Whether you’re entertaining family members or hosting a dinner for colleagues, you’ll rest easy knowing our list of dos and don’ts for this formal affair.
The level of formality will usually be determined by the invitation itself. A printed card sent several weeks in advance will indicate a formal dinner party. Likewise, a phone call a few days before will indicate an informal one. It is important to specify a dress code to ensure your guests are well prepared.
Do as much as you can before the guests arrive, preferably even the night before. This will save you from running around like a headless chicken on the day. Chop the vegetables, measure ingredients, lay the table – this way, you’ll be able to spend more time with your guests. Cooking for a dinner party can get boring while everyone else is catching up. If you are relying on staff, make sure they are well briefed and have all the equipment, utensils and items they need in advance.
Welcoming the guests
When your guests start arriving, welcome them. Offer them a drink upon arrival. Drinks can last from 15 minutes up to an hour but no longer. Should they last up to an hour, offer canapés which will help set the mood for the evening.
It is important to remember to be realistic. Avoid making the menu complicated. A simple dish compiled of fresh flavours will give your guests the impression that you are a confident culinary genius. If possible, choose dishes that can be left bubbling in a pot or put in the oven to avoid unnecessary suffering in the kitchen while your guests arrive. For dessert, a chocolate mousse or a cheesecake that can be left in the fridge overnight is ideal.
Remember to relax
It is the responsibility of the host to ensure that the evening runs smoothly. Pay particular attention to guests who are shy or who have come on their own. Try to let conversations flow naturally. Remember, your guests will respond to your mood.