ONE of the things I love to do is to get a group of pals together and throw a little dinner party.
Admittedly it’s not something I’ve done too much of lately. (Early pregnancy kind of puts a spanner in the work when it comes to this kind of thing!)
But over the years I’ve hosted many a dinner and a number of other types of parties too – eurovision party or afternoon tea anyone?!
There’s just something about getting a small gang together and feeding them good food and plenty of booze, which makes my heart swell.
It’s what life is all about isn’t it?
And as I’ve learned over the years, hosting a dinner party or such kind of gathering does not have to be stressful. (Unless you’re on Come Dine With Me, then yep, I imagine your stress levels go through the roof!)
Italian bakery brand Crosta & Mollica asked me to share some of my top tips on how to host an easy dinner party or gathering, so here they are…
I KEEP THINGS INTIMATE
The smaller the group, the better I feel, particularly when you’re all tucking into a feast around the table. For full blown parties, naturally you want the opposite of course.
But when it comes to free flowing conversation, giggles and loveliness, I personally find that smaller groups are often better.
I MAKE THE TABLE LOOK PRETTY
Not grand or over the top and nothing too fancy. Just neat and pretty with some flowers, candles, a tablecloth (great for covering up Elsie’s paint sploshes on the table!) and my loveliest crockery and glasses.
I KEEP THINGS EASY, ESP. WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD!
I know there are people out there who love slaving over a hot stove, but I’m happy to admit that I am not one of them.
But. That doesn’t mean I can’t provide good food, nor that I don’t absolutely love it.
Like so many of us, my time seems shorter than ever these days, so keeping food options easy and serving dishes that can be created or prepared easily works well for me, keeping me happy and those stress levels down.
Serving food that people can pick at and dive into is one of my favourite things to do, especially when it comes to starters.
For example, one of my trusty starters is an Italian inspired mezze that features food like delicious Italian meats, creamy balls of mozzerella, juicy tomatoes, olives, fresh basil and then some unusual but delicious Italian bread treats like these crispy Italian dough rings, known as Tarallini or some Grissini Breads.
These tasty morsels (kindly sent by Crosta & Mollica) are just the kind of easy but delicious food that I love to serve. And eat.
Easy yes. Delicious? You betcha! Food that can be shared across a table is just a lovely and relaxed way to feed your guests.
I PROVIDE PLENTY OF BOOZE
Not everyone drinks alcohol of course (including me at the moment) but most of my close pals and loved ones have been known to enjoy a tipple in their time. ;-) So when they come to me, I like to make sure they have plenty to drink if they so wish.
Keeping the wine, beer or cocktails flowing is all part of being a great host.
I mean come on, there’s nothing worse is there than when you’re at someone’s house and you’re sat waiting patiently for ages, with an empty glass and a parched mouth.
I CLEAR THE CLUTTER
The bottom of our house is open plan so even though I know that my friends won’t mind if my house is a bit of a tip, I still always try to clear away most of the clutter to make it look more welcoming.
So Elsie’s toys get put away in her cupboard, the kitchen sides are tidied up and wiped down and magazines and piles of letters are all hidden and stashed away.
It’s not about the house looking perfect, but welcoming and calm.
I PAY ATTENTION TO LIGHTING & MUSIC
Quiet background music is always a winner which is why I always leave the radio in the kitchen on or get my husband to sort out some music for everyone to enjoy.
And when it comes to lighting, I always opt for candlelight and/or fairy lights to help make my home look and feel more appealing. I ask you, who doesn’t look better in soft, flattering light?!
FINALLY, I ENJOY IT & DON’T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY
Entertaining friends or family is a privilege but should also be a pleasure!
So don’t worry if anything goes wrong, like you burn the dinner or the electricity goes off. Get creative, think on your feet and takes things as they come.
As long as your guests are fed and watered and made to feel welcome, really you cannot go wrong.
Disclaimer – this post was created in collaboration with Crosta & Mollica.