Hostess With The Mostest – Ideas for a Seasonal Dinner Party

Never one to shy away from an opportunity to host, Spiv jumped at the chance to have all our closest friends round for an Autumnal themed dinner party a few weeks ago. (Especially as she’d very recently been gifted a beautiful new Rangemaster cooker from Ao.com.) And in true Homebirds style, she went all out. The food, the drinks, the styling, the entertainment. No stone was left unturned. I, being the significantly less domesticated of the two of us, offered to provide dessert. So I’m calling it a team effort!

The Theme

Whenever the Homebirds organise or host an event, we do love a theme! It just adds a bit of fun to the occasion and a sense of purpose. It’s also a great way to unify all the different elements of the experience. At the time, Halloween was looming and Autumn was in full swing. So we went for a seasonal theme with pumpkins, hessian and pine cones and an all-round cosy vibe with plenty of cold-weather comforts.

We wanted to make it a stand-out occasion, so we asked our guests to dress up. Nothing less than black tie would do!

If you’re having a dinner party of your own, there’s a whole host of themes you might consider. Murder mystery, Spanish tapas, Casino Night, Mexican Fiesta, Masquerade, Christmas dinner! There’s all sorts. Whatever you choose, tie everything to your theme. From the drinks you serve, to the way you style your table. Even the dress code for your guests!

The Menu

Spiv kept things traditional and served up some lovely classics, all real home comfort food. For the dessert, I simply had to make use of all the pumpkins we’d both used to style our homes with for Halloween.

~ Starter ~

White wine mushroom bruschetta with halloumi

    ~ Main~

Caramelised Red Onion Sausages with horseradish mash, roasted parsnips and carrots and steamed green beans served with butter

~ Dessert ~

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

Both Spiv and I have recently been gifted a stunning Rangemaster cooker each by ao.com. Spivs is The Rangemaster Classic in Black and mine, Country Cream. These multi-faceted ovens were an absolute godsend for both of us in the preparation for this event. In her role as head chef, Spiv was able to simultaneously fry the halloumi on the griddle plate, heat the mushrooms in white wine sauce on the hob, grill the bread, roast the vegetables, warm the plates and cook the sausages (f0r 13 people no less!).

A stand out feature for me is the door shelf in the main oven, which enables you to easily access and see the food you’re cooking the instant you open the door. Great when checking how well my pumpkins were roasting for the dessert!

The separate side oven was so handy and we couldn’t have catered for this many, with  sanity, without it! I have a real pet hate when food is served and cold plates and the custom built plate rack for this exact job is a feature we have certainly welcomed in our home.

The Drinks

Booze is such a key part of any social event, so whatever tipple you’re offering its always best to make a real statement with it. Spiv and I set up a self-serve gin station with all the trimmings for her dinner party and it went down an absolute storm! We tried to include something for everyone; juniper berries, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, citrus peel, lavender and pink pepper, star anise and lemon grass are all fabulous gin botanicals and available in your local super market. Don’t be fooled into buying the over priced fusion kits, become a mixologist for the evening and go wild!

The Styling

What dinner party would be complete without a well dressed table, adorned with all manner of creative touches to really get your guests swooning, before they’ve even seen the food? If you are anything like us, you will have a whole host of social events pencilled in your diary, especially with the festive period on our door step. So we wanted to share our simple yet chic table dressing tips and style secrets, all of which were achieved on a budget, without compromising on style.

Use a neutral cotton table cloth to create a clear contrast between your runner and your other accessories.

Create a simple and rustic runner using a brown craft paper and simply run down the centre of your table.

Attach hessian around 3 cm thick to one end the runner on one edge. twist, creating some tension from end to end and staple to the table cloth and craft paper. Repeat this process on the other side of the craft paper for an understated border.

To add further detail and sophistication, try adding some lace and twisting it alongside the hessian. Hessian and lace are a match made in heaven.

Getting Personal

We had the opportunity to play around with many ideas and styles for the place mats and place names and loved this part of the styling process.

We decided on the simple mugwort stamp in one corner of the place tags and in all four corners of the place mats. You know how its goes, less is often more!

If you’d like to create a heavenly Christmas table, take a look at some of the other festive and seasonal stamps East Of India have on offer.

Using craft card allowed us to create personalised place settings, with an autumnal vibe.

Foliage

Visiting our local florist at this time of year really excites us! Berries, eucalyptus and oak leaves formed the perfect combination of autumnal colour on the table. We had no need to trim or even use florists wire to secure. The stems were elegantly placed down the centre of the table around my Circular Tea light Holder to create a focal point.

Finishing Touches

Scattered over the table and bar area was orange and clove Pot Pourri including pine cones, acorns, cinnamon and wicker, fitting perfectly with the other natural, outdoor autumnal tones in the styling.

The place names were accompanied by a posy of cinnamon, a sprig of rosemary and a slice of dried orange, stacked upon one another. This was secured with a piece lace and the twine from the place name tag. Nothing quiet says autumn like that combination hey?

I got a little carried away and also dipped some ivy leaves in gold craft paint, which was incredibly easy. Holly looked equally as affective and would wow guests at your Christmas dinner table. Tea lights were placed on small wooden logs cut by my partner with hand saw, as can be seen above.

Matte black accessories are making an appearance all over the high street, kitchenware included. This new matt black cutlery set from Wilko added that je ne sais qoui and was a big hit with the guests.

Miniature white and green pumpkins, teamed with larger varieties were also incorporated in our table set up. Why not swap them this festive season for the clementine, pear or even a stylishly done bauble? I basically gathered every candle I owned from around the home to complete the look and add warmth and intimacy to the table.

Photo Credit: Brit.co

Photo credit: redonline.co.uk

Photo credit: Scandinavian Home

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We had a ball preparing for our seasonal dinner part and Spiv was certainly the hostess with the mostest! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading all about it and that you’ve been inspired to schedule in a themed dinner part of your own this festive season. Good luck and enjoy!

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