Can it be mid-October already? Soon we’ll be enjoying long Summer days and nights and before we know it, we’ll be in the “let’s catch-up before Christmas” season. For some that might mean snagging a table at one of the many hip, local restaurants that make the Inner West such a delicious place to live and play. Other times, that catch-up with friends might mean entertaining at home.
Whilst most of us can think of nothing better than getting together with our mates around a table laden with food and drink, for many hosting a lunch or dinner party is a bit like a visit to the dentist – an event to be dreaded.
Luckily, we caught up with local home styling guru Sharon Little of Jacob Little in Dulwich Hill who shared her secrets for hosting an event that’s as fun for your guests as it is for you. Before her stint helming one of the Inner West’s most charming and eclectic home emporiums, Sharon owned and operated the famed lifestyle and trattoria store Tavola in Notting Hill, London, for 15 years. Now back in Sydney, she’s curating beautiful homewares and gifts, with her Dulwich Hill store stocking gorgeous bowls and tableware from Spain, Portugal and Japan, as well as supporting exceptionally talented Australian potters, wood carvers and artists.
Sharon describes gathering her friends and family around her table as her ‘happy place’. According to Sharon, with a bit of planning it’s easy to create a fabulous and stress-free entertaining experience, especially if you follow her dinner party planning secrets.
When deciding on your menu, always cook something that you’ve prepared before. Trying out new recipes for an event with guests will only add stress! Keep it simple and do as much as you can beforehand. With an array of specialty food stores, you can buy all your dinner party ingredients in Dulwich Hill. For example, the family-owned Dulwich Hill Gourmet Meats – a much-loved village institution since 1984 – is specialty nose-to-tail butcher where you can source everything from caramelised onion and pork sausages to whole spatchcocks and legs of goat.
⭐ Make things even easier food-wise by ‘outsourcing’ at least one course
Sharon rarely makes dessert as she confesses that a tart from an Inner West baker like Baked By Kieran, Strawberry Fields Patisserie, or Honey and Walnut Patisserie, all in Dulwich Hill Village, is better than anything she could prepare herself.
For those times when you want to focus more on the experience and less on the cooking – and don’t we all have those days – there is the Dulwich Hill Chicken Shop. Opened in 1987 and now being run by the second generation, you can pop their charcoal chicken on a beautiful platter for your guests to enjoy.
Having serving dishes, utensils and any other items you’ll need for food serving will mean they’re ready and within easy reach when it’s time to call your guests to the table. Often these large plates, platters and special serving bowls are hidden away on a top shelf, so take the time to assemble these items. You won’t feel rushed on the day and can take the time to coordinate your table look.
There’s a saying that the eyes eat first so unsurprisingly a lovely table setting adds as much to the enjoyment of a meal as the food itself. Taking the time to lay the table and presenting the meal beautifully will add to the experience for your guests – so feel free to go all out.
Use a gorgeous linen tablecloth and coordinating fabric napkins to give your dinner party a sense of occasion and festivity. Need a hand? Get your kids in on the action – you’ll be teaching them how to set the table and they’ll also feel proud of their work and help to keep the table tidy and mess-free during the party. And as a responsible host, don’t forget to have water glasses and jugs on the table. To add a splash of colour, why not use tinted glasses which can add a bit of fun.
Remember – entertaining isn’t a competitive sport! Relax and enjoy yourself, be as present as you can when your guests arrive. Tempting as it is to slave over getting a dish right or making sure your table setting is perfect, your guests will forgive any hiccups, if they even notice them!
You can chat to Sharon and plenty of other specialty retailers, dedicated service providers and talented artisans when you visit Dulwich Hill Village. With plenty of parking and easy access by bus and light rail, Dulwich Hill Village is Sydney’s best kept secret and your one-stop shopping destination for hosting a memorable dinner party.
Thinking of hosting a kids party? Check out our article on Kids Party Planning Secrets courtesy of Dulwich Hill Village here.