Event Producer Pippa Davies has come up with her top ten tried and tested tips for creating the perfect dinner party
1. Lighting - get it right, everyone wants to look their best and glaring overhead lights are going to kill the atmosphere, instead think lots of lamps and candles creating a twinkling, soft light that is flattering and will get everyone in a sociable mood. Dig out the warm tone bulbs as well and try to avoid harsh blue white light. Think firelight and starlight, not hospital strip lighting!
2. Make the kitchen welcoming - as we all know everyone ends up in the kitchen so make sure you have a lovely bunch of flowers on one of the work surfaces if you have room and bring in a couple of lamps if you have more utilitarian lighting in this area. If there is room, drag in a sofa - let your guests really settle in while you finish off the meal.
3. Cheating - if cooking’s not your thing then don’t feel shy about using a cooking service to help you out on the evening; it doesn’t need to be that expensive, what about a big risotto you can heat up as guests arrive? All that remains to be done after that is discard all packaging and grate some parmesan!
4. Mix it up - whatever the size of the dinner party make sure you seat couples apart and get groups of friends split up, people will be happy to come away having met someone new and lots of us are lazy and might not stretch ourselves unless forced.
5. A good host/hostess will introduce people and give a little information about that person along with their names - give people something to get going with when they meet each other.
6. Music - not too loud, let people hear each other and ideally on a playlist so you don’t have to keep fiddling with it all night.
7. Candles on the table will work well to create the atmosphere - especially now we’re into the dark evenings!
8. Decorate the table - even a few hand-picked flowers in jam jars or pretty napkins makes people feel that they are your special guests.
9. Make sure your dining room chairs are comfortable. Hard benches or unforgiving chairs might need a cushion to make them somewhere someone would want to sit for a long time.
10. Keep it simple - what your guests will love is you feeling relaxed, so if that means less courses and a simpler menu then go with that. You're not a restaurant, people are there because they want to see you and socialise.
Pippa Davies has been organising events for over 10 years and has a wealth of knowledge of the industry.