More and more people are deciding to stay in and entertain these days, due to ever increasing restaurant bills and the cost of cinema tickets, you can fork out well over £50 for a night out. And when you consider the many £10 for Two Dine in Specials the supermarkets are putting together and other meal deals, it’s not surprising that people simply will not spend exorbitant prices when there is a cheaper alternative. Not that we are all cheapskates, it’s just that we want something to show for our bucks and these days we are prepared to work a little ourselves to get it. With this in mind, the trend is now to host dinner parties, but not the old style ones. These are far more relaxed and although food is important, the emphasis is definitely on getting friends around and having fun. So we’ve put together some simple tips to make sure that not only are you the host with the most, but that people will be asking when your next dinner party is!
Make it easy on yourself
Food wise that is. As I said, it’s not all about the food. Basically, the food is the reason to get people round but it’s not the reason for you to get stressed out so keep the menu simple. A starter that can be prepared before like soup that can be reheated at the last minute is ideal. Or a salad with marinated meats and fresh bread, anything that you can just bung together but that with a few last minute flourishes, such as a drizzle of dressing, or a dollop of cream is fine. The main can be a one pot wonder, particularly in the winter, but make it a classic such as coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon, and keep the side dishes simple too but the ingredients fresh and locally sourced. If it is in the summer then have a main of a huge fish such as salmon that can be kettle cooked or roasted and serve with a fresh salad and help yourself bread. Anything that people have to pass around is a nice touch, it gets them talking. Puddings again I would suggest that this is something that is prepared in advance such as a panna cotta with fresh fruits or even a cheese board with grapes.
Make sure that your table looks fabulous and you can do this in a number of ways. Using a table runneris a lovely way of grouping items such as the condiments can be lined up along one side and the wine glasses can also be put on the runner. You can have a colour theme and introduce this primarily with the runner but enhance with fresh flowers in the middle and throughout your house. Also having two areas where your guests can sit is important as you do not want them standing around the table before you are ready to serve up dinner so make sure that the lounge area is equipped and cleaned before they arrive. Plump up cushions and arrange the same coloured flowers in the lounge area, move seats to face each other if you have to and bring in extra seating if there are not enough. Enhance lighting with some lovely scentde candles. Create subtle seating corners for intimate conversations by grouping chairs and tables together.
We all like to think that our wit and wisdom are enough to carry any dinner party through all night but here we should also remember our failings and turn to some other form of entertainment, so plan what you are going to do throughout the night. It is good to get a game going, one great way to start the evening and this does seem to get your guests talking with each other is to pick a guessing game. You would have previously written professions, or movie stars, or body parts, or any type of listing on individual slips of paper. For example, professions may include, gardener, lawyer, dentist, etc. Then you pin the profession to the guests back, making sure he or she has not seen it. Once all your guests have their professions, they are told to ask five questions to five different people about who they are. The first person to guess is the winner and you can give them a small gift such as a lottery ticket. This is a fabulous way to people talking, especially if they have just met.
The most important thing you can do when you are hosting a dinner party is to make your guests feel welcome in your house so remember, big smile at all times and nothing is too much trouble!