Going out is fun and all but sometimes you just want an intimate dinner in your own backyard. And while entertaining is fun once everyone has arrived, it can be super stressful getting everything prepared. But, newsflash, it doesn’t have to be. If the aim of the game is to hang out with your friends and not to become the next Blumenthal, then put down Ottolenghi’s NOPI cookbook, embrace some simple sharing dishes and break open the wine.
We’ve teamed up with MadFish Wines to help you throw your ultimate stress free dinner party.
#1 Bite The Bullet
Pick a weekend you’re free and just send that text out. Thinking about it for weeks and wondering who to invite will only make you stress more.
#2 Plan Ahead
Choose some meals you can make in advance. In summer, a BBQ with a spread of colourful salads always looks impressive, plus someone will always offer to man the BBQ so you can pretend to be busy and drink more wine. In winter, a few curries or anything you can pop in the slow cooker work wonders for a big group of people and everyone will be immediately impressed by the smell wafting through your house by the time they arrive. Also remember to make sure you’ve got things like ice, napkins and enough serving platters.
You will no doubt have a heap of people replying to your invitation asking what they can bring. Don’t be shy. If you hate making dessert get someone else to bring it. If you’ve got a friend who makes a killer cheese platter, tell them to knock one up for you (they’ll be so pleased with all the praise they get when they walk in it with it that they’ll forget you even asked). And if you really want to do all the food, tell everyone else to bring some wine.
#4 Think About Drinks
Keep drinks simple! Start with some sparkling to get everyone in the right mood, then move on to wine. Jazz up your water with some fresh fruit and herbs like lemon and mint, strawberries and basil or orange and coriander.
#5 Manage Your Music
Music is not even a worry these days thanks to Spotify. Hook your phone up to a speaker, browse the dinner category and pick your poison.
#6 Set The Table
Flowers on the other hand can take a bit more time. Greenery can be silly expensive so why not go for a little urban forage around your neighbourhood. Now, we’re not condoning thievery, but your neighbours surely won’t mind you giving their overgrown bushes a little prune. Then throw it everywhere! Cover as much of your table with flowers as humanly possible. People will be crazy impressed.
#7 Speed Clean
Don’t stress yourself with a major clean before your friends arrive, they are just going to mess the place up anyway. Just put all your junk away, wipe down the kitchen and ALWAYS start the night with an empty sink or dishwasher.
Get a glass of sparkling into everyone’s hand the minute they arrive and have the cheese platter or some other nibbles ready to go and let people linger over those for a while. If you’ve got the space, nibble away from the dinner table so there’s some excitement to be had as people sit down before the main event!
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Image credit: Nancy Hanna