1. Send out invitations
This is a polite and charming touch for a dinner party, often lost in the modern day in favour of facebook and email. If time, create homemade invitations for a personal touch.
2. Plan ahead
Prepare as much as you can the night before, to avoid rushing around on the evening of your party. Make sure you have all the utensils and ingredients you need before you start, so you don’t have to make a last-minute dash to the shops.
If you’re cooking a complex range of dishes, make notes of preparation times, making a plan to keep you organised.
3. Laying the table
Make namecards for your guests. It’ll make things much easier when seating everyone, and also avoid an unexpected and awkward pairing! According to Mrs Beeton, for a private dinner party, there should be no less than 3 guests and no more than 9.
Finally, create an eye-catching centrepiece with candles or flowers, and don’t forget to create ambience with lighting.
4. Half an hour before dinner
Relax. This can be the most stressful and nerve-wracking time for the hostess. Trust in your skills and keep cheerful! Show guests to the cloakroom and powder room and allow them to amuse themselves while you make the final preparations.
Missed the show? See what Sophie Dahl served up at her traditional Victorian dinner party.
Lobster a la Mode Francaise
Marvellous Mrs Beeton with Sophie Dahl airs Monday 6th February on LifeStyle.