Whether you are an old pro at hosting dinner parties, or about to hold you first one, the most important thing to thing about – apart from the food and drink – is setting the right scene and having the right accessories to achieve the look and atmosphere you want to create.
First of all think about what sort of dinner party are you wanting to have? Think about who is coming and what sort of people they are. Do you want relaxed and informal, or a more traditional and formal atmosphere? If you are having some close friends round then informal is probably the way it will go, but if you are trying to impress your new boss, maybe more formal is the atmosphere you should strive to!
Which you choose will have an impact on how you will set the scene for the evening, the more relaxed the dinner party the less you will worry about creating the right scene, but either way there are some things you will need that are essential, and some things that aren’t essential but always create a nice scene.
Crockery and Cutlery – you will certainly need these! Obviously matching sets of plates, bowls, serving dishes etc always make things look uniformly elegant. A nice modern touch is to have two sets in contrasting colours (say brown and cream) and to alternate the different coloured plates. A good cutlery set is also essential and as you will more than likely be serving more that one course, a selection of different cutlery for different courses set out beforehand always looks professional.
Glasses – wine glasses are essential, whether you have different ones for red and white wine depends on how formal you want your evening to be. It is also a good idea to have something to serve water in too, and smart little matching coffee cups look fantastic for after the meal.
Not So Essentials….
Place Mats – whether they are wood, slate, material or something else, these always look great as well as protecting your table, most come with matching coasters and it all adds to that finished look.
Table Runner – these have nearly replaced the old fashioned table cloth, get one to match or contrast against your placemats, run it down the length of your table and it will not only look stylish, you can put any serving plates on it and it will protect your table aswell.
Centrepiece – this could be a vase with flowers, a vase with pebbles, a candelabra or anything else you like that goes with the scene you want, why not get creative and make something – it will be a focal (and talking) point of the evening!
Candles/lighting– if you haven’t got a candelabra for your centrepiece then maybe a few candles on the table would look good. A dinner party never seems to be complete without some candles, maybe its the soft mood light they create that works so well. If you aren’t into candles try and dim the lights or use a lamp so it isn’t too bright.
Name places – not essential, you can let people choose where they want to sit, but sometimes if there is a large group of people it is nice to sit them in a certain order – you don’t want all the loud
people at one end and all the shy and quiet people at the other, a good mix can make or break a dinner parties flow of conversation.
Just remember that throwing a dinner party, be it formal or informal, doesn’t have to cost the earth, it can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like, you just need a little imagination.
What do you think, have I missed anything out to help set the scene for the perfect dinner party?