – Dinner parties aren’t the best platforms for culinary experiments! I try to stick with tested recipes, or new ones if it’s simple enough. No need for a 5 course meal ….often times, less is more! Work within the constraints of your kitchen. Buy some, make some. Give yourself time to be at the dinner table with your guests. Drinks also form part of the menu and should not be neglected!
The plan – Once the menu is established, list out the different ingredients, what needs to be purchased, what needs to be made and what needs to be assembled and when. Go for variety and balance in your dishes.
Looking beautiful – When you invite friends over, you want to look like you’ve got it altogether….lovely home, cozy atmosphere, impressive table setting, gorgeous hostess! To avoid additional stress, start stowing your things away the day before, dressing up the dinner table, bringing out your special cutlery. When your guests arrive, be beautiful!! Wear something lovely but be practical….. no Kaftans or long flowing sleeves because you’ll either get gravy on them or knock down a few wine glasses.
In all your preparation steps, keep in mind that your friends really want to see you and be with you. Drinks and welcome snacks is a great idea as guests will arrive at different times. I like to get dressed before plating my h’orderves because I know i will lose the plot once the wine starts flowing. And the party begins….enjoy yourself!!
Photo credits: Featured image from Kaboompics.com; Cutlery image from picjumbo.com; other photos were taken during a Supper Club event at Celina’s home.