It all seemed like such a great idea to invite some friends around for a dinner party – you’d have bags of time, you’d be able to enjoy the occasion looking your best and the meal would be safely cooking while you were making any last minute adjustments. The problem was that your job, your social life, and a thousand other things got in the way.
Here are a few hacks to ensure that you’re always in control of the situation, you can save time and you actually enjoy your dinner party.
Check out dietary requirements
The moment you’ve issued the invitations, find out if anyone has any allergies. With so many people preferring a gluten-free diet or having problems with lactose – let alone the number of people who are vegans or vegetarians, you should ask in advance of your big occasion. You don’t want to find out that most of your guests are vegan when you’ve prepared a beef Wellington for the party. Once you’ve got these essentials sorted you can devise your menu.
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to serve, make a gigantic list and source all of your ingredients. Don’t forget napkins and candles on this list. It’s easier to stick to vegetables that are in season, as they’ll taste delicious and will be available in local shops and supermarkets. You could save even more time by ordering your shopping online. Order the wine, beer and soft drinks at the same time.
Kitchen goddesses are rare
The divine Nigella Lawson may have assured us that we’re all kitchen goddesses – but few of us actually are. The answer? Cheat. A meal of homemade burgers, easy to prepare in advance and delicious, or even steak accompanied with some French Fries. Now that’s much easier to plonk in the oven when you don’t have time to fuss around making triple-cooked chips.
Prepare the room
Make sure that all your crockery and cutlery is clean and ready to use, and the saucepans are out ready. You can lay the table well in advance of your dinner party. Don’t forget flowers – they can totally enhance the ambience of a room. If you want music to accompany your celebration then make sure you’ve downloaded all of your favourite tracks on Spotify.
Keep it simple
If you’re having starters, keep them simple. Jamie Oliver has some great ideas and all of these entail very little forward planning and preparation time. Dips are easy to create – and there’s little better than a delicious aubergine dip. If you want to really impress, try some devils on horseback. You can make these in advance, place them in the fridge and put them in the oven for 15 minutes when your guests arrive.
Prep work for the vegetables can be done the night before. As for your main course, choose something that you know works, you’ve cooked before and can be left to its own devices for a while. Stews or pies are great in the winter.
Puddings should be fresh and light
There’s nothing simpler than an Eton Mess for pudding. You can even get your guests to assemble this wonderful creation themselves – simply provide them with the fruit, whipped cream and meringue and let them have fun. A splash of booze always ensures that this dish is a success.
The secret to a successful dinner party lies in the preparation and in you feeling confident that your guests will have a fantastic time. You’ll look calm and collected, your food will wow your friends and you’ll all have a great evening.