This time last week I was lying in bed confused as to how I could be quite as exhausted as I was. I planned and cooked my first dinner for eight friends. I made canapés and cocktails, an asparagus starter, a main and two desserts. Somehow everything went smoothly, luckily I had lots of help from my friend and I think everyone had a nice time but I thought I would share a few things I learnt along the way…
1. Preparation is key
I think everything only went smoothly because I had planned everything, from what time to peel the potatoes to how long I had to get ready. I planned everything I was cooking a few days before, everything I had to buy and absolutely everything I had to do. I like to have things written down and I think having a check list really helps insure everything goes to plan.
2. It’s far more expensive than I ever imagined
I think this was partly because it was my first time doing it but the bill ended up being much higher than I imagined. I did however end up buying a few things which I didn’t use but at least I know for next time. I also think that next time I think I might ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine for the meal as alcohol is particularly expensive.
3. Don’t worry too much about people’s likes/dislikes
I know this sounds silly but I don’t think it’s all that important as long as they still have enough food and you are catering to allergies/vegetarians. As I was cooking for my friends I knew that no one would be too offended if the starter has something they didn’t like in it and would be quite happy to work around it. I offered to make them something else but they simply removed the part they didn’t like and ate the rest.
4. It’s incredibly tiring
My dinner was at 7.30PM but I had to start planning/cooking at 2.30PM and then the next morning having had gone to bed at 3AM I was up again doing dishes and hoovering.
5. Plan a little entertainment
As it was a Christmas dinner I planned a little Secret Santa, it helps break the ice between people that don’t know each other too well and just gave the table something to do in between courses.
6. Keep it simple
If I were to do it all again I would probably lose the canapés I made for before dinner. They were fiddly to make and I think my friends would have been just as happy (actually happier) with store-bought garlic bread stuck in the oven.
What are your tips to hosting a successful dinner party?