Lockdown may be a thing of the past, but life isn’t quite back to the pre-pandemic good old days just yet. But throughout these in-between months and years, one trend has emerged: the return of the dinner party.
Where once we were happy to spend hours hopping between bustling restaurants and crowded bars, many are now wanting to keep things small and slowly readjust without stimulation overload. The perfect hybrid between being a recluse and all-out socialite, the dinner party allows you to see the people you love without the long lines and check-in codes.
Here are the rules for the new dinner party.
Always Lead With a Drink on Arrival
Nothing makes a person happier than having their coat and bag taken from their hands and having it replaced with a cocktail. Summer months are also perfect for an Aperol Spritz, summer fruit punch, or champagne.
Forget Entrée, Mains and Dessert
While the dinner parties of our parents and grandparents’ generations were full-scale events that took days of planning, now it’s more about creating a space that allows people to relax and unwind. No seating arrangements or formal cutlery here, just grazing bites that flow into the main event, with something sweet on hand if the night calls for it.
Do the Hard Work Early
Where possible, do as much preparation and cooking as you can before guests arrive. Not only does this stop the house from being a furnace, but it also allows you to actually relax and catch up with your guests properly without slaving over the stove all night.
When in Doubt, Salad It Out
Most of us aren’t natural-born caterers, and during the summer months, nobody wants to spend hours slaving over the stove. The perfect summer dinner party spread consists of delectable nibbles (see Alison Roman), a handful of mouth-watering salads (think Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella Lawson, we’re looking at you), roast vegetables, and some pre-cooked protein for the meat-eaters (hello, Jessica Nguyen). For dessert, try gelato, fresh fruit, or a selection of handcrafted chocolates from your local markets.
Allergies Made Easy
Everybody has a friend with allergies or is vegetarian or vegan. As the dinner party host, hope may seem lost when it comes time to cater, but a simple hack is just to leave whatever it is they’re allergic to on the side. Let us explain: Got a gluten-intolerant friend but want to make that kale Caesar salad? Leave the croutons on the side and let guests add-in at their leisure. The roast pumpkin salad with yoghurt dressing not lactose-intolerant friendly? Have the dressing in a jar and let guests dress themselves.
Leave Your Phones at the Door
Almost two years as living like recluses have allowed some chronic phone overuse habits to form, even when we’re in the presence of people we love. But nothing allows you to fully engage in an evening like putting your phone away and really catching up. For those wanting to document the festivities, polaroid cameras are perfect and help to make the evening even more of an event.
Always Bring a Gift
In the instance that you’re a guest and not the host, it’s essential to take a small token of thanks with you. This can be a bunch of flowers (hello tablescape!) or a bottle of wine or champagne. It may seem small and insignificant to you, but your friend will love it!