Tips to help you create the ultimate, stress-free dinner party

It's all about preparation, preparation, preparation

By ,
Tips to help you create the ultimate, stress-free dinner party

If you're new to the dinner party scene, you want to make sure your first experience is stress-free and smooth.

To help make sure you're on the top of your game, we've enlisted the help of professional chef, Carine Ottou who is one of 25,000 hosts on the world’s largest social eating platform, VizEat.

So, whether you're cooking for the masses or having an intimate gathering, here's Carine's lowdown on how to have your best dinner party yet. 

1. Check food preferences

"It's always polite to ask your guests in advance if they have any food intolerances, allergies and preferences because you most definitely don't want to serve chicken to a vegetarian, eggs to a vegan or mac and cheese to a guest who's lactose-intolerant."

2. Now is not the time to try new dishes 

"Preparation is key when it comes to dinner parties so don't create extra work for yourself when choosing dinner options. Instead, have a choice of quick and easy things to cook. You pick a family favourite which you know works, like a pan-fried salmon, a beef stew or a tasty soup, then make these meals dinner-party ready by adding garnishes like a swirl of creme fraîche and cracked black pepper in your soup, extra dumplings or herby gremolata to top your stew, and a couple of sprigs of dill or a cheesy crust on top of your baked salmon."

3. decorate, decorate, decorate

"People eat with their eyes so make an effort with the decoration." Get the table talking with some beautiful rose gold cutlery which you could place next to fresh black and white plates and bowls. You could complete the look with some on trend copper salt and pepper grinders.

4. Create a relaxed ambiance 

"Around half an hour before your guests arrive light some candles, which can help make your home feel warm and inviting. Put on some background music which will help break the ice, just make sure the playlist is long enough for the whole evening and changes with the mood of the evening." 

5. Give your guests some time to settle in

"It's polite to offer a welcome drink," says Carine, such as this gin, fig and prosecco cocktail, as well as some nibbles while you are awaiting for your remaining few guests to arrive. You could stock up on some crusty bread, cured meats, olives, sausages on skewers

6. A seating plan is optional

"If my guests know each other, I would definitely let them choose where to sit to keep it casual and fun. However, making a seating plan comes in handy for two scenarios; if the guests don't know each other, or if it is more of a formal dinner."

7. Before serving, Warm up your plates

"As any restaurateur knows, there's nothing worse than being served a cold dinner. So pop your plates in the oven 10 minutes before you're about to serve the main dish."

8. Invest in a wine cooler

"Nobody likes warm wine, especially if it's of the white kind. To stop you from travelling back and forth to the fridge for refills, shop around and stock up on some wine coolers or a small drinks cooler."

9. Make individual desserts

"After a hearty handful of canapés, a starter and a main dish, you're left feeling pretty full. So try making individual portion-sized desserts which don't look so intimidating. You could also offer a lighter option for dessert, like fruit salad so people don’t feel awkward if they’re trying to be a little virtuous."

10. Pack up leftovers in bags for guests

"Everybody loves a doggy bag, so make the lovely gesture and package up your leftover food. Plus this means you won't be stuck with mountains of food for the rest of the week."


Feeling inspired to host your best dinner party yet? Make sure you stock up on everything you need at Asda and George or pop into your local store

Carine photograph by © Karen Harvey