Six steps to the perfect dinner party

Six steps to the perfect dinner party

With the colder weather starting to draw in and autumn just around the corner, September is the perfect time of year to host a dinner party at home. By following these six simple steps, you’ll be able to host a stress-free party and impress your guests with your time management skills and knowledge of seasonal produce.

Guests
Once your guests have responded to your dinner invitation, make sure you find out whether anyone is vegetarian or vegan or if they have any special dietary requirements. Furthermore, don’t hurry people straight to the dinner table as soon as they arrive. Give them an hour or so to relax and mingle with a drink in hand and a few canapes. Serve an assortment of elegant nibbles such as roasted red pepper shots and crunchy crab parcels alongside delicious in-season blackberry cocktails to leave your guests with a lasting impression of your party.

Menu
Choose ingredients that are in season and courses that work together in harmony. If you’re serving a rich main course, for example, make sure you opt for a lighter starter and main. This late-summer tomato and carrot salad is a good warm up for a heavier main of blackberry braised red cabbage with venison. Follow this with scrumptiously simple honeyed almond figs and your friends are sure to be impressed. If you’re not sure what’s in season, check out The British Larder recipe diary.

Preparation
It’s a good idea to work out all of your timings before the start of the dinner party. You should create a schedule for everything from laying the table to getting ready, so that you’re the picture of calm when your guests arrive. Try to prepare as much of your food in advance as possible so the cooking process is as stress-free as possible. You also don’t want to be disappearing into the kitchen for long periods of time when you should be entertaining your guests!

Seating plan
Who better to advise on etiquette than dinner party extraordinaire and baking queen Mary Berry? It might sound a little old fashioned but she suggests sitting guests boy, girl, boy and placing name tags where people should sit. She also says it’s a good idea to switch around the seating plan just before the dessert is served so that guests can get to know new people.

Wine
Chances are you’ll be playing host to at least one wine buff, so it’s important that you choose wine that matches your food perfectly. There are many wine matching websites which tell you your perfect wine match after you enter the ingredients for your menu. Rich autumnal game meats like venison pair beautifully with mature red Burgundy or Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

Cheese board
Once again, Mary Berry has a fantastic suggestion for serving your cheese board! If you’re cooking red meat for your main, she recommends serving the cheese board before dessert because the red wine you’re drinking pairs well with the cheese.

Even if you decide to throw and impromptu party and you don’t have time to source the world’s best seasonal ingredients, the most important aspect of hosting a dinner party is to just have fun! Your guests won’t enjoy themselves if you are not happy and relaxed.

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