Corporate catering events can be a family affair which also great because it feels like you are all a family in the same company. Summer is almost upon us and there is nothing better than spending quality time with friends and family, although if your family is like mine its more likely to be the former. With that in mind it’s time to dust off the gravy train, polish the crystal glasses and re-organize your iPod play list for the ultimate dinner party play list, after all ambience is of the utmost importance is it not? So let’s get started with planning that ultimate dinner party that your friends and family will be talking about for many summers to come!
First up is the guest list. Now this shouldn’t be to big or to small, after all this is a dinner party, not a house party, or an intimate double date. Now I would be inclined to keep friends and family separate but that’s a personal choice, the most important thing is to get the balance right. Numbers wise I would suggest 6 – 8 maximum as its always good to stay with even numbers, that way, there is less chance of someone being left out when the conversations start flowing. Don’t forget to take into account the size of your dinner table as you don’t want to be bringing in the patio furniture!
Couples are a good bet if you’re a couple yourself and you can always add in the odd singletons but as before try to keep it symmetrical, ie you, your partner, 2 couples and two singles who may be of interest to each other. Obviously tailor to the numbers agreed on. Besides if the singles hit it off you maybe increasing your double dating options. If you happen to be single yourself you may decide to invite only singles or mix it up with the odd couple. It helps if people have met before or try to make sure the guests may have something in common, I always find it easier to get on with fellow Arsenal fans therefore my wife is often mindful of this minor fact. Spurs fans are seldom welcome!
Once you have the guest list sorted you should think about the music for the evening. It always helps to have some background music to drown out any awkward silences that may or may not crop up. We have had dinner parties with dance music, hip/hop, r’n’b but to be honest although these are genres of music my wife and I enjoy it’s not exactly the best music to set the tone for an evening of interesting chat, stories and to relax your guests, so I would suggest using in iPod or similar and create a play list for the evening. Personally I like to mix things up a little and would start with some modern dance music or something upbeat to start with, this is for when people arrive, crack open a drink and are mingling before dinner is served. Following this I would go with some easy listening or soul, something soft for the sit down meal. In the past I’ve used the likes of Carlo Santana, Jack Johnson, Katie Melua, Lionel Richie etc. Then once the food has been suitably banished from people’s plates you can move back to more uplifting music, which maybe required after good food and fine wine. Don’t forget the coffee!!
Once the music has been decided on and lined up for the evening you may want to consider setting the table. Now we always like to keep the table top looking classy and modern with a two-tone colour scheme. Using traditional earthy colours such as browns and blacks is always a good way to go, but there is no harm in experimenting, so feel free to express yourself especially if you have themed the evening. It’s always a good idea to use matching dinnerware where possible, for example dinner plates, cutlery, or glassware. My wife and I are big fans of crystal glassware so we love any excuse to show off our latest additions, especially if they are sets. We tend to try to keep everything as modern as possible. The type of cutlery used will depend on the food but make sure your guest have all the tools required to enjoy their meal. No good serving soup as a starter and handing them each a fork!
The amount of glassware used will depend on your availability but we like to use wine and whisky decanters usually at different stages of the night, along with wine and champagne glasses. We even have some crystal glass candle holders to add to the sophistication! If crystal glassware is not readily available or appealing there is always glass equivalents, but lets stay away from plastic for now.
The next and final two items are the food and drink, now some would say its best to plan these before anything else, and after reading what I’ve already written I wouldn’t disagree!
Now I’m no expert on food, call me old-fashioned (or sexist, you know you thought it) but the wife is far more qualified, but I believe you should decide on the number of courses first. Three is always a fine choice. Ideas for food could be a long and drawn out affair, so search the web for some inspiration.
When it comes to wine you may need to refer to above as the food choice is going to be critical. As a general rule use white wine with white meats, ie chicken and fish, and use red wine with red meats. Don’t forget to offer your guests water when at the table, and after wine and dinner you may want to recharge the batteries with some well-earned coffee. To add to the evening I like to offer guests some Cuban cigars to take the dining experience to the next level. Of course if you do this, make sure you have cigar cutters on hand and the appropriate tipple, usually brandy or whisky, but whatever floats your boat.
So I hope my article has been of some use, and that you are successful in hosting your next dinner party. Bon appetite!
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