Tag Archives: dinner party

Dinner Parties Without the Drama

If you watch the popular BBC America series Come Dine With Me, you’d be forgiven for thinking that hosting a dinner party for some close friends is one big drama from start to finish with argumentative guests, deflating soufflés and the fussy vegan guest who refuses to eat anything you put on their plate. Cooking for friends can be great fun and also completely stress-free, as long as you do some preparation and get organized before the guests start to arrive.


Of course the main focus of any dinner party is the food, but an evening when you are having friends over is not the time to be experimenting with a dish you have never made before or which your cook books rate as for experts only. Try to prepare as much as you can before your guests arrive; a cold appetizer such as a shrimp cocktail or salad can be made in the afternoon and popped in the fridge, and a cold dessert can be made the night before. Have all your vegetables chopped and ready to go, and prepare as much of the main course as you can in advance so that all you have to do when guests arrive is to put the food in the oven and sit down to enjoy your starter. Tried and tested recipes are the best so that you can cook with confidence.


Many guests will bring wine as a present, but always have a couple of bottles of white chilling in the fridge and some red open and ready so that you can offer people a drink as soon as they arrive. Ask one of the other guests to help you by keeping glasses topped up while you are in the kitchen, or with a group of close friends, ask them to help themselves. Try not to have too much to drink before serving the food as a tipsy host leaves things to burn on the stove or drops servings on the floor more often than a sober one.


It’s not necessary to completely revamp your kitchen and dining area when you are having friends over to eat, but it is worth investing in a plain white tablecloth which can be accessorized with table runners, funky colored napkins, candles and even confetti to create a party feel. Make sure you check all of the light bulbs in your black retro kitchen lights so that people are not

Pan seared Shrimp
Pan-Seared Shrimp-just heat and serve.

eating in the dark, and for a more formal dinner, print off menus and name cards to put by the place settings. If you don’t have enough matching tableware or glassware for all of your guests, several rental outlets and party stores will rent glasses for a small charge. Consider buying some new black retro kitchen lights if your lighting is not up to scratch, and always ensure the kitchen and dining area are scrupulously clean before inviting guests  for something to eat and drink.

The Contemporary Home offer a fantastic range of black retro kitchen lights – just the thing to create a great atmosphere for your dinner party.

And remember, if cooking is too stressful, MagicKitchen.com can help out with already cooked delicious meals! Keep your dinner party simple and easy with prepared meals.


Dinner Takes All: How to Make Your Dinner Party a Success

With the continuing popularity of ‘Dinner Takes All’, dinner parties have never been more fashionable!

The program wonderfully demonstrates the fun that can be had when a host gets it right, but it also highlights the multitude of things that can go wrong!

But follow the steps below and your guests will score you a perfect 120!

 Image by Jules


Planning Your Dinner

The first thing to plan is what kind of dinner party you want. If you’re a cooking guru then try fine dining; if you’re idea of cooking is baked beans on toast, then it’s best to capitalize on fun and disguise your cooking with a theme!

Themed evenings are also good for breaking the ice, and will leave everyone feeling relaxed!

When it comes to food, the most important thing is to have realistic expectations. If you struggle to make cupcakes, you probably won’t be able to create a Panna Cotta from scratch!

But you don’t need to resort to ready meals, call on friends and family for help instead! If you can keep a secret, your guests will never know! Don’t feel too guilty about bending the truth; the Daily Mail reported that 40% of hosts cheat in some way!

If you are going for the complete ‘Dinner Takes All’ experience, it’s now time to create your menu. The key to a good menu is to create intrigue and deliver! Don’t state all the facts, but equally don’t describe a cheap Walmart pizza as a ‘Homemade Flatbread with mozzarella and sundried tomatoes’ -your guests won’t be too impressed!

On the Day

Make sure you’ve had a good night’s sleep. The only thing worse than falling asleep at someone’s dinner party, is falling asleep at your own!

Now you’re up and about, it’s time to get ready. Unless you have made the recipes several times before, make sure to overestimate how much time you’ll need.

Don’t drink too much while you’re cooking! Getting your guests drunk is almost guaranteed to boost their enjoyment, but if you’re the one stumbling around the kitchen, there may be a problem!

Image by Jules

Make sure your dining table sets you apart from the competition. Pay attention to detail; create name cards for each of your guests, make sure the cutlery is laid out in the correct order and fold your napkins into clever designs. Finally, you can create ambiance with candles and soft music.

Leave plenty of time to get dressed; the easiest way to tell that someone is running behind is if they haven’t had time to change. But make sure you get all of the messy cooking done early – you don’t want your best dress covered in flour!


Your Guests Arrive

Make your guests feel at home from the second they step in the door; no matter how flustered you are, be sure to act relaxed and greet them with a smile!

If you are offered gifts, accept them graciously –additionally, if you have a tendency to re-gift items, it is now a good idea to note down who gave you what!

Lead your guests through to a comfortable chair; don’t seat them on the dining furniture until everyone has arrived. Make sure to offer each person a drink, and small appetizers can be a nice touch.



The key to providing good entertainment is preparation. Playing hot cross buns on a recorder won’t have a good effect!

So rather than dusting off the instruments of your childhood, dust off your board games for a low effort way to keep your guests entertained!


A Fond Farewell

So you’ve made it through the evening, and it’s time to say goodbye. One tip is to give your guests a small memento.

If it’s summertime you could make mini bouquets from the flowers in your garden. They can also double as table decorations!


 Image by Jules

Foodie gifts are another nice idea. A simple idea is homemade chili oil. Simply fill a bottle with olive oil (or vegetable oil if you prefer), and add a couple of your favorite chilies. Within a couple of weeks the chili will start to infuse the oil, the flavor growing stronger over time.

Once the guests are out of the door, it’s finally time to relax!

With any luck you’ll have had a fantastic evening, and you can sit back and look forward to your guests inviting you back to their homes!

Do you have any top dinner party tips?


Bio: Elise Lévêque is a wining and dining blogger, who loves hosting dinner parties for her friends.