With recent events forcing us to rethink our options for dining out, it seems the dinner party is being welcomed back with open arms.
From guest lists and table decorations, to tantalising hors d’oeuvres and trendy cocktails, we’re planning and prepping dining experiences at the hottest restaurant in town – Our Place.
Whether it’s a special occasion feast with the family, or a sit-down culinary extravaganza with friends, the dinner party is an invitation to dress up and catch-up.
Food, drink and sparkling conversation have long been the hallmarks of a great dinner party, but we think there are three more ingredients that deserve a special mention.
The dining space
Room for a generous dining table is becoming more of a priority in anticipation of sit-down gatherings large and small. If you’re expecting a full house, don’t forget that open-plan living and dining spaces usually allow you to ‘borrow’ space to extend the table, or to pull up a few extra seats if you need to. An open-plan layout also allows the in-house chef to stay connected to their guests, joining in the chat while they keep the food and wine flowing from the kitchen. After all, you don’t want to miss your own dinner party.
How you decorate your dining table – and even the dining space – will depend on the vibe you’re going for, whether it’s fun and funky with an eclectic mix of crockery and glassware, for example, or super-sophisticated with matching china and crisp linen napkins. The right lighting will add ambience, as will a thoughtful playlist, while fresh flowers and candles will help ensure your table is dressed to impress.
Many top-rated restaurants have an open-style kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work, so there’s no need to be shy when it comes to cooking for your guests. You might even want to position the cooktop in your new kitchen so that you’re facing your guests, bumping up that ‘master chef’ factor. With as much of the prep work as possible done in advance, you can really show off your culinary skills on the night.
Plenty of benchtop makes plating up a breeze, while a scullery helps keep the washing up out of sight as you clear the table ready for the next course. A well-organised scullery with lots of storage and preparation space will also help keep you on track as you work through your shopping list and tick off those make-ahead dishes in the days leading up to your dinner party.
Mojito? Espresso martini? Manhattan? When your guests arrive, why not set the scene with cocktails from the bar? Add ‘mixologist’ to your dinner party credentials by mastering a few iconic cocktails. If you have an IT zone or study nook in your living area, this could be turned into the ideal drinks station. Setting aside a dedicated space for drinks is both practical and adds to the ambience and sense of occasion. A vintage drinks trolley also fits the bill and is totally on-trend.
At the end of the day, a dinner party is an opportunity to catch up with the people you want to spend time with.
So, what’s our number one tip?
Focus on minimising the stress and maximising the fun!