Most of us are now living the “new normal” life, post pandemic lockdown. Before this situation arose, the most stressful part of hosting a dinner party was keeping dietary requirements in mind, remembering who is allergic to gluten, and who won’t eat meat. Our new situation means that a dinner party poses a lot more stress, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Let us guide you through planning the perfect, yet safe, dinner party.
Your Guest List:
When considering the guest list, think very carefully about who you are inviting, the last thing we want to become is the source of a new cluster of infection. A dinner party should always have a minimum of eight people in attendance, host included. Make it less predictable by inviting a mixture of people, not all should be friends, yet, not all should be strangers, as that would feel more like a business meeting. You can have a mix of singles and couples, but try to avoid inviting purely married people.
Keeping invitees a secret from other guests is part of the fun, so avoid group emails to keep the suspense. Sending a personal invite by post is a lovely touch, and could include RSVP options.
You should also take this time to advise guests of safety protocol which has been undertaken by yourself and by your suppliers. There are many new rules and etiquette to be aware of, and your guests may feel more comfortable when they know these measures are in place.
Dress up, and encourage your guests to do the same, so many of us are missing huge parts of our usual social calendar, and so with it the opportunity to put on our favourite pieces. Men should choose a jacket or other formal wear, where the ladies can go from a sophisticated trouser and heel to a gorgeous cocktail dress.
Our Rolls Royce dress is both elegant and comfortable, with it’s high low affect hem, it is also machine washable, making it the perfect outfit for dining in style at home.
If you choose to hold your dinner party outside, which is recommended due to CoronaVirus, we recommend a classic outfit, such as our Soiree Beaded Top, paired with our Sequin Culottes and our Gold Waist Belt. This outfit is elegant and sophisticated, without being over dressed, and allows you to move around with ease.
You should invite guests to arrive between 8 and 8.30, and use staggered timings to avoid congestion at your front door. Aim to serve the first course before 9pm, any later than this is considered bad practice as it makes assumptions about people’s lifestyles and family situations. Guests should not leave before 11pm unless necessary, as this would make it appear people had not enjoyed the evening.
Some of the hardest things to overcome will actually be the smaller things, like the hello hug or kiss. Once guests have confirmed they will be attending, you can follow up with a quick missive detailing any rules you may need to put into place. Include information about acceptable social distances, limiting guests to the entertaining areas of your home, restricing access to living areas. It is important to emphasise that masks must be worn on arrival and that your seating arrangements will be a little different to pre-covid parties.
Do not lament the lack of canapé, but adopt a new format, individual platters can be served to each guest once they have been seated after arrival.
As before this pandemic, drinks are a vital part of any successful party, this doesn’t mean you intend for your guests to leave the party intoxicated. Make sure that your serving staff are aware that taste is more important than the quantity of alcohol used.
Discuss cocktail presentation with your staff beforehand, stylish looking drinks will elevate the mood of any soiree. During the pandemic and the current obligatory use of masks, straws would be a useful addition to your drinks table, avoid the use of plastic/single use straws as these are considered a faux pas and bad for the environment.
A seated dinner party is a far safer option whilst trying to adhere to social distancing, a buffet style dinner will make it very difficult to stick to the current guidelines. Depending on furniture options within your house, round tables mean conversation can still flow freely whilst keeping ones distance. Avoid large table decorations as these can hinder good dialogue, however, do have your florist create a beautiful bouquet for your entryway.
Consider using our embroidered monogram masks in place of name cards, these can also make a wonderful parting gift for your guests. Another good tip, to avoid the mixing up of glasses, would be the use of different coloured glassware, or ribbons on glasses for each household/person in attendance, these colours could match the masks you have gifted each guest.
As the host, you can expect to be on your feet more than during a pre-covid dinner party. You should expect your guests to remain seated, 2 metres apart of course, only moving to use the bathroom facilities. Discreet hand washing and sanitising facilities should be provided for guests.
Modern table setting etiquette is a far cry from that which we grew up with. Consider picking a table colour, discuss with the caterer which foods they will be serving, and use tableware which complement the colours of the food. Avoid lavish table decorations, and consider using a single flower type, or colourful fruits and vegetables to decorate. Include stylish small details, such as fun napkin holders or table confetti.
Our Final Word:
Do not be deflated if your guests do not feel comfortable in attending, these are very difficult times and we have to be understanding of others feelings. Lastly, have a wonderful time with your guests, Covid-19 is a worry for everyone, but life has to go on, even if it is our “new normal” lives.