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How To Host The Dinner Party Of The Year

10th Dec 2021

For those who love a dinner party, who love to host, plan, and prepare and put together an unforgettable evening for friends or family, now is your time. You do not need an occasion to get together, to celebrate and to create memories. You just need the inspiration.

We think it is the perfect combination of great company and impeccable food, entertainment and attention to detail that makes any occasion extra special. But it’s that ‘WOW’ moment that makes it unforgettable.

Hosting your dinner party in the New Forest at The Montagu Arms will undoubtably give your evening that edge because you have the support and help of an experienced events team behind you, and outstanding service for you and your guests on the night, which even the most organised host would find hard to match. Finding a private dining venue allows you, after all the planning and preparation, to simply relax and enjoy the party with your guests.

But first, a to do list…


The Guest List

Any dinner party starts with the guest list.

Consider the size of your party; smaller groups tend to work better when there is familiarity, unless you are confident that they will click. For slightly larger groups you can get away with a broader mix of people. In fact, sometimes the best dinner parties come from the most eclectic guest list.

When it comes to the invites, are you going to send an email, text, or take a more traditional (much more exciting) approach and choose printed or handwritten invitations delivered by post. An invite also lends itself as an opportunity to communicate details of the event such as dress code, theme, or general schedule, i.e., ‘Dinner and games’ so your guests know what to expect.

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The Entertainment

The entertainment should be guided by the guest list. The perfect host will anticipate their guests’ enjoyment.

Keep things simple with personalised playlists to allow the wine and discussion to flow for a relaxed fine dining experience. Or choose after dinner games or a quiz to liven things up after dessert, which can be a fantastic ice-breaker for guests who don’t know one another. Select traditional card games that most guests will know. Noble Macmillan have beautifully made luxury games sets that would be perfect. From their elegant leather ‘Box of Cards’ to classic games like ‘Racing Demon’ (2 – 8 players) or Perudo  (2 – 6 players).

As host you are also the ‘games master’ so be sure to read up on how to play beforehand to avoid those awkward rule book reading moments at the table.

Perhaps though, your dinner party is all about the game itself, in which case go from New Forest restaurant to luxury casino in an instant with the Noble Macmillan ‘Luxury Poker Set’.

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Create Your Tablescape

Your tablescape is your events’ first impression. It’s a feast for the eyes of excited guests that creates that all important ‘WOW’ moment as they enter the room at your dinner party venue, and it sets the scene and introduces your theme.

Decide on a centrepiece, candles, or candelabra, and if you are going to have place names.

Place names are a wonderful way to mix up the table, separate couples and close friends and get people talking. You’re the host, take control and take what could be an awkward decision away from your guests. When arranging the table plan, thoughtfully consider who they will each get on with and if in doubt, go a step farther and have your guests change places in between courses.

Whether you choose grandeur, vibrance or elegance, let the table do the talking. Mix and match textures, patterns, prints and colours to elevate the decor; bring the outside in with wild and wonderful greenery or opt for a more formal but beautiful floral arrangement. One thing everyone can agree on is that fresh flowers or greenery makes a big impact. Bring the table to life with a touch of nature – but remember you don’t want anything too big to get in the way of the eye-line, making it difficult for your guests to talk across the table.

Our wedding and event florist Jo Hicks can advise and help to create a stunning arrangement for your private dining event.

Nothing says special like a personalised surprise, be it handmade place cards, personal messages or monogrammed napkins with the guests’ initials on for an incredibly special touch and a keepsake.

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The Food

A great dinner party lingers in the memory: the company, the atmosphere, the décor, the food, and the wine. It starts with the reconnection of family and friends, and the meeting and making of new ones but is then beautifully conducted by the menu and a simply beautiful menu will impress your guests and have you all reminiscing for years to come.

Seasonality guides our Head Chef Matthew Whitfield’s menu inspiration, whilst availability of locally sourced produce from our restaurant’s organic kitchen garden, the New Forest and the neighbouring coastal counties of Hampshire and Dorset directs the flavour.

Your dinner party will be a banquet at our New Forest hotel with a seasonal beautifully crafted menu shaped by you and your guests.

Winter has arrived in the New Forest, let the current menu inspire your upcoming private dining event.

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Location, Location, Location

A unique dinner party venue can add that extra touch to any occasion. Pair it will unrivalled service and you have the recipe for an exceptional evening.

At our beautiful country house hotel in Hampshire, we have an undisputed reputation, award winning cuisine and three dining rooms, from the elegantly panelled Oakwood, the classically beautiful and cosy Paris Room, or for larger dinner parties, the richly appointed Terrace Restaurant itself.

We will help you to create the perfect atmosphere, starting with the room, to be the backdrop to the dinner party of the year, whether you wish for space to mingle or room to play.

Let our reputation for excellence grow your reputation for holding the most wonderful dinner parties.

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