So, you’re hosting a dinner party. Are you worried about how to ensure the evening goes without a hitch? Fortunately, we’ve asked Katie Georgeson, Brand Manager at kitchen appliance manufacturer Stoves, to share her top tips for creating the perfect dinner party in this guest post:
Tasty food, cold drinks, good friends, and great conversation — when you put it like that, it sounds so simple. Yet, despite this, many people overcomplicate matters and end up getting flustered. The perfect dinner party is one that allows you to spend time with your guests, rather than being stuck behind the hob. But, creating a flawlessly fun-filled evening doesn’t have to be a monumental task. With a good plan and a bit of time, you’ll be able to create a dinner party that will blow your friends and family away.
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as cooking a delicious meal to enjoy with friends, but there’s no need to let it become a stressful experience. No one is expecting you to cook a Michelin-star meal but, with the right plan, you can create one that is sure to impress. It is tempting to want to go over the top and wow everybody, and this can be done well, as long as you have enough time to prepare beforehand.
Preparation is key to ensuring everything runs smoothly, especially if you’re trying to make something for the first time. Equally, you don’t want to cook anything that will keep you away from entertaining for large parts of the evening. You’ll want to choose dishes that can largely be prepared earlier in the day or the day before. That way, you’ll be able to give your guests your full attention.
Think about how you want to decorate your table. This will set the tone for the evening – formal or cosy, candles or tea lights (or both), centrepiece or a jar of flowers. Whatever mood you want to create a linen tablecloth and set of linen napkins provides the perfect backdrop.
My favourite way to start a dinner party is with a delicious soup. Not only can it easily be prepared in advance and warmed up at just the right time, it’s also a great way to set the tone for the rest of the meal. There are hundreds of options to choose from and, no matter what you recipe you decide to go for, it’ll be relatively easy to make. Some of my favourites include leek, bacon, and potato; red lentil soup (great for vegans); and chicken noodle soup.
On the morning of your gathering, get the soup out of the freezer and heat it up when you get home. Keep it simmering as the guests arrive and serve it with a tasty loaf of bread. If you have the time and inclination, making your own fresh loaf from scratch is a great idea. Not only does freshly baked bread taste fantastic, your guests will be impressed by your culinary talents.
A cold meat platter with olives and vegetarian dips is also an easy way to whet people’s appetites if the weather is too warm for soup.
For your main dish you’ll want to create something that’s both hearty and delicious. You don’t have to take the whole day off work to whip up a tasty meal. In fact, you don’t have to spend much time in the kitchen at all if you don’t want to. Making something that you can put in the over for a few hours is much less stressful than having four different hobs on the go at once.
That’s why I think pot roasts are an ideal choice: the whole thing can be prepped in about 45 minutes, and you can easily do this the day before. What’s great is that the starches and vegetables are cooked with the roast itself, so everything is ready at once. If you need something vegetarian, a similar one-dish option that can be made beforehand is lasagne — just swap out the beef for vegetables or Quorn mince.
There’s no better way to top off a dinner party than with a beautiful homemade dessert. Get this right and your night will have been a huge success. Fortunately, dessert is one of the easiest dishes to prepare ahead of time. If you want to go all out, test your baking skills and make something fresh to order, by all means go for it. But, if you want to entertain for most of the evening, it might be wise to make the dessert a day or two early.
A classic choice that will take you right back to being a kid is banoffee pie. Not only can this fantastic dessert be made in an hour, it will still taste amazing if you make it a couple of days before. For something a bit more chocolatey, you can’t go wrong with a delectable chocolate almond torte, which will is always a winner at any dinner party.
Follow this guide and you’ll be able to create a delicious, homemade, three course meal while also entertaining your guests throughout the evening. Bon appétit!
For more on table setting and recipe ideas go here and here.