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Turning your dinner party into a night to remember

PUBLISHED: 12:42 11 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:42 11 May 2016

Delicious strawberry daiquiris  theres a nice red, white and blue theme going on here

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Delicious strawberry daiquiris  theres a nice red, white and blue theme going on here Getty Images/iStockphoto


Bonnie May’s got some super ideas to turn your dinner party into a night to remember – and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg

For many going out is easier, and I can’t disagree with that. But being at home means you have thought about, bought and then invested time in cooking a meal, and for me the feeling you get when there are resounding ‘ooh’s’ and ‘aah’s’ at the end makes it all worthwhile.

We are never short of an excuse to celebrate (even if it is just the weekend!) and I like to make sure that I don’t just wheel out the same formula – and in all honesty, this is where I think most people fall down and usually run out of ideas.

We all have our own dinner party tricks that work, but every once in a while it’s great to step out of that comfort zone and surprise not only our guests, but ourselves too. So, before you consider food, have a think about what you ‘normally’ do with the dining room table, this really is the starting point. Rather than just setting it up as usual, take a good look around the rest of the room, your kitchen, the garden, and get inspired.

Table Talk

Changing the way you entertain for a special occasion doesn’t need to be expensive. I, like lots of people, have one of those cupboards, the one with no order at all! It is filled with bits and pieces collected over the years. The gems of all shops for hidden treasures are local charity shops – unusual vases, cut glasses, quirky serving platters and very often beautiful linen napkins and cloths. If you can’t find a tablecloth you like, head to somewhere like Dunelm Mill,, and have material cut for you. This opens up creative doors on a grand scale, the choice is just fantastic and to really make a proper job buy enough material to have napkins made, too.

For most of us our dining table has a set spot where it sits. If space allows, reposition or even rotate it, to give a bit of a different feel to the room. Dress the table, if not with a whole cloth, maybe a runner to add colour or texture. Avoid the obligatory one vase of flowers in the centre and find little jam jars and non-matching pots to fill with herbs, flowers or ivy from the garden. Pepper the table with tea lights and maybe treat yourself to a set of new water glasses – even with an accent on colour.

Rather than have water bottles on the table, make a carafe of infused flavoured water, and if you think you are going to have two bottles of wine rather than one, buy a magnum. It looks grand on the table and rarely costs more. You probably won’t find these in abundance in the supermarket, but Jez at can point you in the right direction.

A well dressed table takes the pressure away from thinking that you need a different set of crockery, cutlery and glassware. However, or have some lovely options, or as I have mentioned before, why not hire it? It comes at a cost, but arrives at the door, gets collected the day after… and you don’t have to wash up! Check out or 

A peek into my little black book if you want to host a special occasion but time is not on your side:

• Furniture – Jaspers

• Flowers – Myrtle & Bloom

• Marquee – Katah

• Entertainment – Globestar Management

• Cake – The Cake House

• Canapes – Canapes Direct

• Cocktail bar – Exquisite Cocktails

• Cheeseboard – Pong Cheese

• Photographer – Shoot Me Studios

• Personalised Stationery – (Joanna) at Elegant Stationery


Susannah’s Sauces in Brimpton: Homemade, gluten free and free of additives - Now feast your eyes on this super selection – they’ll take you through a six course treat if that’s what you fancy, says Sue Bromley

At home with Alvin Magallanes - Invite editor Jan Raycroft and Maureen McLean round and be prepared: the bar is now very high because we’ve been spoilt with an exclusive ‘Showstopper’


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