Six Things You Need to Make Your Next Dinner Party Even Better

Skip the takeout and host a proper repast like a pro.
Kat Hayes
Published on March 18, 2019

From Friday, May 1, 2020 a maximum of two adult Sydneysiders can visit a second household, so you can start planning small dinner parties. Remember, though, that you need to continue to follow the rest of the social distancing and public gathering restrictions.

If, like us, you've suddenly realised that you go to bed before 10pm, enjoy a fair slosh of milk in your tea and your ankles crack inexplicably when you stand up or sit down, you might be feeling like you're getting too old for places like 'the club'. Well, we say embrace it; start doing grown-up things like having dinner parties instead. Trust us, you're probably not the only one in your crew who'd much rather be at home on the couch, sipping G&Ts with mates and in bed by a wholesome hour.

The days of nice cheese, top-shelf (or close to) alcohol, decent home cooking and adult conversations about the state of the world (you'll need the drinks for this) have arrived. So your dinner party is as successful as it can be, here are some tips. Start by buying some matching crockery, teach yourself to make a good roast and move on down this list.


Julia Sansone


Luckily this one is easy. Well, it can be. You can throw together a refreshing G&T — this timeless combination of gin and tonic water isn't to be sneered at — whip up a spritz or get fancy with something slightly more complicated, like a negroni (which is just equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth). If you want go even fancier, we've wrapped up some recipes for run tipples, such as sangria, a basil collins and le grand fizz — over here.


Kitti Gould.


Proven over the centuries, the Italians know what to do with their savoury pre-dinner snacks. So, get your head, heart and stomach around the bellissimo antipasti game. Head to a proper Italian food store to stock up on the goods, because if there's something worth spending most of your week's pay on it's a really, really good pecorino and some deluxe salumi. Try the truly hallowed halls of Mediterranean Wholesalers in Melbourne's Brunswick, the storied Paesanella Food Emporium in Sydney's Marrickville or New Farm Deli in Brisbane's New Farm, which has been operating since 1975. You can also check out our Gin List for some recipe ideas for your pre-dinner eats — and what's more, each one comes with a gin cocktail pairing to try. You're welcome.



Being an adult is all about putting in the effort — think making bread from scratch, remembering to send birthday cards or, you know, finally graduating from the sharehouse vibes and hanging art on the walls. The same thing goes for when you're hosting a dinner party: why not put in just a smidge more effort? Look up how to properly set a table, invest in some cloth serviettes (it's an eco-friendly decision, too) and make place cards for your guests. (Pinterest has approximately 200 million ideas to inspire you.) For the final touch, find every candle and candleholder you may own and scatter them across the table. Just no scented candles, please. You don't want those Glasshouse fragrances clashing with the meal you've thoughtfully prepared.



Nothing can make a dinner party more uncomfortable than glaring fluorescent lights or the sun setting mid-meal making it almost impossible to see the food on your plate. Ease your way into the darkening evening with soft, warm lighting a la the candle collection above— or just throw a scarf over a lamp and call it décor. Whatever floats your lantern. If you're sitting outside for the evening, set up some candles early on to light once the sun dips beneath the horizon. Oh, and a string or two of fairy lights never goes amiss.



It's the pièce de résistance of the evening, the opportunity to impress your friends with your cooking prowess (be it newly learned or well-honed). What you'll serve to eat should come with careful decision. Do any of your guests have dietary requirements?  How much time do you have to prep and cook? Does your current salary afford a full roast to feed ten guests? When you've considered all these factors, then it's time to scour Google for the best-rated recipes. We've also delved into our archives to find you some past recipes we've scored from the likes of Sydney's Thievery, Porteño, Big Poppa's and Three Blue Ducks.



The first knock or ring of your doorbell may alert you of the fact that you have no music playing yet. Your mind has been kept busy prepping and cooking and primping that the evening's soundtrack hasn't even yet registered. Don't panic — we're here to help. Grab your phone and just chuck this smooth dinner party playlist on for the evening. Erykah Badu and Toto will help you chase away the nerves and comfortably settle into the evening (G&T in hand — you deserve it).

Published on March 18, 2019 by Kat Hayes
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