Now, having a night to remember is no easy feat, but we’ve got you covered. Not only have we consulted an etiquette expert and a tablescape expert, but we’ve asked the Great British public for their dining dos and don’ts.
Discover the most popular cocktails, food suggestions, and tips on games, table decorations and settings. Here’s our essential guide to how to host a dinner party.
Best Dinner Party Cocktails
Cocktails are traditionally served as guests arrive, and after dinner, so it is one of the most important parts of hosting a dinner party. Plus, whether they are alcoholic drinks or mocktails, guests tickled by great-tasting cocktails often have their experience of the dinner party enhanced overall.
With so much to organise for the occasion, time is of the essence. Not only should you serve drinks that are easy to make, but try to choose drinks that are sure-fire crowd pleasers.
Based on our public poll, these are the 8 best dinner party cocktails, along with some NIO premixed selections you can sip on in no time.
Highly popular - particularly in frozen form - this fruity drink consists of rum, lime juice, syrup and, of course, strawberries. Go traditional with our premixed Daiquiri.
This tart, tangy Mexican classic is made with Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Our premixed Margarita contains Exotico Blanco Liqueur, a handcrafted tequila with a crisp, herbal aroma, spicy undertones, and a robust taste of fresh agave with hints of pepper and herbal notes.
An undisputed favourite, the Martini is made with gin and vermouth. A popular variation uses vodka, and if there are any coffee-lovers in attendance, you can treat them to our Espresso Martini.
Thought to be king of the trendy cocktails, the Cosmopolitan uses vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and Cointreau. Our twist is sweet, sharp and unapologetically pink.
Mimosa or Bucks Fizz
Bring the lightness of brunch vibes to the evening time with a mimosa or bucks fizz. Both are made using a blend of champagne and orange juice. The mimosa uses equal measures, while bucks fizz is two parts juice to one part champagne.
The perfect after-dinner special, the Manhattan is a warm blend of whisky, vermouth and Angostura bitters. Treat your guests to the rich flavours of our premade cocktail.
A fun, tropical drink consisting of coconut cream, pineapple juice and white rum. Bring the feeling of the beach to your living room.
Sex on the beach
Serve this summer classic by combining vodka with peach schnapps and cranberry juice. Add cocktail cherries and orange slices for a garnish.
For even more exquisite options, take a look at our cocktail party at home kit.
Which cocktails to serve and when
For complete cocktail drinking etiquette, William Hanson, the UK's leading etiquette coach, says, “Avoid overly sweet cocktails, especially if wine and other drinks will be served as the evening progresses, and enjoy an espresso martini after the meal”
Creating the food menu is much of the planning you’ll need to do when hosting a dinner party. Will your night have a theme? For example, an Italian-themed dinner party leans toward dishes like sweet and spicy olives, an indulgent pasta main and a tasty tiramisu. You can even pair your menu with some traditional aperitivo cocktails to impress your guests.
Whatever you decide, our top tip is to keep it simple. If you’re cooking for a lot of people, choose recipes that you know and are comfortable making rather than trying something new. Simple, seasonal food like fruitcake, gnocchi, baked salmon or ham won’t take too much time or effort and will allow you to spend more time with your guests.
If you don’t feel like serving several courses, consider a buffet-style meal. This is much easier to set up and buy for and allows guests to mingle as they fill their plates with their selection.
How to be a good host
Now you’re ready to host a dinner party, here are a few final dos & don’ts from etiquette expert William, and the Great British public to make sure there are no faux pas on the cards:
How to be a good guest
This guide may be all about hosting, but you’ll have your turn to be a guest too! William has given his tips on how to be the best kind of visitor:
Table setting and dinner party decorations
Now you’ve got your food and drink sorted - time to add the aesthetic flourishes that’ll really make your dinner party shine. Accessorise your dining table with a nice tablecloth - crisp white is a popular choice for a clean look, but if spillages and hot plate residue are a concern, consider off-white or a rich dark colour like burgundy. Don’t forget to add placemats and cocktail napkins to compliment.
Sam Hood is co-founder and chief creative officer of AMARA, a top boutique for luxury tableware. Here are her tips for dinner party table setting and making the most of your living space:
Games are a great form of entertainment as they keep everyone talking and keep up the energy. Here are our picks for dinner party games for adults:
A new twist on an old classic - wink murder. In each round, one person is secretly assigned the role of murderer. This person has the ability to "kill" other players by making eye contact and winking at them. When you're winked at, you have to feign sudden death. Except, in this version, you take a sip of your drink instead. Simple! Feel free to play this one with mocktails too!
A game most people will know, or at least seen on TV, grab some post-it notes and write the names of some famous people on them. Hand them out to your guests, who will stick these on their foreheads and then walk around the room asking questions to others in a bid to find out who they are. Have fun selecting a wide range of celebrities, from world leaders to pop stars, actors and everyone in between. It’s also a great cocktail party game for icebreakers to play ahead of dinner.
An oldie, but a goodie - take turns to have one person stand at the front and silently act out a film, tv show or song. The first person to guess takes their place!
There you have our recommendations for throwing the perfect dinner party. With expert advice, an audience survey and a wide selection of cocktails - you can’t go wrong! Want more dinner party ideas? We’ve got guides for occasions including Christmas, which will leave you more than ready to host a dinner party.