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How to host a virtual dinner party

Staying in is officially the new going out!

How to host a virtual dinner party
One thing we’ve been missing during lockdown is getting together for a delicious meal with friends and family. But as with most things these days, we've been moving our get-togethers online instead! Having a virtual dinner party is a great way of staying in touch with loved ones whilst enjoying delicious food. Here, Hayley Baddiley, from classic British homeware and ceramics brand Denby, shares her top tips for hosting a dinner party online.

Staying in is officially the new going out. While that might mean we can no longer enjoy face-to-face dinner parties with our nearest and dearest, it doesn’t mean we have to stop hosting altogether. With a little help from modern technology, and a bit of careful planning, it's still possible to sit and eat a meal with your family and friends — virtually, that is.

Although throwing a dinner party on Zoom or Skype might seem a bit strange at first, it’s a great way to spend some quality time with family and friends from afar. And, while it takes a bit of organisation, there are plenty of positives to going online. You won't need to worry about seating plans, and you won't have as many dishes to do afterwards, either. Plus, it's a great opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and try out a recipe you wouldn't normally eat alone. Here are my top tips for throwing an online dinner party.

Send invites to give your dinner party a sense of occasion

If you want to make your dinner party feel like a special occasion, send out personalised invites to your family and friends. Receiving a beautiful paper invite is sure to brighten their day and will bring a thoughtful and personal touch to your dinner party preparations.

If you would like your dinner party to have a theme, or if you'll be dressing up for the occasion, be sure to include details about this in your invites. You could even match the design and style of your invites to the theme of your party.

Send a menu out to your guests

By preparing and cooking the same meal, you can all enjoy some shared food during your online get together. "Sharing" a meal in this way will help to make it feel like a real gathering, and it will be a great conversation starter. And, if you've been looking for more inspiration with your cookery over the past few weeks of lockdown, it can help you to experiment and try something new.

Pick a recipe that everyone will enjoy, and which you think is achievable for everyone in the group, whether that's a simple veggie tart, a pasta dish, or a summer salad. You may want to run it by your guests, just to check it's going to be suitable for them. Then, when everyone's in agreement, send out the recipe so you can all make the same meal on the night.

Focus on presentation

Setting a beautiful table will mark the occasion and will also provide you with an inviting space to enjoy your virtual party. Arrange your tableware, cutlery and glasses and make sure you have everything you need within reaching distance so you can catch-up with your virtual guests, and don’t have to worry about collecting anything from the kitchen. Adding small details such as flowers in a vase and candles can also help to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Take the time to present your food with style and flair. You could even challenge your guests to a competition, with a prize for the guest with the most beautiful table setting and food presentation!

Find a way to eat together

Finally, you'll need to find an app which will let you all chat together. There are plenty of ways you could do this, including Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, or FaceTime. If you do use a program like Zoom, just be careful not to share the link to your chat on any public social media pages — you want it to be a private dinner party, after all! Make sure to find a spot on the table for your phone, tablet, or laptop, so you and your guests can clearly see each other. It may help to test out your set up before you start, to save you fiddling about with the camera when dinner is served!

Organise a virtual dinner party and enjoy time with your family and friends over good food. Be inspired by these tips and get planning your next virtual gathering!