Traditional Dinner Party Ideas by Mrs Beeton

Looking to host the perfect dinner party? You don’t have to be a Victorian Brit to heed the advice of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published 1860. In Sophie Dahl’s documentary ‘Marvellous Mrs Beeton’ she celebrates the life of this Victorian domestic goddess, by putting a modern twist on her guide to throwing a traditional dinner party. We show you how.

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.

First Course

Apple Soup


Lobster a la Mode Francaise

Pigeon Pie

Second Course

Roast Rabbit

Third Course


Marvellous Mrs Beeton with Sophie Dahl airs Monday 6th February on LifeStyle.

Want more? We thought you might like this video.

Like this artice? Subscribe to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered striaght to your inbox.

By registering you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Privacy Notice


Sign Out

Join the Conversation

Please note, LifeStyle cannot respond to all comments posted in our comments feed. If you have a comment or query you would like LifeStyle to respond to, please use our feedback form.