Whether you're celebrating a recent graduation, christening, engagement, birthday, anniversary - or other occasion altogether - when throwing a special dinner party, it's natural to want to pull out all the stops. To help make your next celebration party truly unforgettable, here are our top tips.
Offer menu options. Make your dinner party feel really special by creating a bespoke menu to send to your guests ahead of the event. Offer as many options for each course as you feel you can manage comfortable on the night - two choices for each course is a good rule of thumb.
Ask guests to RSVP with their selections is good time so you can buy the right quantities of ingredients, and make life easier for yourself by offering dishes that can be partially prepared or cooked in advance, or else very quickly whipped up on the night. Guests can keep the menu cards as a charming keepsake.
Bring the evening together with a theme. Your theme is, of course, likely to be decided by the occasion you're celebrating, so why not get inventive and reflect the occasion in your table decoration?
For example, if you're throwing a post-graduation bash, try rollin napkins up in the style of a diploma, before tying in a bow with bright ribbon. Napkins and table runners could reflect the traditional colours of the university, whilst place cards could be crafted from academic-style lined card.
Create individual place setting decorations. Add an extra dash of charm to your place setting by embellishing them with individual decorations. One simple and thrifty way to do this is to reinvent your old, empty perfume bottles (though small jars or olive oil bottles will also work well) to use as vases to hold a couple of sweet-smelling wildflowers.
Experiment with unusual place mats. Rather than opting for traditional square fabric place mats, go for something a little more unconventional. Ornate paper doilies make a fantastic kitsch alternative, and look stunning when placed underneath clear glass tableware - giving the impression that the plate itself is intricately patterned. The advantage of using paper placemats or doilies is that they can also be printed with words or even images, making them ideal as take-home mementos.
Give guests small party favours. These can be anything from a small box of truffles to miniature scented candles. Alternatively, if you're willing to invest slightly more time, you could create beautiful jars of infused sugars - the perfect party favour for foodie guests.
To make these, you can use dry ingredients like vanilla pods or cocoa or coffee beans, or there's also the option of using fresh ingredients like lemon or orange zest, or lavender sprigs - which will need to be dried out on wax paper overnight.
Simply fill an airtight container (small glass jars look best) with sugar, before layering over with your chosen ingredient to infuse. This process will take a few days, leaving you with delicious, subtly-flavoured sugar that you can present to guests in attractive ribbon wrapped jars.