Let’s brush up on our classic dinner party etiquette and learn some new tips to make hosting a party a breeze. Plus, enter to win a classy looking dutch oven from Le Creuset’s Black & White Collection.
All images by Le Creuset of America
“Never be the first to arrive at a party or the last to go home, and never, never be both.” —David Brown
Sharing a meal together and cooking for loved ones and friends is a part of forming a community and connecting with each other, thanks to food. For ages, people have taken on the task and carried on the tradition of hosting lavish or simple dinner parties to celebrate a special moment and invite guests into their homes.
While it may seem like a daunting task, hosting your favorite eaters for a delicious meal is totally doable and can even be a blast for you, too. Read on and be inspired to hose a gathering with these tips.
In celebration of classic dinner party customs and the launch of The Black & White Collection, Le Creuset is giving away a black and a white dutch oven. Enter to win and start planning your next dinner!
Don’t Forget Drinks!
All too easily we can get caught up in planning the food menu and end up serving water and a few mismatched bottles of wine that you had around, but do not quite pair with the meal. Take time to plan one easy cocktail that can be mixed ahead, chilled, and served over ice with a simple garnish upon request. Similarly, visit your favorite wine store plenty of time before and ask for help pairing with what you plan to serve. You don’t have to break the bank! Ask what great wines are on sale at the time based on the food. If you have a large party, ask you store if they have a case discount. Choose one or two cases of wines to serve that you enjoy, that way if there is any left you know you will drink it again.
Have the drinks ready to go before your guests step in the day. That way they can be entertained, loosen up, and have something to sip when they arrive while you finish up any last minute preparations you have to do. Have some wine set out with a few appetizers like a nuts, cheese, or olives and serve in wine carafes for a great look that lets your guests easily pour for themselves.
The best dinners are ones complete with fun guests and interesting conversations abound. As the host, you may feel like it is your job to always keep the talking going, but if you set things up in a fun way you won’t have to feel on the spot. Servings interesting or nostalgic dishes is a tried and true way to get your guests talking about something we all love — food!
Serve pre-dinner drinks to get your diners in a chatty mood. Similarly, consider setting place cards around the table so that guests have fun finding their seat and meeting someone they may not know very well. Ditch the typical cardstock idea and go for natural tones like leaves or stones. Wine corks or old postcards also set a great vibe. Without getting crafty, you can also set the table with these reusable place cards that can double as cheese markers, too. Stimulate party talk even further by encouraging talking games like “Would you rather…?” or filling a bowl with fun conversation starter ideas that gets passed around just like a dish of food.
Party etiquette says male and female hosts should sit at opposite ends of the table. But rules were meant to be broken, right?
Setting the Table
Set the mood and the scene perfectly with an appropriately decorated table scape. Bring your friends together by gathering them around the focal point of the table. If you are using simple black and white dishes and serving ware, set it on a bright backdrop or table cloth to make them pop. Layer different shades of one color or mix-and-match with complementary of contrasting colors.
If you are looking to add a beautiful floral centerpiece to you table you can do so without spending a fortune. Check out a grocery store (Trader Joe’s flowers are so affordable!) or local farmers market to see what is fresh. To make your roses look luscious, open, and full, place them in warm water for an hour and then gently open each bud with your fingers and by blowing on the petals to great a “just opened” look.
Even if you are serving multiple wines, water, and coffee, don’t put more than five glasses at each place setting at once, otherwise the table will be overcrowded and look it, too.
Plating like a Pro
Choose recipes that can be cooked or baked in beautiful dishes that can then go straight to the table. You will save yourself time having to transfer it to a serving platter and doing extra dishes. If you decide to present each dish to your guests already plated, then remember to use large enough plates to leave blank space around the food and to arrange in odd numbered groups that are more pleasing to the eye. We recommend going a more casual route, though. Family-style dinners let your guests relax and interact in the informal atmosphere.
Three plating tips: Warm the plates before the food comes to the table or is placed on them. Reserve some of the key herb of vegetable ingredients for a garnish. Learn to make an elegant ‘quenelle’ scoop for ice cream or whipped cream dessert components.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dines well.” —Virginia Woolf
The Honest Cooking editorial team handpicks inspiring culinary stories to share with you that we think are beautiful. We strive to create an inspiring place for culinary exploration, salivating recipes, interesting personalities and stories.