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THE ART OF HOSTING A DINNER PARTY

True hospitality is an art and the perfect dinner party, much like a masterpiece, is subtle in its nuances. It’s more than just delicious food and great company. So, whether you want to create an affair worthy of a 2 Michelin star restaurant or you’re simply cosying up to the idea of rustic food with backyard boheme vibes, we’ve carefully constructed a hosting guide to get you started.

1. Set the mood

The snobbery, etiquette and pomp that once existed among dinner parties of the 90s have been swiped left so hard they’re basically out in the Indian Ocean. That’s not to say you can’t entertain wall-to-wall thematics or scouring antique stores for 1920s candelabras if you’re feeling fancy. Today, dining in your own home is all about comfort and an inviting tone.

No matter whether you’re sitting on the ground, the grass or resting back in an Eames, try to create lighting that’s warm and suited to the environment. It’s also important to have music that complements conversation, not competes with it. 

2. Get Prepped

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Cheersing a drink and chatting away while the duck slowly confits in the kitchen is the absolute goal post at dinner parties. But in reality, cooking time rarely allows for a casual tete-a-tete.

Prep the hard stuff (meat dishes, stews, cold set desserts) pre guest arrival and get a schedule together for the rest. Being realistic about how much food you can get on the table will also let you step away from the stove and into the atmosphere of the party.

 

3. Check for Allergies

Vegans, vegetarians, allergic to nuts, pescatarian, the list goes on. Never before have we had a society more privy to varying food sensitivities and while it can be a bit of a dinner party dampener, it’s important to check with all guests for their preferences. The last thing you want to do is be serving one person carrots all night, or do you?

4. Find a theme

When we talk themes at dinner parties we’re not referring to Saturday Night Fever or Back to the Future (though put us down for that), but more so being consistent with a theme of food.

You probably aren’t going to serve a Tiramisu after having Ramen. Carry your theme from starter to dessert, your palate will thank you for it. Drinks are also a great way to show your guests you’ve put in some extra elbow grease when it comes to theme. Try these curated beers for indulging guests at your next dinner party. 

5. Food and drink pairing

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We don’t necessarily expect an end to end experience when it comes to our friend’s dinner parties, but when it happens (cue pig on a spit) it’s a type of surprise and delight unrivalled by many. Matching your drinks to your food will take your dinner party from amateur to ambitious in the best way possible.

Maybe you’re hosting a night of Japanese inspired cuisine or a sashimi degustation. Why not take your guests on the complete journey by introducing their tastebuds to some Japanese artisanal beers, like these select beers from the Yoho Brewing Company..

Naturally, it’s not a dinner party without our good friend vino at the table. And, while your general motto might be ‘any wine is good wine’ you’ll be surprised how the right wine paired to the right dish can really elevate the night. Think Chardonnays, Rosés and Semillons with seafood or save your earthy, savoury reds for your dark meat dishes. And, if you’re really stuck, you can never go wrong with the most transformative of wines, Pinot Noir, a good one can carry you from start to finish.

Think along these lines and you’ll be pinged for hosting again in no time.

6. Settle the sweet tooth

The sweet stuff is the clincher to the night, it is one of the last things your guests will remember unless you plan to go all Nigella with a take home gift. Needless to say, by the time it comes to dessert you’ve usually done your dash and guests are ready to ease into the night. It’s a good idea to stick with a simple variety of things like a cheese board or dark chocolate for grazing. Top it off with a dessert wine or even a chocolate stout for the not so sweet tooth. 

7. The Guestbook sentiment

A great way to end the night and to increase your hosting repertoire is to have your guests sign a dedicated dinner party guestbook. Of course, they aren’t going to review or rate you, but it’s a nice way for people to show their appreciation for a night well spent in your home.

After all, the biggest gift you can give your guests is the feeling of being cared for; herein lies the secret to a successful dinner party. It isn’t just about whether the lamb shoulder was falling off the bone or the cauliflower puree was without fault, it’s about the intangible gift of entertaining.

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