A dinner party guide for winter festivities

Pearl & Pear previously showcased The Ultimate Guide to At Home Entertaining. Now the festive season is fast approaching we wanted to ensure your winter dinner party is remembered by all your guests. There’s so much to think about and we’ve asked our favourite suppliers to piece together their top tips. Recreate yours at home, we’d love to know how you get on!

The Invitation from Director of Cutture, Helen Sharland

So, it’s party season and, of course, you want yours to be the one people come to. As well as being the only one they talk about afterwards (for all the right reasons). The first your guests will know about your party, is their invitation, so let’s start there. The first job for an invitation is to stand out, particularly at this time of year when there are numerous events with many falling on the same dates.

In a world of e-vites, a paper invitation can really stand out. We receive so few letter and cards in the post today (that aren’t about bills) that it generates excitement from the start.

Now onto the design itself. It’s best to start with the venue; it’s a lovely and simple way of setting the tone for your party so that guests have some idea of what to expect. If your party is at home, make the most of this by incorporating laser cut images of your house, your family, even your dog! You can still add festive touches by adding a winter setting. It creates a lovely warmth and is beautifully personal.

The ultimate way of creating stand out, is to send an invitation that’s not just an invitation. Your party details could be concealed within a Christmas cracker that your guest has to pull to open. And for something that could be used year after year, the front of your invitation could be a traditional advent calendar. It’s a gorgeous touch and turns the invitation into a gift.

Founder of Ananya Cards, Vaishali adds

When taking inspiration from the season, you can look at metallics either as the main colour or as an accent colour. In terms of motifs and patterns, you can be inspired by cones and snowflakes or red holly berries.

In our opinion, there is no comparison between digital invitations and printed invitations. Physical invitations stand out and make your guests feel special and excited for the party to follow. Printing techniques like foiling in rose gold or silver add that extra wow factor to invitations. Beautifully designed invitations become keepsakes and treasured both by the host and guests.

The Options:

Luxury bespoke designs from one of our talented suppliers: Cutture or Ananya.

Calligraphy from Kilkie Sands.

Pre-designed online templates to customise and get delivered to your home in just a couple of days from Papier.

The dinner party styling by Bluebird Creative‘s Director Lauren

There are lots of different ways and themes that you could style your winter themed dinner party. “I’m a big fan of Scandinavian styling in my home and therefore the term ‘hygge‘. I think it is a perfect and very befitting theme for a wintery, cosy dinner party.”

To create that cosy vibe, there are a few different elements that you could bring together.

Firstly consider whether to have table linen. Rustic wooden tables are really on trend at the moment with this choose a delicate table runner or even a naked table as it fits in perfectly with the ‘Scandi’ style. If you do want to use a runner, Kate Cullen hand dyes her own silk runners and they are truly beautiful. She also makes silk hand dyed napkins, which are perfect for home dining.

For the centerpieces you could use a lot of candles. Candles create a mood and an atmosphere, crucial for any dinner party. Using a combination of tea lights and dinner candles in beautiful holders can create height. Greenery is still a big trend this season, so using a mixture of different foliage’s across the centre of the table, between your candles looks beautiful.

Helen, Cutture adds that at this time of year, almost anything goes when it comes to decoration. There’s no need to be subtle but that doesn’t mean your décor needs to be anything less than classy.

Napkins & Placecards

There are numerous ways you can follow your invitation theme through on the day. If you are having a sit-down meal, your guests will spend much of the evening at the table so that’s a great place to start. Named place cards add a personal touch and mean you don’t have to organise where people sit on the night itself. Adding to Lauren’s comment napkin rings and table runners are a simple way of creating a stand out table display but if you want centre pieces, you could also consider laser cut paper floral displays as a great way of having traditional Christmas flowers without the worry of wilting!

At Cutture, our favourite winter décor piece is a series of hanging paper lanterns, complete with laser cut winter scene on the outside and LED candle to create a warm glow. These are versatile pieces as they can be used as décor throughout the venue and also as table decoration.

Winter look & feel floristry by Caroline Ball, Hybrid Flowers

The collection of flowers and foliage at this time of year is surprisingly wonderful! The best elements as winter draws in are amaryllis, berries, willow as well as mosses. You can mix shop bought blooms such as red ranunculus and pretty spray roses with a mix of bare branches and conifer fronds from the garden.

For table styling use the above flowers in little bud vases or crystal tumblers. Lay out candles and fill the gaps by laying branches in between.

Top tip: buy good quality candles as they will last a very long time. Why not try junk shops for mixed cut glass glasses to use as vases.

 “Preparation is key” by Blue Strawberry‘s Senior Event Manager Georgina Shryane

“Preparation for my own dinner party compared to organising a client’s event is very different! But transferable essentials would be…”

Always ensure before the party to get your drinks on ice, and plenty, so you don’t run out. Be creative, why not try a Winter Berry Mojito for pre drinks? I always like to end the night with Espresso Martinis

Alongside making sure your drinks are flowing, make sure you’ve got the right team by your side. This is the same as the right staff on an event, it could be your mum or best friend!

Finally, use candles – as everybody has commented already – lots of candles. They’re a beautiful way to add warmth, light and atmosphere. Always include a great playlist or entertainment on arrival to set the mood.

Your menu choices…

“My ideal home dinner party evening would be to have the head chef from Blue Strawberry and Table Talk come and cook in my kitchen! Purely so I could sit and enjoy my favourite dishes from our Autumn/Winter menu in the comfort of my own home. Warming winter comfort food but with a fine dining twist…”

My sample menu below for mouth-watering inspiration:

Canapés

Tuna Tartare, Jalapeno and Truffle Emulsion as well as Caviar and Lime

Starter

Cured Venison, Foie Gras and Hazelnut Ganache, Pickled berries and Beets – yum!

Main

Breast of Guinea Fowl, Sweetcorn textures, Fowl Bon Bon, Smoked Paprika and Sprout Tops

Dessert

Pear Tarte fine with Honey Roasted Figs, Crème Fraiche and Almonds

The dinner party playlist

We asked our Curated Suppliers their opinion on the ‘ultimate winter party playlist’…

Bluebird Creative, Spotify playlist – listen here.

Hybrid Flowers, “anything that my dream guests would play” (see below).

Blue Strawberry and Table Talk, the Love Actually soundtrack never fails and is a great pick for a Christmassy feel!

Just for fun

We asked our Curated Suppliers who their ‘dream winter party guest list would be’…

Bluebird Creative, Richard Branson, Adele, Bear Grylls and Fearne Cotton – the conversation would be amazing!

Hybrid Flowers, Gregory Porter, Nat King Cole, Jools Holland and Ray Charles and just sit back and listen to them talk.

Blue Strawberry and Table Talk, Mario Testino, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe as well as my mum, I couldn’t let her miss out on this dinner party!

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