We’ve all seen Come Dine With Me enough to know what not to do at a dinner party, but today we’re talking about all the things you should be doing. So without further ado, here are our top 10 essentials for the perfect dinner party.
1 – The playlist
You need your music to be at just the right volume and at the perfect tempo to keep the conversation flowing and the awkward silences to a minimum. Go retro with a little bit of Miles Davis, be brave and throw in some Norah Jones and maybe even introduce a little bit of Ed Sheeran. Just make sure you’ve queued enough songs to last the whole evening!
2 – The apron
You’ve agreed to be chef for the night so you’ll need to look the part, skip the chef whites though, all you need is a cute apron. I love this chicken print apron for a little countryside chic or this “emotional cooking” apron to make everybody laugh.
3 – The centrepiece
Nurture your creative side and awake your inner craft monster by searching “centrepiece” on Pinterest to find literally thousands of ideas. Mild warning: you may or may not accidentally spend hours planning an imaginary wedding when using this technique.
4 – The tableware
In my house, we’ve got a stocked up collection of cute vintage crockery from charity shops and car boot sales and we love serving up food on mismatched plates. But if you’re looking for the perfect set, go bold with the Habari collection at Anthropologie or keep it simple with the John Lewis Nordic range.
5 – The details
Each little detail from table confetti to silverware and cocktail napkins is an opportunity to inject your personality into your perfect evening. Personalised place names can be a really cute finishing touch – splurge on some mini chalk boards if you’re feeling quirky or, as I often do, just have at it with some card and a gold pen. Also, don’t forget to stock up on your favourite tealights!
6 – The wine
I’m no wine buff, but that’s what the Internet is for, right? There are plenty of resources out there to help you work out what the best wines in your price range are and which ones you should be buying. I particularly like Wine Folly’s wine and food pairing chart for a helping hand whilst menu planning. Don’t forget to bring out your stash of the lavolio Nutty Forest collection, the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine!
7 – The dessert
If you want your guests to go home with something to talk about, you need “that dessert”. The dessert that gets brought up in conversation for years to come when everybody gets together. There are two routes to this scenario, get your apron on and make some magic in the kitchen, or cheat a little bit – I’ve got you covered either way. This salted caramel chocolate torte recipe from BBC Good Food is bound to go down a treat (top tip: spray it gold for the wow factor), but if you’re pushed for time then order in this chocolate orange tart from Marks & Spencer.
8 – The cheese
Cheese is a must for a sophisticated dinner party. The perfect cheese board is an easy thing to master once you know how. The key is to always include a couple of unusual condiments – quince paste is glorious – some posh biscuits, and really good quality cheese. Avoid supermarket cheese boards at all costs. I recently had a delicious experience with the Alex James collection at Pong Cheese, so if you don’t have a reliable deli nearby then I recommend you order from there. Remember, the Fruit Garden Lavolio collection is every cheese boards best friend.
9 – The games
Without a little fun and games, a dinner party is just dinner. Yes, you’ll probably end up playing charades at some point, but investing in some killer board games is going to bring you lots of laughs for many evenings to come. Try Cards Against Humanity if you’re into dark humour or Articulate if you love fast paced team games.
10 – The lavolio
We couldn’t very well discuss the perfect dinner party without including the most sophisticated treat of all. Each Lavolio collection is grown up confectionary heaven, buy tins for all your guests as a luxurious indulgence for their taxi home or bring them out at the end of your meal to polish off with the dessert wine. My favourite is the ‘Fruit Garden’ collection featuring Cherry Romantico – who could resist?