Get the party started with these delicious tabletop looks



We’ve spent so much time separated from friends and family over the past few years because of Covid – not so much the closings but all those dinner plans that had to change when friends tested positive.

Now it’s time for the guest to return, say New Zealand house and garden food writer Julie Le Clerc. “More intimate dinners and casual gatherings are back because people really want to get their friends together after spending so much time apart. However, the number of guests will likely be smaller than before as people are more intentional about how they bring people together.

Being home more over the past couple of years has given many people time to try new recipes or dust off those old favorites that provide a sense of familiarity and nostalgia, Julie says.

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“After a time of so much uncertainty, it’s reassuring to find comfort foods and drinks from the past and these can easily be updated for modern tastes by using more natural ingredients, for example.”

She notes that in general food trends, the use of spices and chili peppers of all kinds is gaining popularity. “Expect to see fiery global condiments such as sriracha, nduja, harissa and gochujang popping up in home cooking as more and more people want to experiment with these spicy condiments.”

Appetite for plant-based foods shows no signs of declining. “As many more people take a flexible approach to eating more plants or less meat or have different dietary needs, this is reflected in the way we cook for customers.

“The best way to cover all of these bases is to make a wide variety of vegetable dishes,” says Julie.

Get the look – colorful

Try a dynamic, fun and slightly exotic setting.

Set the table

The sustainability trend in the interior design world is here to stay and is also changing the way we entertain at home, says New Zealand house and garden writer and food stylist Maite Paternain. “Reclaimed wood dining tables, organic fabrics, natural stone or eco-friendly terrazzo accessories, and second-hand tableware are all valid and exciting choices for dressing the table for an eco-friendly dinner. They are also timeless and inexpensive.

While neutrals are always in style, Maite suggests adding bright colors to inspire happiness.

“Personalize the frame. Try to collect plates from different sets. You can also try personalizing an otherwise dull dish with a splash of food-safe ceramic paint. Think spots, scratches or colored rims; It’s easier than you think. The trick is to make sure your table is unique to you,” says Maite.

She also suggests adding touches of nature to the table by scavenging your garden or neighborhood for foliage and flowers, or using seasonal fruits or vegetables to decorate the table.

“A bowl of lemons and a few jars full of herbs spread across the table will do. Just make sure the arrangements don’t obstruct your guests’ line of sight as they talk to each other across the table.

Get the Look – Contemporary

Use black and white as a base, then have fun.

And to drink?

Wine and beer will always have their place at a party, but serving a welcome cocktail at a party can definitely add a more festive air, says New Zealand house and garden beverage columnist Nikki Birrell. “It doesn’t have to be complicated.

In fact, with the mind-boggling range of artisan mixers currently available, a flavored tonic and local gin, served in a balloon glass – or copa de balon in Spanish, the vessel of choice for a G&T in much of Europe – is a visual and tasty treat. Then simply garnish it with garnishes that add color and aromatic notes: slices of orange and sprigs of rosemary; cucumber strips and blackberries; lemon slices and thyme; and lime wedges and raspberries, for example.

For a larger crowd, batch cocktails are best, says Nikki. “Tequila is all the rage right now – try making a super refreshing, picture-pretty paloma in batches by mixing together tequila, agave syrup, lime juice, and lemon juice in advance. pink grapefruit, then pouring it into ice, rimmed glasses with salt and drizzled with sparkling water just before serving, garnished with a slice of grapefruit.

The popularity of negroni shows no signs of slowing down either and this bittersweet gem can be made in quantity too – just add all equal parts of its ingredients to a large glass jar, with the addition of an equal part of water, and refrigerate until ready. to serve. Pour over ice, garnished with an orange slice, says Nikki.

“Speaking of ice, a statement block is an easy way to set the mood for a special occasion; the giant cubes or spheres look spectacular in glass and are also slower to melt. Don’t forget to start icing them. prepare a few days in advance and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer so you have enough ready.

And don’t forget the non-drinkers: “The choice of non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ is booming. Look to brands such as Lyre’s and you can essentially swap straight for killer non-alcoholic cocktails.

Adopt the look – resort

Natural influences dominate in this breezy outdoor setting.

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