So you’re having a few friends over for dinner. Harmless fun, right? Well, not quite. It’s only natural to be a little competitive. Everyone wants to throw the best gathering, so they’re not just friends: they’re your rivals. In the battle of the dinner parties, you’re entertaining the enemy. All’s fair in love, war and hosting at home. It’s a candlelit battlefield where you can be vanquished if your starter’s a disaster and the dessert course is a cold war. Read on to find out how you can taste sweet victory.
It’s the eve of war. Time to stockpile snacks and blow the guests away with your perfect preparation:
Show your style. It could be elegant and formal, with your best silverware, or trendy and casual, serving cocktails in jam jars. What’s the atmosphere you want to create?
Make sure you’ve got room for all the food. It can be a struggle to fit larger, longer or wider items like platters or big bowls in most fridges.
Enlist a helper if you can. It could be a partner or a friend. They can serve while you cook, keep the drinks flowing and help to clear the plates.
Be organised. Check you’ve got everything that you need and you can find it easily. Keep your army of ingredients in check and on hand.
Prepare or part-prepare dishes in advance. Store them with care. You can pre-make salad and keep it in your fridge, but don’t add dressing until you serve. Lettuce should stay cool and crispy under fire.
You’ve laid out the tablecloth and battle plan. Go forth and engage the enemy in charming conversation:
Be ready before the doorbell rings. That way there’s less chance of burning your blinis while you’re greeting the guests.
Greet guests with a drink and make sure you have enough ice in the freezer! Warm welcome, cold champagne cocktails – not the other way around.
Make sure you introduce everyone and give conversation starting-points – for instance how you met. Keep them occupied so you can get on with the cooking if necessary and catch them unawares with some appetisers later.
Have a seating strategy. Separate guests who already know each other. Divide and conquer. Encourage them to mix.
Whether it’s an opening salvo of sautéed spinach or an onslaught of onion soup, you have to get the upper hand from the start:
Consider appetisers that need less cooking or supervision. You could serve charcuterie, with prosciutto and other cold cuts, or homemade dips and flatbread. Less stress, more free time to be an attentive host.
Small bowls of snacks like olives and nuts can be a good addition to the table, either to supplement your starters or for your guests to nibble on between courses. Try adding your own touches such as a spice mix.
Serve an amuse bouche just before the main course to really impress your guests. It’s a small mouthful that has a big impact.
Now you’re in the thick of it and the heat is on. Even if the kitchen is a bombsite, stay calm and push forward:
Go for a tried and tested recipe. New ones are risky, so serve your speciality. They won’t know what hit them.
Serve some dishes in a communal bowl or platter to save prep time. This is perfect for salads, antipasti and more. If your fridge has deep, wide shelving, you can store assembled dishes and keep them fresh to bring straight to the table.
Decorating plated dishes elegantly isn’t hard. For restaurant-style presentation, just use an easily-available squeezy sauce bottle to drizzle dressings and sauces in artistic squiggles and lines. It’s as simple as that.
Keep the drinks topped up. If your fridge is just too small to keep all the wine cold, bottles chill quickly in the freezer if you wrap them in wet paper towels. Another space-saving tip is to make ice cubes from wine. Unlike cubes made from water, they won’t dilute your drinks as they melt.
Your guests are almost full. Will you triumph with a trifle or conquer with crème brûlée? Finish them off now and a historic victory is assured:
Choose a dessert that balances the rest of the meal. Try serving a light dessert like fruit or sorbet after a rich main course. If you’ve let them off lightly with a delicate main dish, follow with a devastatingly decadent pudding.
Buy a pre-made dessert if you need to cut down cooking. You can wow your guests by personalising it with drizzled chocolate sauce, a dollop of double cream or a handful of berries.
End the evening with after-dinner coffee and aperitifs. Offering a cheeseboard is also a great way to finish a meal. When it’s all over and the dust has settled, your guests will be completely stuffed.
The secret weapon
It always helps to be as well-equipped as possible. Samsung’s elegant RF24 refrigerator was born for battle, with a huge 510-litre capacity to handle all your party food.
The wide-opening double doors let you easily see and reach it all quickly, while the versatile Slide and Fold Shelf is adjustable so you can easily fit a tricky bottle of champagne.
That’s not all. The RF24 has an easy-access counter-height mid drawer to keep all the items you need to grab in a hurry. This drawer is also a Flex Zone, which means you can select its temperature to keep those groceries in their perfect environment so they’re tastier when you bring them to the table. The Smart Divider allows you to keep your culinary artillery neatly arranged, too.
When you need the edge in the kitchen, it’s the ultimate dinner party weapon.