After several months of lockdown, we can finally meet with friends again provided any gatherings abide by the latest government guidelines. This means that dinner parties are back on the agenda, and there’s no better way to catch up with friends than over a delicious home-cooked meal, a few drinks and some lively conversation.
However, we’re not completely out of the woods just yet. Social distancing and hygiene rules should still be followed, but that doesn’t have to put a dampener on the fun. Here are a few tips on how to host a responsible post-lockdown dinner party:
Arrange the space safely
In light of the pandemic, it’s important to consider the safety of your guests and to ensure they feel comfortable attending the dinner party. For starters, you should assume that everyone is still following government guidance and set your event up accordingly.
Firstly, ensure you have plenty of antibacterial gel around your home, including on the dinner table, as well as in the kitchen and the bathroom. When guests arrive, ask them to thoroughly wash their hands, or stick a sign up notifying everyone to do so. For the seating arrangements, try spreading out placements as much as you can — leave a bigger gap than usual in between chairs and sofas if possible. Bear in mind that those who have lived together during lockdown will feel more comfortable sitting next to each other, while people from other households may not.
If lack of indoor space is an issue, you can always take your post-lockdown dinner party to the garden, weather permitting. This will be easier to manage than staying inside, and allows for more space for socially distanced blankets and tables. Also, you have the opportunity to go all-out on decorations for the occasion with fun signs, artwork and fairy lights.
Serve food individually rather than buffet style
While there’s something quite social about creating sharing platters of finger food to enjoy at the dinner table, this involves different people (and their hands) picking food from the same bowl. Yes, antibacterial hand gel should get rid of any nasties before anybody touches any food, but to be on the safe side it’s probably best to give each guest their own portion on individual plates.
Since this is likely to be many people’s first such occasion outside of lockdown, it needs to be good. We recommend going for an Italian theme, because who doesn’t like Italian? Bruschetta makes for a versatile starter in that you can add any toppings you fancy. Traditional bruschetta uses tomatoes and basil as toppings, but there are many different variations you can try.
For the mains, you can’t go wrong with a hearty, comforting bowl of pasta. While this is easy to cook, there’s an art to doing it successfully. To really impress your guests you could make your own pasta from scratch. For dessert, try out your baking skills with a creamy panna cotta or indulgent tiramisu. Or for something a bit more simple, pair a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso, and voilà – you’ve got affogato!
Mix some cocktails
A post-lockdown dinner party isn’t complete without some beverages, and delicious cocktails are a surefire hit. Amongst the rising popularity of meal delivery kits during lockdown, drinks companies have jumped on the bandwagon. You can now treat guests to DIY cocktails with all ingredients sent right to your door. All you need to do is pour and add ice, saving you a trip to the supermarket.
If you do feel like having a go at mixing your own cocktails, you could try the classics like the mojito, espresso martini and cosmopolitan. Or, if you want to stick to the theme there are plenty of delicious Italian cocktails like the negroni, aperol spritz and bellini.
We’re very proud to bring you this feature in association with Pasta Evangelists. For more articles, please pay a visit to our lifestyle page.