Having a dinner party is a much friendlier way of spending a Friday if one is not feeling too excited about going out for heavy drinking session at a club. In fact providing an informal dinner service from the comfort of your own home is a much more cost effective and relaxed way of socialising with close friends and family. The more tricky part of holding a dinner party like this is knowing when to begin preparation for your meal and how you intend to serve the dinner.
However, often dinner parties can go wrong by cooking at the wrong time, preparing food that may not have cooked properly, or worse still the host is not entertaining the guest very well. Providing a good dinner service does not necessarily mean that, you should serve up the food on to plates for everyone and that is it. Dinner parties should always more interactive than this and should be about communicating with friends rather than focus solely on the food.
You could arrange to have various different entertainments such as an envelope of activities for guests to complete before the end of the night; produce anecdotal stories about the food you have prepared; ensure musical entertainment; or even prepare tiny gifts or doggy bags for the guests to enjoy at the end of the night. The dinner service itself should also feel like an excitement over showing off your culinary skills rather than a chore. There are a few things to consider before arranging a dinner party, one of which involves much preparation of your own.
The first and most important of all tasks is to select the perfect meal, which is simple for you to cook and has a historical reference to it. This makes for a good conversation starter and livens up everyone's spirit for the evening. The food should be chosen based on its flavour and popularity. People judge their food based on their sense of smell, so if you get this right then you are likely to get the dinner party right.
The second step is to prepare a doggy bag. This is not for leftovers, but for people to take home in order for them to remember the party. These can be in the form of tiny biscuits, sugared almonds, sweets, homemade chocolates and a little thank you card. Part of putting on a good dinner service at home is to make your guests feel welcomed and relaxed.
Have some games ready such small missions for the guests to complete, making sure you have a winning prize and a fun punishment for the losers. This can be introduced after the dinner, making it something for people to look forward to so the best part of the night was not just focussed on food. Keeping the group of people interactive throughout the night makes it look like the host has a genuine care and concern for their guest.
Make sure that you have set the table up in a presentable manner so that each person has enough space to eat and move about. Arrange the food so everybody are able to reach the food, use your good crockery and decorate the table. It might be a good idea to put small name tags or a little gift on the plate for people to take home.
Finally always prepare a good selection of finger foods, so that when the conversations during the evening become tiresome you will be able to introduce some more food for those looking to nimble on something extra. It is always a good idea to have this all prepared in advanced and keep them warmed up (unless they are cold snacks).
Anna Stenning is an expert on providing a good dinner service, having worked in the service industry before.