How to host the perfect post-lockdown dinner party

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As lockdown rules have eased and we’re able to meet indoors with friends and family, it’s the perfect time to catch up with loved ones by hosting your very own dinner party.  Whether it’s your first-time hosting or it’s just been a while since you last cooked for a larger group, these top tips are sure to help you put together the perfect evening and impress your guests.

Create your guest list

Start by creating your guest list, which you’ll need to do a couple of weeks before the evening itself. Current restrictions mean you can only meet indoors with up to six people or a larger group from up to two households, so bear this in mind, or consider hosting an outdoor dinner party if you’d like to invite more guests. For your first dinner party, four to six guests will be ideal to get you used to cooking for a group.

Once you’ve got your guest list and sent out invites, make sure you have enough dishes to serve everyone. A good set of dinnerware will add a touch of class to the table, but it’s best to opt for something simple and timeless such as a nice white dinner set that you’ll be able to use time and again.

Plan your menu carefully

The food is the main event of any dinner party so it’s important to get it right, but make sure you think of yourself as well as your guests. The trick is finding dishes that will impress without causing you too much stress in the kitchen, so it’s always best to select something you’ve cooked before and that you feel comfortable with. Don’t pick out the fanciest recipes if you’re not confident that you can pull them off; it’s much better to go with classic favourites such as pastas, risottos or a simple one-pot dish.

You’ll also need to select a wine that complements the meal you’re serving, doing a bit of research online beforehand to give you confidence in your pairing. For example, the Spanish Gran Cerdo Blanco is a dry white wine that will pair beautifully with tapas, seafood or pasta dishes.

Provide plenty of drinks

A crucial part of any great menu is the drinks and it’s essential that there’s something for everyone. A sure-fire way to succeed on the drinks front is to start with something sparkling (best handed to your guests as they arrive to get them in a festive mood) before moving on to a selection of wines. Investing in an ice bucket will keep your champagne and white wine at the perfect temperature throughout the evening, with red wine served below room temperature.

If you’re going to be serving your guests alcohol all night, you’ll need to keep them hydrated too, so make sure you have a few decanters of water placed on the table and around the house. When the meal is over, let your guests finish that bottle of Gran Cerdo Blanco, clear their plates and move onto the whiskey, before ending the evening with a digestif.

Of course, if you have friends who don’t drink, you’ll need to cater for them as well, perhaps with a signature mocktail or a selection of their favourite soft drinks.

Think about the atmosphere and aesthetic

As well as figuring out the food and drink, you’ll also have to think about the kind of night you hope this will be. If you’re going formal, let your guests know the dress code and make a list of any décor you’ll need to create the atmosphere you have in mind. Even if you’re planning a more casual affair, you may want to make a playlist ahead of time and invest in some new table decorations to make the setting feel that extra bit special. Lastly, make sure you give yourself time to tidy up before your guests arrive and that your hosting area is a tidy and welcoming space.

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