Winter is prime dinner party time. It's cold outside, warm inside, you can gather lots of people around a big dining table and cook big, warm, wholesome, scrummy food that everyone will remember for months to come! But there's a difference between throwing just a 'dinner party' and an 'impressive dinner party', and the in-house chef from ILVE Applicances, Julia McKnight has revealed a few handy tips on how to make it so.
Use a theme for the dinner. It could be cultural: using meat, vegetables, and other ingredients pertaining to a particular culture, or revolve around clothing, music or anything else really unique. It could even be around a colour, which can be a lot of fun and also quite a challenge. No matter the theme, it’s a great way to get guests talking and break the ice: everyone brings a different part of the meal, feels part of the evening, and best of all, your job is made easier!
Don't forget the charm of a nice invitation
When you send out your invitation, be it handwritten (bonus points!) or via email, ask your guests to name a couple of their favourite songs, so you can include these on a playlist at your event. Ask them to nominate their favourite raw ingredient, too, and try to include these in the meal. This is a great way to involve guests in the event, and this collaborative approach adds more warmth and inclusiveness to proceedings. And it's a guarantee they'll eat everything!
Don't forget dessert
Dessert is like the icing on the cake (almost literally!) of any dinner party and rounds the occasion off nicely.
If you're after a snazzy dessert, you can always have a look here, but you can always try a soft baked pineapple as it appeals to meat-eaters and vegetarians alike! Simply peel a whole pineapple, roll it in brown sugar and ground cinnamon, secure it on the rotisserie, and cook it for 40 minutes on 180C (or until the sugar has caramelised). Remove from the oven, slice, and plate-up with vanilla ice cream and a little rum. Sprinkle with some flaked, toasted almonds and there you have it: a simple, delicious, slightly boozy, somewhat tropical dessert!
Serving it always makes it the pièce de résistance
Dessert is the last course and always the most memorable, so ensure you act accordingly. Serve dessert on large individual plates but offer three different small desserts that complement each other e.g. an individual seasonal fruit tartan; pistachio ice cream alongside a pale green meringue; and, third, a fresh berry jelly in a shot glass. Serve the trio on one large plate, as it’s visually impressive and encourages sharing. The three desserts mentioned can all be made on the day of or a couple of days prior to your dinner, so this is also an efficiency win.
Don't leave your guests wanting
You could always try giving your guests a small gift to take home. Something simple can never be overlooked, so if you're particularly good at crafts (we have some fab options over on BHG Shop) try putting together something cute. Maybe you could even make some little chocolates and gift-wrap them! It doesn’t have to be large or elaborate: just a memorable take-home pressie and the options are endless!