Throwing a dinner party is an essential man skill.. and here’s how to get it right.
Do you imagine Leonardo DiCaprio sitting around on a Saturday night in his boxers playing Xbox and eating Domino’s, or entertaining a glamorous table with tall tales and glasses of Moet? Sure, Leo might have a few more supermodels as his soirees than you do at yours, but don’t let that stop you from hosting a killer gathering.
Seating that mouthy Breitbart disciple with 101 reasons why he would’ve voted for Trump next to a smug social media activities who shared a dozen Bernie Sanders memes a day . . . yeah, that’s not going to work. If your guests are all friends, great, then send the invite to six or 10 of them and watch the conversation flow. If not, then choose judiciously — a mix of introverts and extraverts, singles and couples, raconteurs and listeners, but people with enough in common (don’t expect Mr. 7.30 Report to strike up sparkling conversation with Ms. Keeping Up with the Kardashians).
Unless the rantings of Bruce McAvaney is the vibe you’re going for, don’t just flick the footy on for background noise — a bit of low-key music is a better way of setting the mood, just loud enough to patch over the occasional silence but not so loud it drowns out conversation. Beware of Spotify stumbling upon your S Club 7 obsession and embarrassing you in front of the room — instead, whack on a carefully curated playlist that starts slow but ends up with a little more energy once you’ve had a few vinos. And go to the effort of setting the table — cloth napkins and a few lit candles helps elevate the sense of occasion.
Preparation is the name of the game, so you don’t have to haul yourself away from the table for an hour and a half to grill a dozen steaks or arrange an intricate croquembouche. Select a crowd-pleasing main you’ve cooked plenty of times before, and something you can leave in the oven or the slow-cooker while you’re at the table — we’re talking roast chook, lasagne or moussaka, lamb shoulder — with salads you assembled before the guests arrived, plus a dessert that can just sit in the fridge until you’re ready — it’s a tough crowd that doesn’t lick their lips at the thought of a chocolate mousse or a lemon meringue pie. This isn’t the time to be experimenting with some Heston Blumenthal recipe, pal.
Make sure you’re guests have something to sip on the moment they walk in the door (A: it makes you look like a good host. B: it helps get the party started), and if you’re a deft hand behind the bar, offer them a cocktail, which doubles as a good conversation-starter. At the table, tuck into a few bottles of wine and if you’re going to drink beer, invest in something a bit snazzier than stubbies of VB. And a single-malt whisky, a sweet rum, or a nip of port is the perfect way to the end the evening.