When it comes to making your dinner party go off without a hitch, your hostess skills are often equally as important as your cooking. After all, a warm, inviting welcome can make all the difference in getting the evening off to a swinging start, so here are a few more nuggets of wisdom to help you throw the perfect party.
R.S.V.P. It’s completely up to you whether you host a casual get-together or sophisticated soiree, but whichever you opt for, make sure guests are clear on the dress code. There’s not a lot you can do to ease someone’s awkwardness if they arrive obviously over-dressed – or under-dressed, so be as clear as you can in advance about what you’ll be wearing and how formal the event is. It might sound controlling, but everyone will appreciate it on the night!
Keep the drinks flowing. We’ve all heard that you should always give your guests a drink on arrival and keep their glasses topped up throughout the evening, but it’s also important to let them help themselves.
However carefully you’ve stocked your drinks cabinet, unless your guests know you very well they’re unlikely to feel comfortable searching through your fridge for a refill. Have your drinks clearly presented out in the open to make it clear they’re there for everyone to enjoy. You can fill bowls with ice and bottles of white wine and beer to make sure they stay chilled.
Make glasses sparkle. Keep your drinking glasses sparkling with reflective shine by washing them in the dishwasher with Finish Quantum Max and Finish Quantum Jet-Dry – this will always ensure your tableware is gleaming on the dinner table.
Establish seating. Old fashioned etiquette dictates that you should never seat a husband and wife or partners together, and that the seating should alternate genders, if possible.
Of course, you don’t have to stick to this, but it does help shake things up a little. Designated seating also lets you make sure no-one is excluded, and that people are encouraged to mingle a little and get to know each other. For a less formal gathering, try asking everyone to swap seats before the dessert course
Add some wow factor to your table. Use fresh fruit or flowers for your centrepiece, taking care that the vases sit quite low on the table so that they won’t get in the way of conversation by obstructing your guests’ faces. Make your food look irresistible by adding decorative elements to your plates, like colourful cranberries, pomegranate seeds or even edible flowers.
Offer nibbles. Giving your guests something to snack on while they wait for courses to be served is great for keeping hunger pangs at bay, and can help to earn you some extra time if a dish is taking longer than expected to cook. Try serving delicious vodka-marinated tomatoes in an oversized martini glass, accompanied by lemon pepper seasoning in one shot glass and cocktail sticks in another.
Serve a sharing appetiser. You can free up time to focus on your main course (and cut the amount of time spent serving up on individual plates) by choosing an appetiser that can be served on shared platters, dotted around the centre of the table, for everyone to help themselves, tapas- style..
With these simple tips in mind, you can ensure that your evening runs smoothly – and that your guests leave with a high opinion of your hostess skills! Happy entertaining.