How to accessorise your dinner party
Dinner parties are marvellous occasions because they show guests how much you care about giving them a good time over an evening meal. While they can be somewhat stressful to organise, especially if you don’t host often, the right planning and preparation can make for a very special and memorable social event.
Plan well ahead
Your planning and preparation isn’t just about the food you’re going to serve, although that is indeed a key element of dinner party success. You also need to think about the ambience you want to create so your guests feel relaxed and at ease right from the start and how you are going to accessorise the dining table to add touches of luxury and style.
First impressions are important, so take the time to think though everything. In addition to the menu, you’ll also need to consider the drinks, cutlery, glassware and crockery. Throwing a successful dinner party will give you a warm glow of achievement along with the appreciation of your friends and family.
Welcoming your guests
If everything goes according to plan, you won’t be stuck in the kitchen working on last-minute cooking when your guests arrive. They will expect you to pop in there from time to time to check if everything is okay, but be ready to greet, take coats and chat when they arrive.
A touch of fizz and bubbles is a great icebreaker, whether it’s champagne or another quality sparkling wine such as prosecco or cava. Make sure you have attractive glassware for serving your drinks. Beautiful Prosecco glasses make an instant style statement to your guests, and they’ll see those bubbles fizzing away after it has been poured.
Some canapés to accompany the fizz are an added stylish touch. They should be small enough to be eaten in one bite, so smoked salmon with caviar (or lumpfish roe if, like most of us, your budget doesn’t stretch to the real thing) and a touch of dill, perched on a mini toast, is ideal and won’t leave behind a mess of crumbs.
Offer canapés on attractive oval serving plates, which is another statement of elegance and style.
Preparing the table
If you are going to use a tablecloth, make sure it is made of high-quality linen and has napkins to match. Paper goods are not appropriate for a dinner party. Whilst they are perfect for kids’ birthday functions, they will give the wrong image at your soirée! Your tablemats and coasters should match each other and will prevent hot plates from discolouring and damaging the surface of the table.
You don’t have to use a tablecloth, especially if you have an attractive wood surface on your table, but be aware of drink spills that will need to be dealt with quickly once dinner is finished.
Wine glasses and tumblers are an important part of making the tableware look good, so it’s worth investing in both white and red wine glassware and tumblers for water or soft drinks that are matched with one another.
You could also invest in silver or silver-plated cutlery. Not only does it look good, but it will last a long time so you can use it over and over again.
You can either plate up food from the kitchen or set out dishes in the centre of the table so people can help themselves. It depends on the size of the party and the table, but guests generally like being able to choose from what’s on offer. If your main course is meat, carving at the table lets guests enjoy the look and smell of what is on offer and say how much they would like. An attractive wooden carving board, on a side table where people can see it, is a pleasing accessory, whilst deep dishes with lids help to maintain the heat for vegetables. Again, you should try to match your crockery as much as possible.
If you have enough space, candles make a lovely addition to a table and to the overall ambience you are creating. It’s not a good idea to use scented candles because they will interfere with the delicious culinary aromas you want people to enjoy. You should also use some muted lighting; people like to see what they’re eating!
Enjoy your time in the spotlight
Dinner parties are hard work for the host but pay dividends when guests appreciate the time and trouble you’ve taken. With high-quality accessories, you will always make a good impression.