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Words from a wonderful (if not slightly over-bearing) host on the perfect dinner party

I love entertaining. My mum has trained me, from an almost concerning age, to be the most wonderful (if not slightly over-bearing) host. I never run out of ice. I always remember that my granny is allergic to avocado and although she’s not allergic to raisins, she truly despises them. I know that good red wine should be served slightly chilled and not, as the lowly heathens say, at ‘room temperature.’ I own a superb array of napkins and my cheesecake has been known to soothe even the most cantankerous dinner guests. Here are my trusted tips to making a dinner party as light, decadent and impressive as a perfectly-baked soufflé.

By Erin Starr


There is no greater terror than still having to go to the shops, bake dessert, clean the house and shower before your guests arrive in an hour. Be sure to give yourself enough time. A meal cooked in a rush always has a particularly bitter taste of panic. Buy your ingredients ahead of time, put on a Norah Jones CD, pour yourself a glass of wine and take your time.


This might sound ridiculous but I always make a point of over-catering. The Jewish woman in me will simply not allow for a hungry tummy at my dinner table. My mum always made sure there was enough for my dad to have seconds and my brother to have thirds. Besides, there is nothing quite as delicious as leftovers.


Candle light can hide a multitude of sins. There is nothing as atmospheric as dim lighting, flickering candles and a good record playing. Throw in a bottle of expensive Merlot and you could serve your guests a rubber boot.


Before you even head out to buy your groceries, think about the basics; the forgotten little fundamentals that might make your night a little easier. Check you have extra toilet paper, black bags, ice, salt and butter. Take a little peek at the electricity meter – sadly, I learnt this one from experience.


Even the most seasoned hosts have their shoddy days. Sometimes the chicken is dry and sometimes, despite all protestation, the soup is salty as all hell. The best thing you could possibly do is get over it. If something goes wrong, stay calm, be gracious and laugh. Imperfection is the spice of life. Dinner party flops make for fabulous future dinner party anecdotes. Pour yourself another glass of wine and go enjoy yourself.

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