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13 simple ways to make your dinner party amazing!
Keen to throw a sophisticated soirée worthy of winning Come Dine with Me? Make your dinner party the best yet with this advice from experts in the know...
According to cake and pastry experts Coppenrath & Weise the most important consideration when planning a dinner party is not about what you cook, but who you’re cooking for. Choose your guests wisely and don’t invite people who clash or are argumentative, it will cause an unpleasant atmosphere that not even perfect food could save!
Invite people well in advance so they can book baby-sitters and feel at ease when they arrive. Also, consider planning your event for a Friday night so you’re forced to get organised during the week and have the rest of the weekend to recover!
Don’t expect your guests to bring wine, it’s poor form, so make sure you have your wine list in order when you do your food shopping.
Selecting the right look for your dinner party will create a lasting impression. “The main themes we’re seeing at the moment in tableware is a playfulness with colour and pattern,” says Sylvia Oakley, stylist for Villeroy & Bosch. “Now’s the time to experiment with mix and match tableware which you probably already have at home. If you choose an all-white dinner service however, try adding in a brightly coloured runner or chargers to bring some life to the table.
“Consider your table arrangements,” says chef, Rachel Green. “Try to keep the flowers or decorations seasonal and don’t make them so high that your guests can’t see over them! Have several pots down the table and incorporate vegetables and flowers into the arrangements: chillies and cabbage leaves work well, or use little jam jars tied with ribbon and filled with wild flowers as quirky place name settings.”
Add finishing touches to the table with sparkling glassware that has been carefully selected for the wines you will be drinking. A jug of water and water glasses should also be placed on the table before everyone is seated. Add a slice of lime, orange or lemon to the water to bring some colour.
“Don’t be over ambitious with your menu,” advises chef, Rachel Green. “Don’t cook something you haven’t done before. If you want to try something new, practise it first and try not to prepare food which needs to be finished last minute otherwise you won’t see your guests.” Rachel Green hosts pop-up suppers at Wold Cottage, Lincolnshire www.rachel-green.co.uk
Don’t ruin peoples’ appetites with nibbles and canapés. If you offer too many pre-starters, people will never sit down and you’ll end up rushing the meal, or skipping the pudding, cheese course or coffee.
Remember, you’re not a chef or restaurateur,” says Jason Freedman, chef patron at The Minnis. “People don’t want all the spots, swirls and clever touches that you get in Michelin-starred establishments. They want nice food and good company.”
“Consider dishing up food on serving plates in the middle of the table, and invite your guests to help themselves,” advises Fred Sirieix. “This makes the food a talking point, and passing plates around the table encourages sharing and conversation.”
“There are some common foods that can divide opinion, so if you’re concerned about fussy eaters avoid those with a strong, distinctive flavour, such as anchovies or olives,” suggests Maille’s gourmet concierge, Fred Sirieix . “Also, some palates aren’t used to spicy food, so go light on the chilli if you are catering for guests with blander tastes.”
Select the right music to fit with the mood of the evening, something quiet and calming will create a cosy atmosphere and allow guests to chat and feel at ease.
“In the event of a kitchen disaster, ensure that you have some store cupboard essentials on standby to whip up an alternative,” adds Fred Sireix, “have some ready-made pastry, and good quality cheese and onions to hand to whip up an onion tart for starter or main course. And some fresh fruits will transform your pastry into a delicious tart for dessert.”
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