So a couple of Friday-nights ago, you were having a wild one - sitting on the couch with your fourth (no judgement) glass of wine, a face mask on, and scrolling through Pinterest looking for some new home decorating tips. That totally sounds like us. We adore Pinterest. The magical (yet malicious) thing about Pinterest is that it can make you believe that you can create a gorgeous home, dress beautifully, bake a themed cake, and host an incredible dinner party all in one weekend and you can do it with perfectly styled beach waves framing your face just-so. And so - with all this inspiration floating around on your screen (and the buzz of the wine making you feel increds), you invite your bests to a (what you promised to be) lavish dinner party at yours next month. 12 people. Adults only. And because we are at that age when everyone is just TOO keen for a dinner party and to leave the kiddies at granny’s house, everyone rsvp’d YES.
Now what? Don’t stress - we’ve got your back. We actually really do love hosting dinner parties. They’ve upgraded with age and are now a perfect excuse to try out new recipes, put on that incredible jumpsuit you bought last week, and show off your culinary flair. Although the secret is you don’t need culinary flair. You just need good planning. So here are our top tips for planning and hosting a dinner party that you and your friends will talk about for ages.
1. Plan ahead
This step is crucial. Do not wait until the Friday before the Saturday night to buy your ingredients, think about table settings etc etc. Make sure you, first of all, set the date for the dinner party at least 2 weeks later so that you have adequate time to enjoy the planning process (it does not have to be stressful!). Start by thinking about what you want to cook, how do you want your table to look, what can you make in advance, etc. Write everything down (hopefully in your Edit 2019 planner…) and get organised.
2. Keep the food simple
There’s nothing worse than cooking 4 different things at once while your guests are trying to chat to you. No one can focus on conversation and cooking a steak perfectly. So don’t do it. Make sure that your menu contains mostly pre-prepped items (a great grain + lentil salad sits well, roasted vegetables like a whole roasted cauliflower is great and looks impressive too, curries are wonderful options). Then if you need to, you can just focus on one item that needs to be made right before sitting down to eat - not so bad and totally doable!
3. Don’t do a plated starter
Jen’s mom and I were chatting about dinner parties the other day and she turned to me and said “I’m so happy the days of plated starters are over. When we hosted dinner parties when we were younger, you had to have a fancy plated starter, not to mention the canapés you had to serve with cocktails first! What a nightmare!” Yes luckily for us it’s 2019 and nobody wants to eat a 3 course meal anymore. A great way to just settle the immediate hunger of your guests is to assemble a gorgeous cheese + cured meats platter for everyone to nibble on over a glass of champagne. It’s a perfect conversation starter and gets your guests interacting and chatting. Pile on everything from proper sourdough bread, local cheeses, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, grapes and berries, hummus, cured meats, olives, as well as some rocket for greenery. Top it all off with some edible flowers and you’ve got a gorgeous spread! Tip: don’t use a massive platter, rather use a smaller platter and pile all the goodies tightly together so that the platter looks abundant and full. Second even better tip: Platter Catering companies are trending right now. Seriously. A simple Google search will show you who’s in your area.
4. Candles + Flowers
A beautifully set table is always gorgeous and something that we admire about people. But most of us don’t have that skill (I’d be the first to admit that I definitely do not!). An easy way to detract attention from your not-so-stylish tableware is to put beautiful, soft flowers on your table. Don’t go overboard with different colours, keep it minimal and simple. But a beautiful fresh flower always looks timeless.
Then - right before your guests arrive light all the candles in your house. Scatter them around your living area, in your guest loo, and by your entrance. Candles create such a lovely mood and is the most flattering form of light around. Just make sure to put unscented candles on your table if you want them there - nobody likes to eat a beautiful Puttanesca Pasta with the scent of vanilla in their nose.
There’s no better way to end off a meal than with something decadent and sweet. But it doesn’t have to be intricate or scary. If you’ve got the time, put in the effort and make something special, like a soft mousse or a dark chocolate tart or fruit crumble of some kind. But if you don’t have the time - don’t stress. There are so many amazing people out there that make gorgeous cakes, decadent donuts, and exceptional quality gelato so that you don’t have to. It’s also a great way to support a local small business which we are totally in favour of! And if all else fails and the time just ran out, nobody will complain about a couple of slabs of good quality chocolate making the rounds at the table. Smash a couple of bars of different flavoured chocolate, and pile them onto a gorgeous serving plate and call it a day (or night).
That’s it! We hope this helps and inspires you to plan that Dinner party with your besties ASAP. Take pictures and tag us - we’d love to see what you did!
Anel + Jen