To celebrate our Summer Dining event taking place across all EZ Living Furniture stores and online, this week we are talking about dinner parties, recipes and etiquette! Throwing a dinner party sounds like a very grown up task, but in fact it can be a really fun alternative to a night in the pub. Whether you’re celebrating something in particular or are just looking to organise a night in with friends and family, there are steps you can take to ensure your dinner party is a roaring success.
Planning is Key
You will more than likely be deciding a few days or even weeks beforehand to host a dinner party. It’s important to start planning as early as possible so that you are completely prepared for the event. Set a date, and invite your guests. A dinner party will generally have 6 or more guests, but of course it will depend on your seating arrangements at home. If you like to entertain guests on a regular basis, an extendable dining table is a great investment. Check with your guests for any special dietary requirements or allergies, and plan your menu around that.
For the freshest ingredients, do your shopping on the morning of the dinner party. You might plan your menu around special offers at the supermarket or local butchers. Ask your butcher for advice – they will be able to advise on the best cut of meat (or fish of course)and the best way to cook it. They can also tell you how much you’ll need for the number of guests. Make sure you have plenty of fresh bread, vegetables and baking ingredients (if you’re making dessert from scratch). Don’t forget the wine! Plan for a half bottle of wine per guest at a minimum, and don’t mix and match the type of grape. If you have any non-drinkers attending, ensure you have an alternative drink for them.
Setting the Table (and the scene)
Start tidying the house the day before so that you are not rushing about before your guests arrive. Ensure any area your guests will have access to is clean, including the dining area, living room and guest bathroom. Ensure there are plenty of clean hand towels, toilet paper and soap in the bathroom and light a candle to give it a pleasant ambiance. Your table setting is next. Begin with a freshly ironed tablecloth – you can’t go wrong with a crisp white cloth. If you are going all out, you can set a charger plate at each setting – this is a large decorative plate that all courses will be set upon. You could also use a piece of slate or even a slice or timber!
Next, set your cutlery. From left to right, begin with the salad or starter fork, then dinner fork. On the opposite side, place your dinner knife and then a soup spoon (if there is a soup course). These should be placed approx 1 inch from the bottom edge of the table, and approx .5 inches of space between each piece of cutlery. Above the plate, place your dessert spoon horizontally with the handle facing to the right. A bread plate should be placed to the top left of the charger plate, and a butter knife laid horizontally across it with the handle facing to the right.
Next, place your stemware or glassware. A water glass should be placed to the top right of the charger plate, just above the dinner knife. The white wine glass should be placed to the right of that and slightly below, followed by the red wine glass. Ensure you have plenty of iced water at the table. White wine should be kept on ice, and red wine allowed to reach room temperature before serving (or placed in a decanter).
Don’t forget the smaller items, such as salt, pepper, butter and serving dishes of salad dressings. Accompanying sauces for the main course should be brought out at the same time as that dish. Displaying a pretty floral centerpiece will make your dinner table, but ensure it is not so high that your guests would have to strain to see over it. Candles are an ideal solution for a centerpiece too.
Finishing touches such as folded napkins, menu cards and place cards will add a really elegant touch to your dinner party. Check out our Pinterest board for ideas!
Welcome your guests personally at the front door, take their coats and offer them a drink on arrival. If dinner isn’t ready, offering some canapes is a good idea, and gives you some extra time to prepare. Music is also essential for your dinner party. If there are moments of silence, there is nothing worse than the sound of clinking plates and cutlery. Some soft music in the background will overcome this. If you are worried about conversation, prepare some talking points beforehand – current affairs, reality TV shows and new movies are always good conversation starters.
Check on your guests regularly, and ensure you have plenty of food – no one should go home hungry! If it’s a nice evening and you have some outdoor living space, place some pretty lanterns or hanging lights around the patio or garden. Invite your guests outside after dinner and serve homemade cocktails or digestifs. You can then relax knowing that your fabulous dinner party has been a success!
EZ Living Furniture have a beautiful range of dinnerware and glassware in all stores, as well as finishing touches like napkins, table runners and centrepieces. A selected range of these is also available online.