How to host an elegant dinner party this festive season

It’s the season to be jolly, and to share your festive excitement with your closest friends and family. And that definitely means hosting a fantastic dinner party.

Just because winter is here does not mean your love for an elegant get-together or beautiful decorations needs to take a break – after all, what could be better than a fancy social gathering for your friends before everybody disperses in different directions for the holiday season?

Of course like everything else in life, a dinner party will go much more smoothly if you do some planning beforehand. So, before you start partying, let’s first do some planning.

Planning your soirée

Sit down immediately and start your to-do list. Everything runs smoother when you’re working from a list, and this will save you a lot of frustration and stress later on. Look through all your recipes and double-check on what you need to purchase for your big night.

Sort out the guest list, decide on a theme (it could be as simple as having all your guests wear something red), pick your music, and finalise the decorations for the evening. As you’re getting closer to the event, check everything off the list to ensure that they’re completed.

TIP: Although it’s perfectly acceptable to send a digital invite, it is much more personal (and unique these days) to do a handwritten one for a true holiday party. And receiving a paper invite rather than a mass email sets the tone for a more special experience with loved ones.

Canapes with black sturgeon caviar, salmon and dill. macro.

Deciding on the food               

Roasted lamb might be your favourite dish, but take your guests’ dietary restrictions into consideration. Make sure you cater for everybody (from vegetarian to halaal, and also those with allergies) by keeping the food neutral. For example, don’t put cheese on everything; rather serve it on the side. And have at least one gluten-free item that’s still delicious.


  • Remember to add personal touches to your evening, like serving your guests your favourite signature cocktail on arrival, or setting hand-written place cards at the dinner table.
  • Not all your guests might drink alcohol, so keep that in mind when stocking your bar or serving aperitifs before dinner.
The ambience

 Whether you’re planning a traditional Christmas party or a neutral holiday get-together, the overall vibe of your soirée should fit in with your theme.

 Make sure this extends to your choice of music – opt for something soft in the background so that everyone can still hear and converse with one another. Your lighting also needs to be checked, especially when it comes to the dinner table. Think of a softly lit room, like a dimmed chandelier or candles, to provide the perfect calming ambience.

 TIP: Focus on the small details. Work your theme into your choice of decorations. For example, hang a festive wreath on your front door, or use it on the table as a decorative centrepiece. Ornamental napkins (both at the table and the bar) are definitely recommended.

Christmas Place Setting

Your colour palette               

The most elegant party décor is always the ones with a simple and strong aesthetic point of view. Instead of picking as many colours as possible, tone it down to two hues (for example, red and gold; or white and silver) and use them to be the main inspiration for every design choice, from your entryway to your dinner table.

Sticking to two colours makes it easier to incorporate seasonal touches into your décor. White balloons and string lights can go simply smashing with Christmas ornaments in a deep green, for example.

TIP: Don’t choose a centrepiece that’s too tall. Your guests should still be able to see each other comfortably while engaging in conversation at the dinner table.

The seating arrangement                           

Never just wing it; even if you’re not using place cards, you should still direct your guests on where to sit. Part of the excitement of a dinner party is meeting new people, and as the host, you are in charge of this. Besides, if you’re always sitting with the same person/people, then you’re not expanding your circle.

TIP: A toast is an opportunity to show your appreciation for your guests’ presence. It is also a chance to say something meaningful, enjoyable and funny. You can even have your guests take turns on giving toasts throughout the evening for more interaction between everyone.

Canapes of cheese and strawberries with champagne

The entertainment factor 

Along with the good food and great decorations, you will need some entertainment to make the evening a success. This can take on a wide range of options, from hiring a photographer and letting your guests use funky accessories for the photos (such as funny hats, colourful bowties, etc.) to allowing everyone to create new signature cocktails themselves.

TIP: Part of your personal touch can be to send each guest home with a gift to make the event more memorable. Of course the type of gift will depend on your guests and your relationship with them; however, options like chocolates, wine or a sleek bottle stopper are always successful.

Christmas gift boxes