How to throw the perfect dinner party

Although I still enjoy the odd night out (though, why is the getting ready and blasting out the tunes bit always more fun than the bit when you’re actually out?), one thing I really love is having friends over for dinner.  It just feels perfect to have all of the people I love in one place, with the wine flowing, lots of laughter, and a plan for the festivities to go on long into the night.  I especially love having dinner parties in the summer – when the weather is warmer and you can have barbecues or sit in the garden.  With this in mind (and as I’m currently planning my next little soiree), I thought I’d share my tips for throwing the perfect dinner party.

001. Make a signature cocktail – I love serving an aperitif or a cocktail when people arrive.  My favourite aperitif is a Kir Breton; cider, creme de cassis and a splash of Calvados.  Serve in a champagne flute on a pretty tray (of course!) I also have these raspberry sorbet bellinis bookmarked for my next get together!

002. Use fresh flowers as a centrepiece – I love having fresh flowers in the house, but I think they look especially pretty as a centrepiece at the dinner table, surrounded by candles gently burning away. You can also find lots of cool ideas for displaying flowers on Pinterest – try painting glass bottles or displaying in vintage cans.  Quick dinner party tip – don’t make your flowers too tall (go for less than 12 inches) so your guests can still see each other across the table.

003. Serve nibbles on arrival – If you’re not going to be sitting down to eat immediately then I always like to have a few nibbles out on the table in case people turn up hungry! Costa and Mollica do some amazing nibbles – try their Tarallina or Grissina Breads (these are amazing served with a charcuterie platter as part of a starter too).

004. Write out the menu – If your dinner party has enough guests, and enough courses to make this an option, then I love writing out the menu and having one on the table for each guest.  You can write out the menu on kraft paper, or even on leaves with gold pen! If you use a large piece of kraft paper it can also double up as a place mat.

005. Embrace mis-match – If you’re anything like me, I just don’t have enough matching plates, cutlery and glasses for when I have more than a few people round (not quite reached peak adult yet).  Instead of having one odd glass I tend just mix and match everything so it feels like a theme (plus I really like the look of lots of bowls, glasses and plates in different patterns!)

006. Minimise cooking with a ‘no bake’ dessert – Limit the time you spend in the kitchen by preparing ‘no bake’ desserts the night before.  Try these mini lemon cheesecakes – you can make them in little jars and serve them with twine or ribbon tied around them to make them even more instagram friendly!

007. Mood lighting – I’m all about the mood lighting when we have friends over for dinner.  Candles, fairy lights and lamps always create the perfect atmosphere for dinner.

008. Have a plan for after dinner – I like to make sure the party doesn’t stop when the last dish is cleared away – so I always line up the perfect Spotify playlist, and make sure the cupboard is stacked with board games! 

What are your tips for holding the perfect dinner party?

Post in collaboration with Crosta & Mollica – their yummy foods make the perfect dinner party accompaniment – make sure you grab some from Waitrose or Ocado next time you’re entertaining…