Planning the Perfect Dinner PartyBy HOPP Team
A dinner party is an opportunity to celebrate some of the finer things life has to offer; food, drink, friends, and a little extra indulgence. As the host or hostess, the task of tracking down the best party suppliers for your guests can get overwhelming; from sampling menus to decorating the tables, party planning can feel like a juggling act.
Luckily, our guide to party planning will help you to stay on track, and to organise an unmissable event with the right food, drink, and party suppliers.
Where Should I Host a Dinner Party?
Of course, transforming an evening meal into an unforgettable experience relies on more than just the menu — although it is, inarguably, of paramount importance.
The party will begin long before the first course is served, which means the task of finding the perfect space for your party should not be underestimated. Consider ways of reflecting your food within the surroundings, or giving your guests an experience they will never forget.
- A Stately Home
Ornate architecture, sweeping staircases, and sprawling acres of land for your guests to stroll through as the dessert plates are cleared. Alternatively, bring your guests a little closer to nature by installing a palatial marquee or tent in the gardens.
- A Museum
A forefront of human innovation. Immerse your guests amongst centuries of life and creativity as they sample from an array of flavours, ingredients, and dishes gathered from all over the world.
- An Art Gallery
These spaces offer plenty of room for your guests, and some interesting focal points during the drinks reception. Let it inspire your dinner party entertainment, and hire a live artist to charm your guests between courses.
- A Castle
Put on a veritable, contemporary feast in an ancient banqueting hall. Make use of the vaulted ceilings with a live string quartet, harpist, or solo singer to accompany your guests’ conversation.
- A Private Home
Give your catering team free-run in the kitchen as you and your guests enjoy a more intimate, homestyle affair. For more space, hire a marquee for your garden and eat, drink, and be merry as the sun sets around you.
Talk to the venue management about using your own party suppliers; some will prefer, or require, that you use their in-house team of decorators and caterers.
How Do You Plan a Dinner Party Menu?
It is rarely a simple task to cater to so many different guests at once, but working with a professional party catering team will grant you access to their creativity, knowledge and experience with feeding a roomful of diverse dietary requirements and pallets.
- Consider the Season
Not only are locally sourced and seasonal ingredients a more cost-effective (and environmentally friendly) option, they are also the secret to finding the greatest flavours nature has to offer.
Celebrate the wild bounty of autumn with foraged mushrooms, blackberries and hazelnuts, and warm your guests from the inside with a few heart courses of rich, earthy flavours. Alternatively, remedy the lingering heat of summer with a luxurious spread of mezze, and an endless supply of crisp, piquant salad.
Your fruit, vegetables, meat and fish are all affected by the seasons. The best chefs will know how to use this to their advantage, and create a gorgeous, tantalising menu out of mother nature’s bounty.
Celebrate the art of innovative gastronomy with an array of unprecedented flavours and presentational styles. Work with your party suppliers to devise a feast for all senses, and let your guests sit back and watch as dishes sampling the best colours, flavours and textures are put before them.
- Pay Homage to Your Theme
There are dishes to cater to any number of dinner party themes; they will give you a chance to get creative with your menu, and introduce your guests to flavours and cuisines they may never have sampled before.
Find a catering team with the right skillset and passion to recreate authentic dishes from another culture or, if you are hosting an event inspired by history, a nostalgic feast taken from the pages of another era.
What Drinks Should I Serve?
If you don’t consider yourself much of an authority on wine pairings, speak with your caterer about the best reds and whites to serve with your menu.
For some added excitement, hire a beautiful bar for your home or venue, and work with your bartender to create a menu that perfectly complements the food. Party planners are experts at ensuring that your event stands out from the rest, and that your choices of food, drink, and decor remain cohesive.
Make a feature out of your bar by hiring plenty of soft furnishings, and creating a chill out area for after dinner cocktails. Opt for relaxed seating and low tables, soft lighting, and a carefully designed cocktail menu for your guests to choose from.
How Should I Decorate my Dining Table?
You can rent your dinner party tableware along with the rest of your equipment, or through your catering team. Ensure that you have enough linens, cutlery (enough for each course, dessert, and buttering the bread), glassware and coffee cups. Create minimalist place settings for a modern or relaxed event, or follow the traditional formal table setting etiquette.
Your florist can work with seasonal flowers and greenery that will harmonise with the natural elements in your dishes. You should decide whether you are using one long table, or several round tables, in order to ensure that you have ordered enough centrepieces.
The ultimate mood lighting. Using different colours and heights between your florals will add layers, and make for a more luxurious and immersive atmosphere.
- Escort Cards and Place Cards
Although a smaller detail, designing your stationery to reflect the theme and formality of your event is a wonderful way of tying the decor together. Escort cards are used to guide guests to the right table, which is useful if you have chosen a more scattered, bistro-style layout. If your guests are to be seated together at one long table, direct them to their seats with place cards at each table setting.
How to Entertain at a Dinner Party
Greet your guests with a champagne reception, accompanied by the dulcet tones of a live musician. A solo pianist, harpist, or singer will provide a light ambience to promote conversation.
As you dine, consider a string quartet to set the mood. For a more relaxed event, an acoustic guitarist and singer.
If you have the space, why not arrange your tables in the style of a dinner theatre, and rent a stage for your live acts? Professional dancers or a comedy dinner show will put an exciting twist on a traditional party.