Much like interior design, dinner parties walk a delicate line between glorious success and utter disaster. While on the one hand, they have the potential to be brimming with all the best things; loved ones, food, maybe even a whimsical game, they can also spiral in the totally opposite direction. One misplaced chair, a last-minute addition to the guest list, and the next thing you know there is nothing but silence echoing around your beautifully laid-out dining room.
OKA is full of dinner party enthusiasts, so here we’ve compiled a definitive guide to getting yours spot on. From the menu to the decorations, we’ve got all the variables covered.
The simple answer is: it’s never too early. The more time the better in our books. That being said, it depends on the occasion as well. Throwing a routine get-together for old friends? You’ll be fine picking up the essentials the night before, no poring over a seating plan required. Hosting a dress code-compulsory 1920s-themed dinner for work colleagues and their significant others? Chances are you’d like to get ahead on that one. Set a date well in advance, consider dietary requirements and muse over what’s going to take centre stage on your table.
If you’re cooking for friends, then it’s nice to consider what their favourite foods or ingredients are; they’ll feel touched that you’ve put so much thought into the event. You want to enjoy the evening as much as they do though, so opting for dishes that don’t need lots of attention or can be prepared beforehand are always a good choice. Sharing platters can be a fun way of including everyone in the dining experience, plus that extra-hungry guest (there’s always one) will be fully satisfied.
As all good hosts will tell you, the rule of thumb is to ensure that guests have a drink in their hand. If you’re kicking off the night with cocktails, stick to the classics. Champagne cocktails are a great crowd pleaser, quick and easy to concoct. It’s the little things that count, so choose an antique-style glass like our beautiful Ranelagh Champagne Flutes to truly impress your guests.
Now this is where things start to get a little trickier. Throw in plus ones, your new neighbours…it can be a minefield. If you have a round dining table, you’re in luck. Round designs are great for breaking down barriers; there’s no head of the table and everyone can see and speak to each other. Dining chairs are important as well, you want to make sure that every seat is the best one in the house. If you’re hosting a large number and using a combination of different chairs, that’s fine, it can even add a nice quirky feel to your table, but make sure that each individual will be sitting comfortably.
Whatever your style, a dining table display that’s elegant and eye-catching is a must for a soiree. Your table sets the bar for what’s to come, so you’ll want to put as much thought into it as you do your menu. Consider your occasion and the mood you’re trying to create: patterned china and embossed glassware add a fun feel, whereas crisp white table linen and silver cutlery are ideal for constructing a luxurious affair.
For the centrepiece, flowers and greenery are lovely additions every time, adding texture and a natural feel to your table. Our faux blooms and bunches not only look incredibly realistic but can be used at dinners for years to come. Make sure that your centrepiece isn’t causing too much of a distraction though, or is so high that guests can’t see each other across the table.
Ambience is key at any dinner party and the right lighting can make or break the mood. You want everyone to feel welcome and relaxed, which just won’t happen in a stark bright space. Low lighting and candles are ideal for softening a room; ornate choices like the Cornamenta Candle Holder add a decorative touch to any scheme. Or, if you’re looking to create an effect with lighting, choose patterned designs that cast a shadow—this beautiful hand-painted Tortoiseshell Candle Holder is just the thing for creating an interesting aesthetic.
What’s mood lighting without music? Curating the perfect party playlist can be time consuming so stick to the classics, or you could always ask your guests for their favourite set lists prior to the dinner for a fun, inclusive touch.
Now you should be all set to throw a fabulous dinner party! But if you’re looking for more visual inspiration, have a look at our hand-picked 5 Key Pieces For Your Dining Room.