From designing the perfect tools for entertaining to sharing expert tablescaping advice from our team, hosting is very much in our DNA here at OKA. Through our collections, we strive to offer all you need to make time with family and friends more enjoyable, and helping you gather your loved ones together is central to that mission. Of course, actions always speak louder than words, so we were delighted to put our hosting skills to the test earlier this season when we brought a few friends of OKA together for a celebration at our flagship store in Chelsea. In honour of our partnership with inspirational shopping platform Collagerie, we dimmed the lights and invited a few of our favourite tastemakers to raise a toast to the occasion. If you’re looking for fun dinner party ideas, we hope this insight into our own celebration will serve as the perfect inspiration – here are our tips on how to host a party, the OKA way.
Any location can feel party-appropriate with the right atmosphere – even a shop floor. To get our showroom in the celebratory mood, we switched off the overhead lights and turned to our much-loved collection of lamps for an inviting glow. Table lamps and floor lamps provided the perfect warming effect for a dark winter’s night, while our best-selling range of wireless lamps added an essential shine to tabletops. If you’re hosting an intimate dinner party, we’d advise following suit and scattering different sources of light throughout your space – add table lamps to side and console tables and floor lamps to darker corners. Mix in a selection of candles in decorative holders for a final atmospheric flourish – everything, and everyone, looks better by candlelight.
Whether you’re hosting a casual dinner party or something altogether more formal, we recommend striving to keep it intimate, even if the guest list itself is anything but. Practical considerations are key to this when it comes to hosting a party, so think about how you can make your set-up as sociable and seamless as possible. Before your meal, invite guests to mingle by clustering armchairs and pouffes for people to perch on, and remember to include plenty of surfaces on which to place drinks in between sips. For our dinner party at OKA Chelsea, we put careful consideration into our seating arrangements, gathering smaller groups of people together at differently shaped tables to allow for a more sociable set-up – round tables proved particularly great for encouraging conversation. We also made sure our table centrepieces didn’t obstruct people’s views across the table, allowing for them to see and talk to one another easily.
When it comes to decorating your tabletop, there’s only one thing for it: get mixing and matching. For our celebration, we mixed everything – from the dining chairs in different coloured upholstery to the crockery, glassware and accessories. Though the effect was eclectic, it still felt cohesive thanks to a common thread woven throughout: the colour palette. By choosing central shades of red and blue and repeating them across each tabletop, the look felt balanced, despite the accents of green, white, pink and yellow peppered throughout. For the latter shades, we chose smaller accessories to stop them from overwhelming the palette – lampshades, napkins and flowers brought touches of colour to the tabletop, while dining chairs, crockery and vases brought the leading hues to life.
Nothing shows people how much thought and attention you’ve put into an event quite like those personal touches. If you’re wondering how to host a dinner party at home that feels extra special, it’s little details such as these that will really elevate the occasion. For our event, we included hand-written name cards at every place setting, alternating between red and blue cards to complement the colour scheme. Not only did this provide a personal element to the set-up, it also served as a useful tool for implementing a seating plan. If you’re providing menu cards, consider mixing up the designs of each one – we chose to include a different artwork on the back of each of our menus, meaning every guest received their own miniature print to take home.
You can have the best music, the best guests and the best decorations, but nothing makes a dinner party a success quite like the food. Providing a delicious and plentiful spread will ensure your event goes off with a bang. For our dinner party menu, we turned to expert chef Posie Hall and a line-up of impressive dinner party recipes that were delectable in every sense of the word. Almost too good to eat, the menu included canapés that could be easily devoured in one bite (essential for an event where guests will likely have a drink in hand) as well as a sit-down dinner that catered to a mix of tastes. From spicy crab bruschetta and autumn crudités to start, to beef shin ragú and roasted acorn squash for the main, the feast was a delicious ode to the season’s best ingredients, sourced as locally and sustainably as possible.
You needn’t be a top chef to take inspiration from Posie’s menu – the core elements are easy to follow whatever your culinary skills: think tasty bite-sized appetisers served during cocktail hour, followed with hearty mains that speak to the season. Make sure the dinner itself isn’t too lengthy – two or three courses is enough – and, if you’re serving alcohol, ensure there’s enough food to balance out the booze. Don’t forget to include a dessert course – we served quince and almond tart with a side of crème fraîche. In our view, there’s no better way to end a fabulous evening than on a deliciously sweet note.