5 Top Tips for the Perfect Dinner Party

5 Top Tips for the Perfect Dinner Party

With the revival of the dinner party, we thought we’d share our top tips for being the perfect host, bringing your dining room to life and ways to introduce a bit of that restaurant magic into your own home.

Tip 1 - Prepare Ahead and Keep it Simple 

As the old saying goes, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Nowhere does this more truly apply than a dinner party. Prepping as much as you can in advance will save you time and hassle when your guests arrive. From making sure your dishwasher is empty before the party starts to setting the table well in advanced, its vital you do all you can to avoid rushing around at the start.

Keeping things simple will help you not only in the preparation, but also at the end of the evening when you’re left with the washing up. Don’t try and do 3 courses on 3 separate plates. Serve from the middle and tell your guests to hang onto the same plate throughout. Keep the food simple, too. For example, cold starters mean you can prepare ahead and serve immediately. You don’t want to spend your whole evening in the kitchen while your guests are having all the fun.

Tip 2 - Bring the Restaurant Home 

We feel bringing elements of a fine dining restaurant into the home will make your guests feel like they're having a Michelin star experience. From writing out simple menus to name cards, these little touches will go a long way.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Writing out the menu’s for each guest. It's a small detail, but goes a long way in making your dinner party seem like an event rather than a hodgepodge get together.

2) Reuse your old wine bottles as candle holders. We have a great wine bar hack for this, as often the neck of a bottle is too narrow to fit a dinner candle. Simply dunk the end of the candle in some boiling water for a few seconds. The wax will soften, and the candle will fit in the bottle neck with ease.

3) Reuse your old wine corks as place setting holders. Cut a thin strip off the bottom (to make a flat base) and cut a line across the top. You can then fit a name card in the top cut.

4) Writing your guests names on their wine glass with a chalk pen (available on Amazon, in WH Smiths, and most stationary stores). This is a good way to avoid any awkward mix-ups or someone having an accidental taste from another’s glass. It also stops you from spending your whole evening re-washing glasses.

Tip 3 - Splash out on Nice Glassware

One simple way to maximize wine enjoyment is to drink it in proper wine glasses. And that doesn’t mean spending hundreds of pounds on a set of new Zalto’s. Riedel and Spigleau offer superb, restaurant standard wine glasses at a really good price.

Another sure way to impress your guests is to decant your wines. Even if it’s 30-minutes before serving, the process of decanting wines will allow your wines to open up fully before drinking, letting all the aromas and flavours develop. Not to mention the added ambience, making your guests feel part of something special. All wine can be decanted. And it’s super easy!

Tip 4 - Be Brave with Your Food and Wine Pairings 

Keeping things simple doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on flavour. There are some fantastic, easy recipes out there that can be paired with unusual wines. For example, deep, full-flavoured reds like Syrah pair really well with spice, think a lamb or vegetable curry. Merlot is great with slow roasted meats, like a pulled pork taco. White wines can also bring some interesting conversations to a dinner party. Why not try hotdogs with Champagne, or salmon Gravlax with a cold glass of Provence Rose?

Desserts are always fun too. Some great sweet wines will elevate a simple dessert to new levels. Try a cold Eiswein with a peach cobbler. Sweet wines will also pair really well with a well selected cheese board, especially creamy, blue cheeses.

Tip 5 - Remember to Enjoy Yourself

Hosting can be stressful, but always remember that it’s just a bit of food and wine. Hospitality comes from the heart, and no matter what you serve - or what inevitably goes wrong (you’re only human) - the overall experience will still be wonderful. The simple act of cooking for friends, in your own home, is already so special. Everything else is just a bonus. You are not a professional, and your friends will love you even if you accidentally burn dessert. Great restaurants like to treat their customers as guests; people they have welcomed into their home to lavish with kindness, generosity and the food they like to serve. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Relax, go with the flow, and always enjoy yourself.


Bonus Tip - The Hangover Cure

One last note from us. Drink well, eat well, make sure you have a pint of water ready before you go to bed, and avoid concrete plans the next day. Stock up on the Berocca have the ultimate greasy breakfast foods ready to fry up. There is no set ‘hangover cure’ but these three tips have seen us through a lot of groggy mornings.