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De-stress your dinner party.

What are your dinner party tips? Let us know and you could WIN a R250 Kalahari Kalahari voucher!

11 Mar 2010

I love dinner parties.

They always give me a cosy feeling of happiness, a full belly and the pleasurable tingle of too much wine.

What’s not to like? A scoop of friends who can talk the biggest load of balls for hours, still find it hilarious and extra large helpings for pudding. Whoopee.

So why is it so stressful?

It’s the thought of cooking 3 courses and laying it on flawlessly with a Delia Smith flourish that’s the hard part.

3 courses co-ordinated one after the other to be in front of 8-10 people all at one time is a task that can make you sweat bullets in winter, even for the most accomplished of cooks.

The thing is, nobody wants a psycho host who doesn’t sit down for a second and screams scarily at their partner when they forgot to warm the plates or the spun sugar baskets flopped.

Actually, nobody cares, it’s about getting together, having a feed, a dop and relaxing. Your guests want to see you and don’t expect you to embody Nigella and then end up behaving like a crazed Gordon Ramsay.

So to help you out, I’ve put together some tips for a great dinner party without the stress :

Plan your menu – think about what you’re going to cook and do a shopping list. Shop a day in advance so you are ready to go and don’t have to do the mad trolley-run an hour before people arrive.

Advance cooking – make as much as you can in advance, you can do wonderful soups for starters and freeze them, stews and casseroles also freeze well and a curry should really be made a day or two before to let the gorgeous flavours meld and dance with each other.

Don’t be a fancypants – don’t try to go too gourmet, it doesn’t work. Stick with what you know or if you want to try something new, give it a whirl once before the evening to see how it goes.

Keep it simple! – I can’t stress this enough, simple food does not mean boring food. You can use beautiful  ingredients that take 5 minutes to prepare and taste wonderful. Try this baked camembert for a starter, it’s amazing.

Bring some bounty – ask your friends to bring something like a dip, some nuts or some choccies. I often say I’ll sort out the dessert and when it’s my turn, the favour is returned. Less stress, more chill time.

Themed – it’s fun to get everyone involved and takes the work away from you. How about homemade pizzas? You can make the bases in advance or buy them in if you don’t have time and provide the toppings, people can make their own and you all get a taste of the masterpieces. Ice cream and hot chocolate sauce for dessert and you’re sorted.

Here are some cool menus to start you off:

Cheap and cheerful - quick and easy on the pocket
Cooking for a crowd - great for a table packed with hungry mouths
Italian pizza fest - try these different toppings
Thai dinner - something different to add a bit of spice to the evening
Romantic - a wonderful dinner for two


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