I love a relaxed kitchen supper with friends but sometimes I like to spoil my guests a little and throw a ‘proper’ dinner party and so recently I threw a Burn’s Night Supper in the dining room. When I throw a dinner party, I design it in the same way I design an interior. I have a concept and I aim to create an experience. Paying attention to the details, just as I do for my interiors, ensures that my guests are excited to be invited, feel thoroughly spoiled when there and they are still raving about it for sometime afterwards. In short I treat them to my very own brand of lived-in luxe, heres how I design the perfect dinner party
Creating a theme
My Burns Night Supper party was obviously a very definite theme and so there were plenty of nods to tartan, thistles, whisky and Haggis. However there are times when I’m not throwing the dinner to celebrate a specific event but I always have in mind a theme as this gives me a starting point on which to build the table decor, menu, drinks etc..Having a theme, just as in a room scheme means there is a thread that runs through the evening in terms of colours and styling, this creates flow and an elegant feel. I find it is usually the season that inspires my theme and I will use the colours of seasonal flowers as a starting point. Once I have a theme in mind I find the ideas for table decor, food and drinks etc..naturally flow.
Setting the scene
Once I have my theme I get to work on setting the scene. Designing perfect dinner party is all about creating an experience, ambiance is achieved by attention to detail and stimulating all the five senses of sight, smell, taste and touch.
Making an Entrance
Making sure the entrance looks inviting is the first thing I look at. Plants around the door, prettily lit by lights and/or lanterns and gorgeous scented candles in the hallway, make for a warm and inviting start to the evening, my favourite candles are Cire Trudon
Following swiftly into the sitting room, where the fire is lit and gorgeous drinks or cocktails are served along with delicious canapés. Good chilled champagne served in beautiful long elegant flutes or maybe in a cheeky vintage saucer, is my favourite. All wonderfully displayed on an elegant bar cart.
I head to Spotify for a ready to go dinner party playlist to suit all tastes
If I’m entertaining more formally in the dining room which will normally involve more than 6-8 guests, I will usually hire a private chef Leith’s list, is my go to resource for this . This is not as expensive as some might think, depending on what food you choose. I enjoy cooking for more informal kitchen suppers but frankly running in and out all evening with drinks and plates is just hard work and if I am making an occasion of the evening I want to be relaxed and enjoy my guests and the evening also. The guests also come to see you, they don’t want you in the kitchen all evening and frazzled.
The table plan
I always do a table plan and set little place names down at each setting. I do this for two reasons; one to ensure everyone is well mixed and two, because I find guests prefer it, they will often feel awkward and are not sure where they should go when faced with a large set table. I usually arrange boy-girl if possible to make it easier and I place couples apart. I will often ask the men to move around following each course, this usually goes down quite well as everyone gets to chat to everyone and it keeps the conversation moving and fresh.