By the time a dinner party is over, we all want our guests to be raving about the food, ambience, and presentation.
It’s easy to invite your friends and family round for a nice dinner, but truly impressing them is a different matter, and that’s what a dinner party should be: impressive.
All it takes is careful planning and preparation. Follow this simple guide to learn how to impress your guests when they come for dinner.
Pick a theme
Having a theme instantly makes the evening feel more special than a simple meal with friends. It also helps to narrow down your options on food, music, and decoration.
For example, on a warm summer’s evening, serve paella, tapas, and churros to the sound of gentle guitar music. Or, on a bleak February night, cheer everyone up with hearty American grub (after all, who said impressive has to mean stuffy?).
Your theme can be elegant, fun, or ambitious. As long as you commit to it, your guests are sure to be impressed.
Prep everything beforehand
If the cooking, plating, and serving of the food goes smoothly, everyone will have a much more enjoyable evening. The secret to achieving this is to prepare as much as you can in advance.
Chop the vegetables, make the sauces and garnishes, even whip up the dessert if possible, the day or morning before your party, so you can focus all your attention on the main course and making sure your guests are having a good time.
Less is more
It may be tempting to load every plate with as much of your delicious food as it can hold, but after putting all that effort into cooking, it would be a shame if you let yourself down on presentation.
Opt for beauty over gluttony, and try to arrange every plate identically, with a little bit of everything. Drizzle sauces and oils, use a sprinkling of garnish for a splash of colour, and get creative with how you arrange things. It’ll make your guests appreciate the food that much more, encouraging them to savour every bite.
Another handy tip: plate up in the kitchen. That way you keep any spills and splashes to yourself.
Your guests came for the food, but they’ll stay for the wine.
The right wine pairing can make a dish sing. The basic rule of thumb is to pair light dishes, white meat and fish with white wine, and red meat and rich sauces with red wine. But if you’re feeling more adventurous, and want something a little more distinctive, try orange wine.
Orange wine isn’t a name for wine flavoured with oranges, but white wines made using the same methods as red wine. The grape skins are left on, resulting in a slightly heavier, spicier wine, which is the perfect accompaniment to food that shares those characteristics.
Take time between courses
Dinner parties should be lively and fun, but also relaxed.
Give your guests time to digest each course and make conversation, before bringing their attention to the next. Waiting ten to fifteen minutes after the last person has finished eating is a good rule to follow.
Serve yourself last
You’re probably going to be starving by the time it comes to serving the food, but take the time to make sure everyone has everything they need before sitting down to your own well deserved dinner. Does anyone need a drinks top-up? Salt and pepper? Fresh knives and forks? An impressive host is a gracious host.
Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! If you’re happy and relaxed, your guests will be too. And after all, you’ve earned it.