There is so much about becoming an adult that is terrifying; having to pay bills, thinking about your 401k, choosing to go to work instead of choosing to lay on the sofa and watch season 5 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S again. It’s all a bit rubbish and not how we imagined the freedoms of adulthood. But for all these ugly niggles, there are so many cool parts too. You get to meet your besties at the best bars, you can do what you want with your weekends instead of being dragged on some dreadful family outing and, best of all, you get to hold your own dinner parties.
Yes, we agree, that phrase is more outdated than avocado bath suites, and so the first overhaul should be calling it something more 21st Century like, oh ummm, a supper club or something. Yet, the name isn’t the only part of the dinner party that needs sprucing up; the very vibe is in need of an overhaul as well.
If your friends are anything like you are (and we’re presuming they are), then they will feel uncomfortable attending a grown-up dinner party even though they are grown-ups. That’s why we’ve been oh-so admirable and pulled together a list of ways you can throw a dinner party-slash-supper club that replaces the stiffness with silliness. Mmm hmmm, this is your guide on how to throw an un-grown-up dinner do:
Know One, Not Everyone
Having a dinner party of your besties is amazing, but it is more of a get together than a dinner party. There is going to be no social rut to worry about, something that becomes a thing when you are inviting people from your slightly wider pool of friends. Instead, what you really want to do is sit your guests down next to people they wouldn’t normally sit next to so that they enjoy the conversations they wouldn’t normally have (if you get my drift). The question is: how on earth can you do this? Well, our advice would be to make sure everyone knows at least one other person at the table but no one knows everyone. The fun dinner do is all about bringing a new social dynamic to life.
The Food’s On You
As tempting as it can be to shout, “Yesssss!” down the phone when a guest asks if they can bring anything, you need to say no. It’s your inner party and so it’s your responsibility. Luckily for you, there are two bonuses to be had here. First, we wrote an epic blog about how to serve dinner party-worthy food and, secondly, by saying no you are actually reducing your workload. Now we know that sounds bonkers but think about it for a second; when you cook everything yourself, you know what you’re going to dish it on, where to store it and how to serve it. If people start bringing dishes then you are playing a game of guesswork on all of these things, and that is way more work than you might realise.
Set The Stage
A dinner party needs a certain amount of staging in order to be a super-success. We’re talking about having a little area for cheeses and crackers and olives and all those nibbly bits, as well as another area for good bottles of cheap wine, a corkscrew, some glasses and maybe a few alternatives for those that maybe have to drive. If you really want to be awesome, then try to have another table for other party bits – a pitcher of some cocktail you’ve never made before, some craft beers and that sort of thing. It will give people the things they want and it will help spread the party out a bit.
Pop Out The Day Before
In case you haven’t done this before, the ay of a dinner party is pretty hands-on. Seriously. It can feel like every minute – nay, every second – counts. As such, running out for anything should be written right off. Yes, there may be the odd emergency, like you forgot to buy lemons for your lemon sole main course. But other than that, you need to be doing your big and only shop the day before. Emergency runs can be squeezed in because you know what you forgot, you know what you need to grab and you know you’ll be quick. Dilly-dallying on everything just isn’t possible.
Entertain On Arrival
When your guests show up, the last thing you should be doing is cooking; you need to be in fully-fledged entertainer mode. How can you do this with so much food to be cooked? Keep the menu simple. Things like salads you’ve already made but just need a quick dressing before being served, a starter course that cooks on a low heat for a long time, like a pork shoulder etc. The first plus point when you do this will be the fact your home. smells. amazing. But here’s the real kicker: you’ll be able to enjoy that sensation with them, instead of being locked in the kitchen and panicking. From the very moment your guests start arriving, you should only have one food-related task and that is plating it up.
Dessert Is A Delicate One
People will feel rude if they don’t accept your dessert, but they will feel like they’re falling into a coma if they eat anything too rich or filling, which is why you need to be really sensitive at this point. Our advice: stick to something fun like tasty pudding shots, something expensive like chocolates or something light and daring like fruit. But that’s it. Anything else and you run the risk of slowing your party down more than Donald Trump has slowed the world’s chances of surviving. (Oh, and on that note, we should mention that politics is not a dinner party conversation).
A Toast To Remember
You don’t need to go over the top with a toast. You don’t need to reel off something like, “May neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you” unless, of course, you wanted to. That said, getting a little theatrical may not be a bad shout, especially if you want to use this little moment to set the tone of your do. Something as short and simple as, “to old friends and new”, or you could even add a little touch of humour with, “four bottles per four of us, thank god there be no more of us.” The reason a toast is so important is everyone remembers a toast and, well, that’s what a dinner party wants to be; memorable.
After The Table
If you think about it for a couple of moments, the actual eating of your meals only takes about twenty to twenty-two minutes. That’s all. If you want to grit your teeth in frustration then please do so, but then move on. But despite this whole speedy eating thing, the perfect amount of time to be sat around the table and enjoying each other’s chat and company and humor is an hour. That’s how long it can take for the perfect vibe to marinate. The question is, then what? Well, instead of letting the vibe go to waste by clearing everything away, just leave everything where it is, on the table, and move to somewhere else. Maybe have the living room set up for intimate conversations, or take the party into your open kitchen where more wine is waiting. Do this and you won’t run the risk of your hard-fought-for dynamic getting tampered with.
When They Go…
Go to bed. That’s all. None of this, “oh, the guests have gone, so I better clear up the dining room, do the dishes and get the place somewhat liveable.” That’s nonsense. That’s too grown-up and boring. What you want to do instead is embrace the hilarity that is stumbling into your bedroom, collapsing on the bed with your shirt and socks still on and then stumbling out of the bedroom in the morning to survey just how much fun was had the night before. It is part of the ritual. It’s what you would have done as a college student and it’s something you shouldn’t let go of just yet (or ever!). Yes, there may be a hurricane of mess, but that should make you smile because, to put it in party terms, the more mess there is the more fun was had. Only once you’ve realized this should you get the house back in order and then, once you’re happy the place is tidy)ish), get out of your home and treat yourself to some overly expensive brunch in some overly lovely restaurant. Come on, you deserve it. You made dinner for loads of people so the least you deserve is having some professional chef make you brekky.
And there we have it, the perfect way to host a dinner party without feeling like a boring old grown-up. We bet you can’t wait to call your friends and get a date in the diary now!