In today’s guest post, Alison Howell from the tableware experts Burleigh gives her top tips for hosting an elegant dinner party in your own kitchen or dining room. Read on for inspiration and ideas for a successful gathering.
With us all spending a lot more time at home at the moment, you might be missing visiting your favourite restaurants for fancy meals. If so, why not try hosting an elegant dinner party at home? Of course, during the lockdown, you'll only be able to invite those from your household to the dinner table. But, if you're missing your friends and family, you could plan a more extravagant affair for when things start to get back to normal.
Whenever you decide to have your at-home dinner party, there are some steps you can take to make it as special as possible. Here, I'm going to outline my top tips that will make for a fantastic evening.
Use your best tableware
If you tend to save your best tableware for the biggest occasions, such as Christmas dinner, why not add some extra excitement to your dinner party by using it? Whether you're hosting your party for your family during lockdown, or you're planning a get-together for when things have settled down a bit, everyone's likely to be in need of a little luxury. And bringing out your finest dinner plates and bowls will help with that.
Go all out and serve three courses
If you want to throw a dinner party that everyone will remember, I would recommend going all out and serving three courses. You don't have to be an expert chef, either — you can make starters and desserts from shop-bought elements that simply need mixing up or warming through. Then you can put most of your effort into creating the perfect main course.
BBC Good Food has some excellent dinner party main recipes that have been designed exactly for this.
Dress up – and dress your table – for the occasion
We've all now spent months in our pyjamas and casual clothes so to make your dinner feel like the event of the year, ask everyone to dress up. It's likely it's been a while since you wore your best dress or shirt and some fancy shoes, so seize the opportunity to give them some airtime!
If lockdown is over and you're able to have people over, let them know that there's a dress code when you send the invitation. That way, everyone will show up looking their very best, and nobody will feel out of place.
Make sure your table looks spruced up too. Use a linen tablecloth, linen napkins and a floral arrangement to make the meal feel really special. Remember, a tablecloth can even make the food taste better! Add candles for soft, intimate ambience.
Choose the right wine pairing
While the food you cook and serve should definitely be the star of the show, you can add an extra element of fun and sophistication to your night by choosing the right wine pairing to go with your meal. To keep things simple, I would recommend opting for a wine that offers similar flavours to your dishes. So, for example, if you're serving some pasta with a lemon-based sauce, a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc would be perfect. On the other hand, if you're serving a smoked meat main, a Malbec or even an oaky Merlot will be ideal.
Have fun with it
Putting on a dinner party can get quite stressful if you're determined to get everything perfect. So, remember that the whole point of hosting this meal is to spend some quality time with those from your household, or to see friends and family that you haven't been able to meet in person for some time. Yes, you'll want to lay your table beautifully, and serve some delicious dishes, but remember to have fun with it, too! And don't fall into the trap of spending the whole evening in your kitchen trying to get everything just right — you need to enjoy the night, too, so ensure that you make time to really enjoy the food, and catch up with everyone at the dinner table.
Whether you’re still in lockdown and you want to do something special for your household, or we can finally see family and friends and you want to celebrate, hosting a dinner party is a great idea. Take these tips on board, and you can be sure that both you and your dinner party guests will have a fantastic time.