10 tips for a stress-free dinner party

Hosting a dinner party is a great way to build relationships and create a circle of friends that will last a life time.

And since December is such a busy month for social occasions, we thought it would be the perfect time to ask Elm Hurst Inn & Spa’s executive chef, Michael Davies, for some tips to help you make your evening a night to remember – minus the stress!

Plan ahead
Create a menu, write a grocery list, and make sure you are well organized. Prepare a familiar recipe, perhaps with a new twist. If a dish can be made a day ahead, save yourself some last minute stress. If you’re hosting as a couple, divide the duties beforehand, to avoid any last minute arguments.

Use your best
Why wait to use your best china, cutlery and linens? Seize the moment and enjoy the occasion!

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Now is the time to use your table linens and good china!

Decorate your table
Fresh flowers or candles make an instant impression. But make sure people can see over them.

Start on empty
Always start the night with an empty dishwasher and bin. It will make clean-up so much easier!

Get yourself ready first
This way you simply have to slip off your apron to greet your guests.

Break the ice with some cocktails
When guests arrive, offer them something special to drink. This will set the tone and get  conversation flowing. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss who will be the designated drivers.

Skip the appetizer
Instead of serving a formal appetizer, offer stationed or butlered hors d’oeuvres. This gives you and your guests more time to mingle.

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Offer a delicious cheese platter instead of a formal appetizer.

Have a seating plan
To keep things interesting, guests should be seated boy/girl/boy/girl, and couples should not be seated next to one another.

Stick to two courses
A soup or salad followed by a main course is plenty, takes less time in the kitchen (both to prepare and clean up) and will give you more time to sit down and enjoy the meal.

Keep dessert simple
Choose a dessert that can be prepared ahead of time, or that only requires some last minute assembly. Try a delicious scoop of ice cream served with some fresh fruit, or an assortment of pastries from your favourite local bakery.

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A simple scoop of ice cream with a few fresh berries makes a wonderful dessert.

Remember – it’s about fun, not perfection. And if you simply don’t have time to do it all yourself, book a table at the Elm Hurst or Idlewyld for some delicious holiday dining.

From all of us at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa – Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2017!