1. Keep it simple
As impressive as it may read on the page of that Michelin-starred chef’s cookbook, dinner parties are not the time to attempt something new! Stick to what you know and you’ll feel a lot more confident and at ease in the kitchen.
2. Plan your menu
Put some pre-thought into your meal. Consider flavours, textures, smells and even colours. We begin digestion with our eyes so take time to think about all the senses. Find inspiration by browsing the menus of your favourite restaurants or theme your party to help bring continuity to the overall experience and even inform your musical playlists for the evening.
3. Be allergy-friendly
It’s always a good idea to check-in with your guests before they arrive and see if anyone has allergies or intolerances. If they do be sure to make the effort to make something that is inclusive of everyone; gone are the days of the token vegetarian having to make do with a quick omelette! With plenty of allergy-friendly recipes out there you’re hardest decision will be deciding which raw vanilla cheesecake or paleo chocolate brownie to make!
4. Become a food stylist
No need for a pair of tweezers to delicately place your edible flowers onto that plate, but when it comes to food presentation your choice of serving dishes is almost as important as the food itself. Whether you opt for that pristine set of matching plates or the rustic wooden boards and imperfectly cute ceramic bowls, you’re making a big visual impact. Don’t be scared to style it up- you want it to be Instagram-worthy don’t you?
5. Finishing touches
A simple dusting of icing sugar, a swirl of olive oil, a sprig of fresh herbs, a sprinkling of toasted seeds…it’s these little touches that finish off your dish to perfection and elevate it from plain to beautiful. Be experimental too. I love to use cacao nibs, organic bee pollen or Jax Coco coconut chips for healthy toppings that bring a great crunch and punchy flavour.
6. Whet their appetite
Small tasty appetisers are a great way to start the evening. Mini courgette & dill fritters, crispy polenta sweet potato chips, raw summer rolls or quinoa and lentil bites are great healthy options that can be pre-made and served with homemade dips.
7. Fridge-set desserts
It an obvious one but don’t leave everything until the last minute. Plan your time, write things down, clean as-you-go and to make things even easier choose fridge-set desserts that can be pre-made. My favourite fool-proof dessert is a raw chocolate & orange torte that simply combines dates, ground almonds, Jax Coconut oil, dates, orange zest and desiccated coconut onto a base of ground cashews, cacao and honey. Yum!
8. All of the lights
Candles are a given at most dinner parties but don’t go overboard. Remember lighting does have a dramatic effect on the overall ambience of a room so consider your options and remember to adjust across the evening to suit the mood.
9. Coconut & gin cocktails
A well-made cocktail needn’t be overcomplicated but can really impress your guests. Naturally sweet coconut water eliminates the need for any sugar syrups, helping you achieve a healthier but delicious drink. I mix gin with Jax coconut water, tonic water and the juice of half a lime to give a refreshing variation on the classic G&T.
10. Take a seat
Be sure to choose a menu that allows you to actually sit down and enjoy your meal with your guests. Time-management skills come into play here so think about the structure of your evening and don’t feel guilty when you take that seat, you deserve it!