Planning a summer dinner party this year? Here are a few of our favourite ideas to give you some inspiration - whether you fancy a casual get-together with friends in the sunshine, or a more formal dinner party with all the best gourmet seasonal produce.
The Garden Party Summer Dinner Party
Make the most of the British summer and take your summer dinner party outside to enjoy the sunshine (you may need to plan carefully to make sure you don't choose a rainy day!). Set up a big table in the garden so everyone can gather round for a communal feast - don't forget to decorate with bunting, bunches of wild flowers, fairy lights and plenty of candles.
Summer garden dinner parties lend themselves well to sharing dishes, feasting platters and family-style menus. Set up a separate table for the food so your dinner party guests can help themselves to whatever they fancy, or put out sharing boards laden with delicious summer favourites in the middle of the dining table.
Fresh salads are ideal for a garden party or a summer dinner party. Go classic with a caprese salad, or opt for something different such as a roasted sweet potato, grilled halloumi, rocket and pomegranate salad, accompanied by snacking dishes like homous, tabbouleh and flatbreads. Sharing boards with cured meats, olives, figs, cheeses and artisan breads also work really well. In terms of more substantial summer dinner party dishes, go for things like light, tomato-based pasta dishes, Mediterranean grilled chicken and vegetables or spicy lamb tagine.
Don't forget the drinks too! At a summer dinner party, especially if it's a garden party, you have to have some Pimm's. Perfect as a welcome drink, serve it with lemonade, chopped strawberries, cucumber, orange slices and fresh mint leaves.
The Casual BBQ Summer Dinner Party
If formal dinner parties aren't your thing, a BBQ is ideal for a casual summer dinner party. Lay out plenty of picnic blankets and cushions in the garden so your guests can relax in the sunshine and graze on the delicious BBQ favourites throughout the party.
Include all the classics like burgers, sausages and steaks, as well as more inventive dishes. Try a whole trout stuffed with lemon slices and parsley, some spicy chicken satay skewers, or Chinese-style char siu pork loin.
Make sure you have a "build your own" station, with lots of condiments, chutneys, sauces, bread, rolls, salad leaves and accompaniments so guests can create their perfect plate. Include some sides and veggie options too, like BBQ roasted potatoes, grilled corn on the cob, peppers and shallots and garlic butter portobello mushrooms. Finish it off with some local craft beers or a few glasses of rose wine and you'll have the perfect BBQ summer dinner party.
The Gourmet Seasonal Summer Dinner Party
If you want to throw a more formal dinner party for a special occasion, give it a summer twist by using seasonal summer produce to create your menu. Set the scene with some bunches of summer flowers and plenty of greenery on a beautifully decorated table. Opt for simple but elegant place settings, with touches of gold to give it a luxury look.
Check what's in season around the time of your summer dinner party and build your menu around that. Visit your local butcher, grocer or farmers' market to stock up on lots of delicious seasonal produce from your area. In the summer, lots of British fruits and vegetables are in season, including asparagus, courgette, nectarines, strawberries, peas and raspberries.
Try something like grilled asparagus and parma ham with a poached duck egg for the starter, followed by slow-roasted lamb shoulder with seasonal vegetables for a main, and raspberry panna cotta with fresh summer berries for dessert. Accompany everything with a glass of fizz on arrival and some great wine to compliment each course.
If you fancy throwing a dinner party this summer but aren't sure where to start, we can help! Check out our Dinner Party Catering page for more information about our services in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire and South London.