Dinner party essentials

Arm yourself with these simple tips and tricks.

The key to throwing a memorable dinner party, while also being able to escape the kitchen while it's all happening, is putting a little thought into your menu - and the appliances you'll use to create them.

Make the most of your time
Plan ahead a little to devise which elements can be prepared in advance of the first door knock. Soup is a classic entrée, and can easily be made even a day early. In fact, roasted cauliflower soup actually benefits from extra time to develop flavour in the fridge. It's easily prepared in just half an hour and will only need to be reheated and garnished when you're ready to serve.

Another trick to keep up your sleeve is quince-glazed pork. Aside from being impressive, it's quick to prepare, and a side of make-ahead celeriac mash is an easy element to tick off your list earlier in the day.

Now that there's plenty of time to spare, cap off the night with a flourish in the form of a chocolate coconut meringue pie. This show-stopper can be made in advance and chilled. Whip up the espresso-flavoured Italian meringue closer to the pointy end of the evening, and all there will be left to do is take orders for espresso.

Table-topping essentials
A few simple touches can lend a sense of occasion to your table. Candles and flowers are essential. One grand flower arrangement makes for awkward dining; instead, place a line of three smaller bunches along the table (three is the magic, harmonious number when it comes to styling). And keep them uniform for a more streamlined effect.

To create a twinkly, warm atmosphere, groups of tealights in glasses bring a magical touch to the table. When it comes to dinnerware, underplates lend a sophisticated look, especially under soup bowls.

Tie everything together with a colourful table runner fashioned from a length of eye-catching fabric.

Dinner looks better already.

This article was brought to you by Winning Appliances.

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