Inspiration

Gatherings go glam

Forget the old dinner party crockery and napkins collecting dust in the cupboard. As we finally welcome friends and family again, it’s time to pull out all the stops.

Food, drink, friends, good conversation: a dinner party is, in the end, a simple and enduring combination of ingredients, made unique by what hosts and guests infuse the occasion with. So to help you make every evening a special occasion, our hospitality experts share their top tips…

01

Make it personal

Sending a handwritten invitation will make your soirée feel like more of an occasion than tagging the invite onto the end of a text exchange or mentioning it in passing. With the rise of e-invites, the written invitation has very much lost its popularity which means that a personal invitation is surprisingly unexpected. Get the word out in style with hand-engraved invitations from Smythson – and while you’re at it pick up a pack of Smythson’s elegant gilt-edged place cards. As the brand of choice of the British royal family, rest assured your guests will be in the very best company.

02

Set the scene

Table setting needn’t be complicated say the cutlery experts at Zwilling, who have been making high-quality kitchen products and tableware for more than 280 years. Think about how you’ll serve the meal, with cutlery at the outside, left to right, and then working your way towards the plate as the meal proceeds. Forks are placed to the left of the plate, knives and spoons to the right. Bread-and-butter plates sit above the forks, to the left of the place setting, and stemware is set above and to the right of the dinner plate.

03

Invite nature in

A beautiful centrepiece is an instant talking point so get this right and the conversation will be flowing before the wine is even served. Steer away from anything too fragrant – the scent of your food should be the aromatic focus of your dinner party – and take care not to make your floral masterpiece too high or it’ll quickly become a conversation killer. Think outside the box when it comes to vases – a series of bud vases arranged down the length of a rectangular table makes as much of a statement as a profusion of petalled blooms in the centre of a round dinner table. The White Company has a great selection of glass options that come in various shapes and sizes for added visual interest.

04

Break the ice

Nothing warms guests up to the occasion like a great aperitif. Try the raspberry gin cocktail, a twist on the classic that combines the fruity sweetness of fresh raspberries with a bite of citrus. Muddle the juice of a lemon together with a simple syrup, a swig of gin and a few fresh raspberries. Finished with a sprig of rosemary, it’s pure prettiness in a glass.

05

Get the conversation flowing

As any sommelier worth his salt can attest, the shape of the glass and the amount you pour into it will affect the flavour of the drink it contains. The guys at Villeroy & Boch suggest a curved glass, filled to four-fifths of its capacity, for water, and a larger glass for red wine, which should only be filled to two-fifths of its capacity. Smaller and narrower than the glass for red wine, the white-wine glass helps to maintain the temperature of your deliciously chilled Chardonnay and should also only be filled to two-fifths of its capacity. Finally, the Champagne flute, whose narrow form helps retain the bubbles, should be filled to a generous four-fifths of the glass.

06

Make it visual

If it's not on Instagram, did your dinner party even happen? For the ultimate in photogenic food, use colourful ingredients - think beetroot, blood orange, rhubarb - and garnishes like micro herbs or edible flowers like nasturtium and violets. Then, choose tableware that shows off your food. Le Creuset's extensive dinnerware collections and the brand's iconic oven-to-table casserole pots - available in a vast range of jewel-bright-colours - will rival your menu for attention