Discover The Ritz London’s guide to hosting the perfect dinner party. Delve into the art of tablescaping and creating a warm ambiance this winter. Read here.
How To Host The Perfect Dinner Party At Home
As we near the end of the year, the long evenings spent drinking and dining alfresco feel like a distant memory (for now!), but winter is also known as party season for a reason, as it’s when dinner parties really come into their own. With festive celebrations aplenty and invitations arriving from all angles, we at The Ritz are on hand to advise how to make your dinner party at home a cut above the rest. Guests will be RSVPing for next year even before the night is over.
Hosting a dinner party needn’t be a stressful task. However, planning is key for a seamless evening and importantly, one that you can enjoy as the host too. Once the guest list is finalised and the invitations sent, be sure to allow enough time to organise your menus, tablescaping, theme and ambiance to avoid any last-minute panic. Here’s how to create a festive celebration that your guests will be reminiscing over all season.
Choosing Your Dinner Party Theme
There are a whole host of dinner party themes to choose from during the winter months, but once you have chosen your theme, the rest is able to fall into place. If you have friends or family from across the pond, perhaps a Thanksgiving celebration is in order, of course Christmas or New Year’s Eve are also natural choices or maybe it’s the time of year for a landmark birthday or anniversary… Whichever theme you land upon, it’s essential to thread it through all elements of the evening, including décor, floral arrangements, music, scent and cuisine.
When it comes to celebratory dinner parties at The Ritz, more is more. The New Year’s Eve Black Tie Gala is a night of pure revelry, featuring Michelin-starred cuisine, prestige Champagne, live musical entertainment and even a military marching band; all in the breath-taking setting of the Rococo-style dining room of The Ritz Restaurant. You may not have any Michelin-starred chefs or an Events team on hand to assist with your dinner party at home, but there are certainly a few tips that we can offer to make your celebration a dazzling success.
What’s on the menu?
Firstly, at the heart of any good dinner party is an excellent menu. Don’t forget to find out your guests’ dietary requirements in advance, there’s nothing like an unexpected vegan request to scupper your well laid plans. Additionally, research recipes that can be prepared in advance, leaving you to socialise with your guests rather than be hiding in the kitchen. Of course, stick to your theme. If it’s a Christmas party, add festive touches, such as serving mulled wine when guests arrive or mince pies with the coffees. For an anniversary, why not choose a dish that was served at your wedding to capture the spirit of the celebration?
Set the Scene
Ambiance isn’t only how the venue looks, but the overall feeling exuded upon guests when they first walk into the room. To make your first impression count, think about the finer details that will make all the difference in creating your perfect party atmosphere. Light a winter spice candle to fill the air with a subtle, festive aroma. Curate a playlist to match the mood, which evolves as the evening progresses (it might start with sophisticated jazz and finish with dancefloor fillers). To make each guest feel special, add personalised touches including place cards or handmade crackers with a bespoke favour inside.
Of course, decorations are the easiest way to transform your dining room into your dream event space. Try following a colour scheme for flowers, balloons, napkins and table decorations to effortlessly tie the scene together. During the festive season, you can never go wrong with some golden glamour to lift everyone’s spirits.
Get your glad rags on
One aspect that makes The Ritz New Year’s Eve Gala all the more special is the dress code. Guests love to don their finest tuxedos and ball gowns for the occasion, which is the finishing touch to complete the celebratory atmosphere. Even if you are hosting your dinner party in the comfort of your own home, ask your guests to follow a dress code in line with the theme of your event. For example, if your birthday dinner party is 1920s themed, all your hard work spent finding the ideal decorations would be wasted if your guests don’t arrive dressed in sequins and bowties to match.
The Art of Tablescaping: Ideas & Styling
In the age of Instagram, tablescaping has become almost as important as the food when hosting the perfect dinner party. Especially during the festive season, there is much competition in creating the most spectacular Christmas tablescape. But remember, the best dining table decorations are functional as well as beautiful. If there’s no space left on the table for plates or guests can’t hold a conversation due to towering candelabras obscuring their view, your dinner party atmosphere will soon be as frosty as the weather. Here are some tablescaping ideas that will please both your guests and the grid.
Start with the essentials
The key elements to consider when starting to create your tablescape are naturally, crockery, cutlery, glassware and napkins. The William Kent Room, arguably the most stunning private dining room in London, is home to an expansive mahogany banqueting table, large enough to seat 24 guests for dinner. However, not many of us are lucky enough to have this in our home so it’s important to work with your space. Think about how many courses and the types of wine you will be serving, which will dictate the layout of each place setting. Additionally, creating individual menus for each guest is an extra special touch to make guests feel as if they were dining at The Ritz. They also act as a memento of the evening for everyone to take home.
Time to decorate
Now that the essentials are out the way, you have a better idea of the space you have left to work with. For a circular table, a single floral arrangement in the centre of the table is a simple yet effective way to make a statement. If it’s a long table you are using, a line of candles, lamps or flowers down the centre would be the best option for you. Christmas tablescaping is an opportunity to have a little fun. Try adding baubles, Christmas ornaments such as nutcrackers or angels, oversized bows and lots of sparkle to your arrangements to make your guests feel as if they are entering a winter wonderland. Or if you are looking for a more natural look, intertwine seasonal foliage, such as twiggy branches, holly, or ivy with the floral decorations.
Hosting A Dinner Party at The Ritz London
If hosting a dinner party at home feels too much like hard work, let us do all the planning for you by hosting your event in one of our private dining rooms at The Ritz. The attentive service of our friendly team and the bespoke menu of Michelin-starred cuisine designed by Executive Chef, John Williams MBE, as well as the elegant surroundings, beautifully decorated for the festive season, will leave you free to enjoy your dinner party with your guests.
Alternatively, for a more intimate winter dining celebration, one of our festive events in The Ritz Restaurant might be just the antidote to the busy party season. Spend Boxing Day or New Year’s Day enjoying a four-course lunch or dinner menu with loved ones, whilst entertainment is taken of by our live band and professional dancers. What’s more, when your meal comes to an end there won’t be any washing up in sight – the perfect way to host if you ask us!
Whether you choose to throw the dinner party of the season or join us at The Ritz for a special celebration, we are sure your event will be filled with Ritz magic.