Hosting dinner parties are difficult, more so when it’s during the festive season. And, considering that the highlight of any gathering is the food, deciding on a menu is no cakewalk. There’s a lot that goes in to ensure that you walk away with the title of the perfect hostess, and unless you get the theme, the ambiance, the drinks, the Tableware, and even the cutlery on point, you’re at risk of losing your title!
While everyone knows how to go about hosting a casual dinner for close friends, formal and semi-formal dinners can prove to be challenging. But before you melt into a puddle of stress and tears, we’re here to guide you through the whole affair.
A classic formal dinner might sound daunting but once a few things are in place, nothing can stop you from giving your guests a wonderful evening.
Ambience, Theme, and Décor – Since the setting is formal, the ambience shouldn’t be too loud in terms of lighting and music. For the décor, keep it simple and sophisticated. You can add a statement decorative piece like an exquisite Candelabra or a few pieces chrome/metallic vases on the dining table. You can also place name cards on the table to add the feeling of formal dining.
Menu – The difficult part of formal dinner is the food. A seven-course meal might sound like a disaster waiting to happen. It doesn’t have to be if you plan it well. Here’s how you can serve a seven-course meal:
Appetizer: A variety of small hors d’oeuvres like a kebab platter or a few types of canapés will set the dinner in motion.
Soup: You can serve a spiced pumpkin soup which would suit the winter season just right.
Salad: A simple, light salad does the trick when there are more dishes to follow.
Main course 1: You can serve any fish or seafood dish for this round. A popular option is a salmon dish. Follow it with a citric-flavored drink like a lemon sorbet as a palate cleanser.
Main course 2: For this course, you can serve a poultry or a red meat dish like a grilled steak.
Cheese: Serve a platter of cheese, starting from mild flavored to strong, pungent ones, and fruits like red grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and figs to go with it.
Dessert: Tiramisu, souffle, French tarts are good options to end a formal dinner.
Cutlery: Don’t forget to bring out the finest dinnerware and crockery. For a traditional seven-course dinner, try serving each course with different sets of cutlery. Make sure you have proper sets for every course.
Note: Since this is a long meal, keep the portion size of all the dishes small. It’d be a pity if your guests were full after the third course.
Although hosting a semi-formal dinner is still stressful, proper planning will ensure you have a smooth dinner.
Ambience, Theme and Décor – This atmosphere will be a little more relaxed. Keep the décor comfortable. You can have a vase of flowers on the dining table but don’t overdo it. Add some colorful cushions to brighten up the room without making it seem too casual.
Menu – A relatively less stressful menu, there’s still room for mistakes if you don’t plan it well. For a dinner of this type, you can serve a five-course meal in the following order
Appetizers: A mezze platter or fritters to begin with
Salad: A refreshing salad that isn’t too heavy on the palate is ideal.
Main course: A moussaka will be a nice twist against the regularly done steak and vegetables. Or you can also serve lasagna with garlic bread. Follow it with a lemon sorbet as a palate cleanser.
Cheese: Serve them some fruits and cheese on a platter to freshen their palate.
Dessert: An easy but classic cheesecake or a molten chocolate cake is a perfect way to end this five-course meal.
Cutlery: Although you don’t have to bring out your finest china, have a few beautiful serving platters to serve the appetizers and desserts.
You have to keep in mind that this is a European style course meal and certain courses might not complement Indian meals. But given that Indian cuisine has quite the variety, feel free to make changes. Instead of having two main courses, you can have just one main course with a spread consisting of a variety of dishes including rice, flatbreads, different types of curry, stir-fried vegetables, chutneys and more. For dessert, you can serve two kinds – one western and one Indian like gulab jamuns.
Hosting dinner parties is not easy. But there’s a thrill in the whole process of planning, executing, and finally seeing your guests enjoy their time. So, don’t let anything intimidate you. Start planning that perfect dinner to wow your guests and have a great Diwali!
Image Courtesy: Google