How To Entertain At Home | SLMan

How To Entertain At Home

Entertaining season is almost here – cue the martinis. Want your party to be the one everyone’s still talking about next year? We asked nine of the smoothest hosts we know for their top tips…
Photography TRINETTE REED/ STOCKSY UNITED
TRINETTE REED/ STOCKSY UNITED

Rikesh Chauhan

Writer & Photographer

"When I’m hosting friends for drinks or dinner, I like to find out what everyone’s drink of choice is. Whether it’s a cocktail or Diet Coke, there’s nothing better than being able to accommodate their favourite tipple. Growing up in an Asian household, we took great pride in cooking for guests, ensuring no one left on an empty stomach. Whatever your menu, make sure you have plenty to go around. Lighting, music and smell also play a big role in making your guests feel at home. I always keep the lights slightly intimate, the music relaxed – mellow jazz or soul – and have agarbatti (incense) lit in the hallway. Simple, subtle details make evenings at home that much more enjoyable."

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Jay Morjaria

Co-Founder of Mamma Pastrama

"For a relaxed evening, I follow one mantra: KISS – keep it simple stupid. Don’t stress yourself out with anything too elaborate. Make sure you have easy-to-assemble canapés, bold flavour dips, seasonal crudités and crowd-pleasing dishes that will keep you out of the kitchen and on the living room dancefloor. Make a big batch of cocktails beforehand – a negroni, old fashioned or martini are the easiest to prepare in advance – and always make more food than you think you’ll need to allow for unexpected guests."

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Ned Corbett-Winder

Founder Of Not Another Bill

"A good seating plan is crucial. When my wife and I have guests over, we like to mix up friendship groups and introduce new people to each other – a table planner can be useful. I always pre-mix cocktails (without ice) before our guests arrive, and make sure whatever glasses I use are chilling in the fridge beforehand. All of this means you can kick off the party in style, and not spend the best part of the evening making a mess. Another thing to think about is catering. Surprise your guests with caterers or hire a mixologist to take care of the cocktails. Caterer @MiaLeChef always does a great job at making the kind of food you want to eat with friends – sharing platters and delicious canapés. Then, think about invitations – formal invites are best, but it all depends on who you are inviting. Often, a simple text should do the trick."

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Brad Greatrix

Winemaker At Nyetimber

"If it’s a dinner party, think about wine pairings – no one will expect sommelier-quality stuff, but your local wine shop will be able to make suggestions based on your menu. I’d go for a chilled sparkling wine to start followed by crowd-pleasing whites and reds, and something interesting to accompany dessert, like a sweet demi-sec – our Cuvee Chérie is ideal. Just make sure you have plenty of ice buckets to keep everything chilled."

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Antoine Melon

Founder Of HOMEtainment

"Entertaining at home is all about setting a great ambience, which means getting the lighting right (dimmed lamps are always preferable over spotlights) and playing a killer playlist – if in doubt, go with jazz. Open bottles of wine 30 minutes before guests arrive to let it breathe, and chill champagne for ten minutes in the freezer to about 4°C so it’s the perfect temperature to crack open on arrival. If you’re taking on the cooking, plan your day to the hour to ensure you have enough time for finishing touches. For me, prep always starts the day before. In terms of menus, keep it simple – start with canapés and a seasonal starter like pea and rocket with burrata, then move onto a crowd-pleasing dish like herb-crusted lamb with veg or baked lemon sole. For dessert, keep it simple – homemade ice-cream is always a winner."

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Salvo Russo

Head Of Wine At Heliot Steak House

"I always like a magnum. They make everything feel that bit more special when hosting – and one bottle is never enough. The Good Ordinary Claret from Berry Brothers is always a winner at a dinner party. It’s also a good idea to bring out something special your guests won’t be expecting. In the run-up to Christmas, Matusalem VORS (a very old, rare sherry) or a bottle of Oloroso Dulce should do the trick. However, it’s equally important to have good non-alcoholic options, not just soft drinks. CBD-infused options and homemade cordials are having a moment right now."

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Aaron Christian

Filmmaker & Founder Of AC Studios

"Curate your guestlist carefully so people have the most memorable experience. Even if the food is bad, or the music is too low, your guests will forget those things if they’re having a great time. I usually provide a good mix of people from various walks of life. Maybe have some individuals who you know will connect, not just from a career perspective but those who have similar hobbies. Also, I love party games. I always have a few different types to help as icebreakers. Just make sure it’s nothing uncomfortable – they should be fun and aim to open up the conversation. Werewolf is a great option for large groups. Finally, go all out with the drinks, do a bit of research and plan cocktails with ingredients that inspire you. Serving guests is half the fun."

Visit AaronChristian.co.uk

Matin Miah

Co-Founder Of Rudie's Jerk Shack

"If you want to throw out tradition, try adding some Caribbean flair into the mix this festive season. My speciality of rum punch made with Wray & Nephew Overproof gets the party started every time. Then, throw on some soca music – my playlist on Spotify is a winner – and ensure your party nibbles are prepped. Think saltfish fritters, oxtail croquettes, Jerk chicken bites and salt cod bruschetta. Ensure there’s plenty of dancing and encourage your guests to let their hair down."

Visit RudiesLondon.com

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