10 tips for hosting an elegant winter dinner party

Here's how to host a fancy dinner party and ensure it's not just your guests who enjoy themselves, but you do, too

hosting an elegant winter dinner party

Photography: Frances Marais | Styling: Charl Edwards

Previously we showed you how to create a cosier home, with tips for the ultimate self-care space. We’re still not prepared to leave our homes yet, however, having spent enough time in our own company we are now ready to set a few extra places at the table.

Send the kids to grandma’s house for the night and then use Superbalist’s easy-to-follow tips for an elegant winter dinner party that will make you the host with the most.

hosting an elegant winter dinner party

Set The Mood

Music can be interactive or hands off. For us it’s a mix of both where guests can play DJ flipping through a stack of vinyl and CDs (yay nostalgia) and then switch over to a perfectly curated Spotify playlist so that you can focus on other things while the band plays on.

Lightingis so important when it comes to ambience, and so if you have dimmers – use them. Otherwise switch off your overhead lights and use lamps, clusters of candles, string lights, exposed bulbs and more to warm up your space.

Use furniture to spread your party out and create different hubs for people to mix. Set up a bar cart on one end of the living room, a snack buffet in the dining room and layer rugs on top of one another with scatter cushions and throws for cosy seating in front of the fireplace.

Set the table early and wow your guests as they arrive. A minimal table setting will allow for your best dining and napery to really stand out. Use luxe textures and materials like velvet, rose gold, copper, marble and high end glassware to set the tone of your evening, creating the desired mood.

Then because it’s winter your guests will arrive with layers, so help them to take a load off by setting up a designated area for coats, scarves, umbrellas, raincoats and whatever else they arrive with. A dedicated closet, spare room, or even a sturdy chair can work.

hosting an elegant winter dinner party

Have a Drink

As guests arrive take them to your bar cart to fix them a welcome drink, and then invite them to help themselves for the rest of the night. You should have wine, spirits, mixers, glasses and other drinkware, garnishes and enough ice to keep the party going for as long as it needs to. A few carafes of fancy water (this is just water with some cucumber, lemon slices and mint floating in it) is a must-have.

Winter is for wine lovers, and it’s best to focus on full-bodied reds like a merlot or cabernet, which have plenty of character and are best served in bigger, bowl-shaped glasses that will bring out the flavour profiles of the wine better. Otherwies tumblers not only do the job just fine, they won’t get knocked over as easily when things inevitably turn rowdy.

Eat Up

So far you’ve done everything to allow your guests to bask in the warmth of your party, but excellent hosting skills and free-flowing drinks means naught if the food can’t match up. It’s crucial that you’re present at your own party and not stuck in the kitchen all night, so prepare as much beforehand as possible so that all that’s left to do is serve.

Hearty one-pot meals and roasts are best, and an easy way to cater for all your guest’s food preferences is to make sure you serve enough veggie and whole-grain sides for your vegetarian and gluten-free friends.

Say Your Goodbyes

There’s nothing worse than having hangers-on who don’t know when it's time to go home. You can take care of this promptly and without awkwardness by serving coffee with a gift. First replace your bar cart’s contents with hot drinks and then offer everyone a party-favour, which can be anything from the recipe for the meal you served to a takeaway helping of desert.

But first, if the answer to your winter social obligations is 'dine at mine', shop Superbalist for occasion-ready product, easy updates that will allow you to host your most sophisticated dinner party, ever. 

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