The New Rules For Hosting A Stress-Free Dinner Party

Pack away the PLACEMATS, the LATEST trend in HOSTING just got a lot more CASUAL …


The dinner party, as you know it, goes into hibernation this year, in favour of a more informal, less labour-intensive supper. Forget the formalities and gather friends around your coffee table for a cocktail and light supper of small plates or substantial canapés. Dispense with wine altogether and serve an Irish gin cocktail, offering two to three types of gin to choose from (and discuss the relative merits!). Serve mocktails for non-drinkers. The next big thing is sake, by the way, now that ur-critic Robert Parker is turning his attention to Japan’s pure polished rice wine. Time to dust off your rolling mats and prep some sushi.

Next, un-set the table. A low table flanked by sofas must be one of the most convivial dining arrangements for a small group. So why formalise it by setting a place for everyone, ruining the casual effect? With drinks paraphernalia on a separate table or bar cart, dedicate your table space to dining, with room for trays of canapés or sushi, a stack of small plates and a pile of small cloth cocktail napkins. If cutlery is required, make a tidy pile or gather forks and spoons in a nice vessel – a mirrored or metal vase. Style the table to suit the rest of your interiors – if you like gilt and grandeur, you’ll love Newbridge Silverware’s collection in rose gold, which adds warmth and colour. Try it with anything gilt-edged – it looks fantastic – or with grey plates and grey linen napkins. If yours is a contemporary home, you’ll favour plain coloured plates and modern cutlery – or wooden chopsticks. A small, low arrangement of flowers makes a pretty focal point.

This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this don’t miss our next issue, out Saturday, March 4.

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