Food is the one thing which every single one of us in the world has in common with the other, but our individual experiences of food vary quite vastly, with those of us lucky enough to be able to eat pretty much what we want to eat, when we want to eat it going as far as moulding our entire lives around our experience of food. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and if anything I think that’s how life should be. That’s how life was for our ancestors and that’s how life is for all the other animals which roam the face of the earth.
Think about a pride of lions following their munching down on some kill which they worked hard to get. It’s more of a social experience which involves grooming, power dynamics, and the essence of life manifested in the simple act of getting fed. That’s what you should keep in mind every time you’re tasked with throwing a dinner party, and it really doesn’t matter who is in attendance. Everybody should be treated with the same respect and with that, here are some of the pointers I have which come together to make up my guide to dinner parties.
Look, if you were going to invite guests over for some quickly-heated frozen meals to be served instantly as they arrive, you might as well have hosted a board-game night or something like a Poker night. What I’m getting at is that for a dinner party to be worth its reference as a dinner party, the preparation of the food as part of the experience has to play a major role. That means as far as is within reason, all food items should be served as freshly-prepared as possible.
That’s where the two-stage prep comes in, with the first stage being that of prepping those ingredients which require a bit more time to come into their own. For example, if you’re going to be baking a cake to serve as part of your dessert, don’t bake the whole cake before the guests arrive and then inevitably serving it once it has already cooled down. Rather, you would perhaps just prepare the cake mix and chill it if that’s what’s required, to be baked and served hot out of the oven once it’s dessert time.
The same applies for all the other courses – if you’re serving steak for example, the guests at the dining room table should be able to smell it cooking while you pop in every so often to check on it.
Make an effort with the dining room table
Presentation plays a very big part of what accounts for a proper dinner party, so put some effort into the setting of the dining room table. Encourage inclusive interactions with as intimate a setting as you can possible manage so that everybody can communicate with anybody at any time, and so that everybody can participate in any general discussions that break out.
Guests should be able to FEEL the party atmosphere, so bring out the expensive Chinas and special scented candles if you have to!
This can get quite tricky because there is always a very fine line to contend with when it comes to the entertainment forming part of a dinner party. Sometimes just the chatter amongst the diners is enough, but other times you might need to get the party started by kicking things up a notch, such as perhaps hosting a dress-up session, karaoke, etc. The bottom line is the food alone cannot account for all the entertainment.
Making sure to cater to all dietary needs
This is a no-brainer – chances are you’ll probably be well aware of any special needs of the guests you’re hosting at your dinner party, so there should be something like a vegan alternative for the vegans and people should be asked how they’d like their steaks cooked, for example.
Completing the experience
As per the traditions surrounding formal dinner parties, your guests will probably bring a gift along, such as a bottle of wine. Return the favour with something they can take away with them, whether it’s something physical like a snack, or just an experience which you all take part in to symbolise the conclusion of a great dinner party together.