Be prepared for every eventuality: it’s always a good idea to have a supply of spare plates and crockery in case of accidents or unexpected guests.
Aperitif and Hors D’oeuvres
Plan to serve simple hors d’oeuvres and an aperitif during the period between guest arrival and serving dinner. This will give you some extra time to take care of those last minute arrangements.
A handwritten or printed menu, displayed in a photo frame, is a nice touch for guests when they arrive, and this can often create a talking point.
Opt for soft lighting to create a relaxed ambience. Candles can also add a warm glow to the room, but use unscented candles to ensure they don’t clash with the smell of the food!
Background music is a ‘must’ at a dinner party. Plan the music in advance and test the volume levels to ensure that guests will be heard over it.
Tablecloths and Napkins
Iron the tablecloth and napkins a few hours before dinner to remove unsightly creases.
Glassware and Cutlery
Check to make sure all glassware and cutlery is polished and shining.
Table Plan and Place Cards
Decide in advance where guests should be seated, taking into account their interests and personalities. Simple, handwritten place cards are a good way of ensuring everyone knows where to sit.
Again, keep table decorations simple. One or two single stem bud vases are ideal. Alternatively, a centrepiece of floating candles is very effective.
Avoid large displays and always aim for low level decorations that don’t obscure the sight lines of guests when seated at the table.
Wine is usually the easiest and most appropriate drink at a dinner party, and both red and white should be available. Make sure you have a corkscrew on hand.
Nevertheless, it is very important to ensure that there is a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks available too.
At the End of the Evening
For those who may have enjoyed a bit too much alcohol during the evening, it is always wise to have a list of local taxi numbers to hand!