Top 10 Dinner Party Tips
We’re no experts, but we do love a dinner party! Here are Nisi Living's top 10 dinner party tips:
1. Add a splash of colour and a Mediterranean twist to your aperitifs. A Raspberry Prosecco Bellini (one part raspberry liquer, four parts Prosecco and a sprig of fresh basil) will get your evening off to a flying start.
2. Impress your guests at the start of the evening with some delicious canapes; they can look fancy but in fact are quite simple to prepare. Our favourites are: manchego cheese with quince jelly; cream cheese & smoked salmon blinis; and chorizo & prawn skewers. This will kick-start your party and will be remembered by everyone, no matter how much alcohol is later consumed!
3. Prepare as much as possible beforehand, you want to enjoy the occasion and not be stuck in the kitchen all night. In the cooler seasons, a slow-cooked casserole for the main course and a pre-prepared pudding will mean that once the starter has been served, you can pretty much spend the rest of the evening with your guests.
4. Share the cooking with a Raclette grill (a Swiss invention for melting cheese over meat, pickles and potatoes) or an outdoor table grill for intimate BBQs, creating a fun and stress-free alternative to traditional dinner party cooking.
5. Ask for help! If it’s a large gathering, we’ll often “appoint” someone to serve the drinks. One of our close relatives makes the perfect sommelier at family get-togethers, he knows a Bordeaux from a Burgundy, he loves to mingle and he’s always happy to help!
6. Break up the evening with some form of entertainment. We’re not suggesting you hire the local string quartet, just create a fun diversion from the “eating” part of the evening. Blind wine-tastings, pop quizzes, the "name" game (celebrity names on post-it notes stuck to the forehead) are all good fun - or if you're feeling a little more adventurous, hold a "Greek Night" or "Spanish Night" where the food, the music and, to some extent, the dress code (!) all match the theme.
7. Dine alfresco if the weather and your outside space allows. It’s not something we get to do that often in the UK, so when we do get the opportunity, we must take it. Some time ago, we invested in a heat lamp that clamps itself to the parasol stand and this gives us just enough heat to eat comfortably outside even on slightly cooler summer evenings. The orange glow even makes us look sun-tanned!
8. Accessorise your table setting with an array of metallic dishes for serving nibbles and condiments. Label your wine glasses with inexpensive silver charms, so that every guest knows which is his or her glass! Add a splash of colour with colourful napkins and water glasses. Finally, dim the lights and adorn the table with a collection of tea lights for a perfect ambience.
9. Create a playlist; it’s so easy these days (even for us!) and in no time at all, you can compile the perfect list of tunes to complement the season, the theme, the people or the particular celebration.
10. Prepare for the morning after by stocking up on pastries, fruit juice, fresh ground coffee and, of course, pain killers! A few treats to take your mind off the mess and your fuzzy head.