Give a great dinner party

No season brings people closer together than winter.

Just because activity is restricted to indoors most of the time doesn't mean things have to be dire. So organise a good dinner party that will have them asking for more.

It might seem intimidating getting everything right - the mood, the food and the right people to invite - but you have some of your basic answers right there.

"A successful dinner party depends very much on the guest list, the food, the ambience and of course a happy host," says Marla Martins of Incredible Edibles, a Johannesburg catering company.

Cracking these three elements might seem easy but not if you end up being unhappy like Jennifer Arniston in the movie The Break Up.

Anything that ends up upsetting the host can render the occasion a disaster. You have to get everything you want just the way you want it.

If it's 12 lemons you want for decoration, go get them. Give yourself enough time to put the affair together and don't deceive yourself into thinking that you can wing it by the grace of God.

"Though we do parties three to five days a week, I have found that every dinner party is different," Martins says.

"The host will have drastic ideas and to put everything together might require a high level of communication between her and the caterers.

"Allowing yourself enough preparation time is of paramount importance."

Among the components of a great dinner party are lighting, music, dinner sets, wine glasses, table decoration and dress code.


Chandeliers and candles

Martins says nothing announces a great dinner better than a nice chandelier above the dining table.

"It even makes the food variants look nicer and the same effect can also be seen in the dishes."

Fortunately chandeliers are not just for the aristocratic few anymore. There are very reasonably priced chandeliers from bargain shops.

Otherwise, depending on the setting, candles create a warm and beautiful ambience.


"Lounge music is a good backdrop for a dinner party," says DJ Teddy Mhlanga.

"People play classical music at these events but that usually after the food has been served.

"Before that lounge music is perfect because it allows people to mingle and drink and get ready to sit down when the time arrives."


The theme is drafted by the use of colours. They might be colours that are not always part of the overall house décor.

"Cushions, plants, red or yellow candles and the number of lights all create various colour splendours designed to create a certain mood for the guests," says Martins.



Most graceful guests come bearing bottles of wine. With the global credit crunch raising a wave of financial responsibility, more people will be willing to help out but the onus is with the host to be prepared.

"Have red and white bottled wine," says Martins.

Also make sure there is enough ice for after-dinner drinks.


This depends entirely on what you want to serve. Always have a salad in case you have vegetarians and to help decorate the starter plate.

"Most people serve fish with starters because fish goes down well with wine and the combination cleans the palate for a better appetite," says Martins.

Main course

Again, this is entirely dependent on the host.

"But make sure there are enough food variants so that those who might have allergic fears can still have enough food to fill them up," says Martins.


Otherwise known as the signature of every dinner party.

Though many people tend to not touch their dessert, dining etiquette requires that everyone tries at least a spoonful, so you might have to go the extra mile and whip up some dessert.