I love throwing dinner parties! There is just nothing better than getting all your friends together and enjoying delicious food and lots of laughs. But the thought of having to do all the cooking and being the host(ess) can be enough to deter some people. So I thought it might be helpful to write a little guide showing how to throw a lovely dinner party without getting stressed.
I obviously cook for a living, so you may be forgiven for thinking “it’s alright for her! No wonder she loves dinner parties!”. But actually there is a heightened pressure on me because it’s what I do for a living, people are expecting something mind blowing. And whilst I want to give my friends something delicious to eat, I also don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen and I want to be able to enjoy the evening too.
Over the years I have come up with some tips for throwing a lovely party without getting stressed. And it’s much easier than you may think.
So when I got approached by Argos and they asked if I wanted to throw a dinner party for my friends, I obviously jumped at the chance.
First thing’s first. Have a think about the menu. Planning ahead is key, and will save you any last minute stress. Don’t overcomplicate the menu, choose something nice and simple. Simple can still be delicious.
I think for a simple supper with friends, you don’t have to offer three course, two courses is more than enough. That will give you less to do, and you can do it really well. You can always serve some nibbles with drinks which people always love.
For my dinner party I chose fondue for the main course! Yup. We went retro and popped a fondue pot on the table. People cooked their own meat and then I served it with lots of lovely salads. I had forgotten how much I love fondues. They are such an easy thing to prepare, and people absolutely love them! It makes for a really fun party as everyone can get stuck in. Whatever you do, don’t forget the rule that if the meat falls off your fondue fork you must kiss the person to the left of you…FUN TIMES!
For my dinner party, the menu was:
Prosecco with rosemary and raspberry skewers (not technically a starter, but a lovely way to start the evening)
Hasselback potatoes with thyme and lashings of butter.
The Broadhead special pink sauce – which is obligatory for fondues
Green bean and sugar snap pea salad with mustard seeds, violas and mozzarella
Raspberry and elderflower jellies
To avoid stress I would always recommend cooing something you have done before. Nothing is less relaxing than having to flip through books or reach for Google half way through the meal. Pick something you are comfortable with and that you know tastes good.
When doing any kind of cooking, preparation is key. It’s absolutely crucial. Particularly for when you are having friends round you want to have time to lay the table, change your clothes and maybe even brush your hair. So choosing a menu that you can prepare in advance is a real life saver. I would always recommend making a pudding that you can make the night before. That way when you set off for work, you already know half the work is done, which is a nice feeling. It also means you don’t have to jump up from the table half way through the main course to go and tend to your chocolate fondants. Try these easy chocolate and coconut tarts, find the recipe here.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Yes people would love to eat something delicious, but they are also there to see you and have a good time. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t Heston Blumenthal. Family style suppers take the stress out of having to plate everything up and people also love being able to choose what exactly they want. It’s also a good ice breaker if not everyone at the dinner party knows each other.
Presentation is key! We eat with out eyes long before we taste the food. Consider how you will present the food. It’s really worth thinking about serving plates, and it’s well worth making sure you have a bunch of parlsey, and a bag of salad on hand for helping to make all the plates look lovely and colourful.
Take time to lay the table. Decorate it with flowers, candles and think about investing in some lovely tablecloths, napkins and mats which will all help to make your table look gorgeous! Our whole table was laid and decorated with items from Birdie Fortescue in Burnham Market, Norfolk. The most beautiful shop, where you literally want everything you lay your eyes on.
The best dinner parties I have been to havent been the ones with the best food. They have been the ones where the host has a great time, is relaxed and happy. Sounds corny but it’s true. Just relax, don’t get stressed – prepare in advance and everything will be more than hunky dory.
Obviously having a gorgeous setting to throw your dinner party in is an added bonus…and my sisters house is literally the dream. She has a wheelbarrow of herbs *swoon*
And beautiful flowers around every corner…
Thinking of throwing a Dinner Party soon? Well, stop thinking and start doing! If you snap a picture of it, and upload it to social media with the #ArgosDinnerParty you could be in for a chance to win a set of cutlery, crockery and glasses from Heart of House. Yay. As if you needed any more convincing to invite some friends round. Hello kitchenware bundle!