|Kitchen Retailer BettaLiving's guide to a perfect evening
Planning a dinner party at home can easily turn into a stressful experience. It needn't be this way though – if you get organised early and take every opportunity to think ahead, it can be a breeze. Some of you may be lucky enough to have large, organised and well-equipped kitchens. If not, then get your kitchen tidy and organised first and take stock of all the equipment and utensils you have at your disposal. If you start planning well ahead of the date, the experience will be an enjoyable one rather than one ruined by poor planning, organisation and last-minute rushing around. After all, you're also a guest at your own party. Try to remember this and that keep in mind that you're having family and friends over to spend time with them.
Take your tasks step-by-step to avoid becoming overwhelmed and spoiling what should be a great night for not just your guests, but also for you. Try following some of these tips to guide you on your way to becoming the host with the most!
• After inviting your guests, put together a plan. If you are inviting more than six to eight people, try to keep the menu simple. If you can make something like a stew or casserole, that's all the better, as such dishes suggest warmth and sharing – not to mention the fact it will also significantly reduce your workload. These things can often be made well in advance and have the extra benefit of improving the longer they sit. You might also want to have a theme – this is not only fun but can also help create a clear vision of what you'll need to do on the culinary side.
• You may want to consider doing a buffet. This keeps things a little less formal if that's the aim and will reduce the workload, giving you more time to enjoy the evening. Take some time over the presentation if you are doing a buffet: no pots should be put on the buffet table unless it's a nice paella pan or an ornamental wok. Encourage guests to serve themselves.
• Greet your guests with a drink, whether it's wine, beer or a cocktail, and place nibbles around the rooms so people can help themselves.
• Lay the table with wine and water. Always open the red wine early and allow it to breathe and leave the white wine in the fridge or freezer until the last minute along with bottles of mineral water. This can encourage guests to help themselves and pour for other people. Something this simple can often help break the ice a little, especially if you have guests who haven't met before.
• Clear plates away after eating, but don't start cleaning up and washing the dishes. You can rinse them and put on the side, but there's nothing worse at a dinner party when the host starts tidying and cleaning during the party. Clean up after your guests have left.
The art of hosting the perfect dinner party takes time and practice, but like with anything, the more you do it the better you'll get. Bon appétit!
January 10, 2014