Dinner and drinks parties have become more popular since the pandemic. As the cost of living rises, more and more of us are staying at home and inviting friends and family members over for informal feasts or chic soirées. If you’re organising an event, here are some tips to make menu planning a breeze.
Consider your guest list
The first step to take when putting a menu together is to consider your guest list. How many people are coming and do your guests have any dietary requirements or stipulations regarding what they drink? If you have guests that are not drinking, for example, or you have a friend who is vegan, you’ll need to factor this in when ordering food and drinks and planning your menu.
Think about the type of event
The next step is to think about the type of event you want to organise. Are you planning a sophisticated, sit-down meal with all the bells and whistles, or are you leaning towards an informal buffet, brunch or barbeque? Are you celebrating a special occasion, or is your gathering simply an opportunity to treat loved ones to good food and company and enjoy a long-awaited reunion? Match your menu to the theme and vibe of the event. For a low-key occasion, you could opt for sharing or grazing boards or a hot or cold buffet. For a dinner party, why not push the boat out with canapes, a 3-course dinner and coffee and mints or a cheese board to finish?
Make your menu distinctive
Every host wants their party to be memorable for the right reasons. If you’re in charge of catering, it’s a brilliant idea to make your menu distinctive. You can do this by channelling a theme, personalising dishes or adding something extra special like a signature cocktail or a premium bottle of whisky from an online whisky auction. Be creative with ingredients and presentation and provide an experience. This could include show cooking, presenting food at the table, cocktail making or being playful with ingredients guests can add themselves, such as a hot sauce that melts a chocolate sphere for dessert.
Celebrate ingredients you love
Food always tastes better when it’s cooked with passion. If you’re rustling up a feast for friends or relatives, it’s an excellent idea to celebrate and showcase ingredients that you love. Make the most of seasonal produce and use flavours that you’ve experimented with and enjoyed before. It’s always beneficial to try dishes a few times before sharing them with others so that you can perfect the recipe and check preparation and cooking times.
Dinner parties are a golden opportunity to spend quality time together and take advantage of delicious food and drink, but they can be stressful to organise. If you’re taking charge of catering and making drinks, be practical. Choose dishes and menus that complement your skill level and give you sufficient time to prepare in advance and spend time with your guests.
Planning a menu is one of the most exciting elements of organising a dinner party, but it can also be one of the most challenging. If you’re hosting, consider your party size and guest requirements, make your menu distinctive and think about the type of event you want to organise. Celebrate ingredients you love and make your event stand out.