How to Throw a Great Dinner Party
If you’re lucky enough to be a foodie with like-minded foodie friends, the thought of throwing a dinner party has probably crossed your mind. You’re relatively confident in your culinary skills and you’re quite the conversationalist, but the pressure of putting together a lovely evening can be daunting. Here are some top tips on how to plan a dinner party to be remembered.
- Choose a theme.
While you might have certain dishes that you’re dying to share with friends, they might not necessarily go together. Try to avoid the temptation to cross-cuisine your friends. They probably won’t enjoy a Thai prawn skewer followed by fish and chips followed by forest fruit pavlova. The theme will help you structure the evening, too. For example, if you go with a Spanish theme you might want to lay out some antipasti for your guests to nibble on to stop the tummy rumbling if things get a little haywire in the kitchen. You can try a variety of pork dishes as well, if that’s your taste, like a pork loin roast (get the recipe here). However, do try sticking to your theme.
- Plan your cooking times out efficiently.
Obviously you’ll have to remember which dishes need to be slow cooked for eight hours and which elements of your dessert will need freezing overnight, but try to remember what hob and oven space you’ll require while the guests are there. You don’t want to find yourself with a full oven and no room for the main element of a dish. Nobody wants to end up with a plate full of side dishes, do they? Try to keep in mind how quickly things will cool when you’re taking things off the heat. Catering for a group is different to cooking for yourself. More food means more time plating up. Take things that will cool quickly out last. Top tip: heat the plates in the oven to slow cooling down.
- Impress guests with garnishes.
Even though your dishes are delicious, consider presentation. You want your friends to be taking pictures and showing off your lovely evening, finishing touches on dishes can add a lot to your guests’ perception of what to expect from a dish. Seeing a lovely looking dish leave the kitchen is far nicer than seeing something sloppy. If it looks bad, they’ll expect it to taste bad. Take advice from restaurants: wipe plates clean of spills, try to get hold of some micro herbs to sprinkle on dishes and strategically dust a little icing sugar over your desserts. It’ll make a world of difference to the dish.
- Think about the atmosphere.
Believe it or not, it’s not all about the food! People enjoy the atmosphere at a restaurant because it’s very carefully planned out. Restaurants spend a lot of time considering the lighting, music and temperature of the venue. Take a leaf from their book and decide whether you’d like some background music. Perhaps think about whether you’d like a candlelit dinner or try out the look of fairy lights. You might want to test which lighting allows you to see your food. Figure out what temperature is appropriate for the dress code you’ve set. Cold guests can’t enjoy their food properly!
Most importantly, try to enjoy yourself. Guests don’t like to see a stressed host, it makes them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. Plus, what’s the point throwing it in the first place if you’re not going to enjoy it? Other than, you know, being a show-off.