How to craft a stellar New Year's Eve party

FEAST: A simple and understated table setting is best - let the food be the talking point. 
For more dinner party inspiration, visit aegtastemastery.com.au.

FEAST: A simple and understated table setting is best - let the food be the talking point. For more dinner party inspiration, visit aegtastemastery.com.au.

So, you’ve invited your loved ones over this New Year’s Eve, and intend to dazzle them at a knockout dinner party. But where to even start? Luckily, AEG ambassador and chef Mark Best, and former Masterchef contestant Brendan Pang’s have joined forces to serve up the most helpful tips for entertaining at home on December 31. 

Set the dinner party atmosphere. The atmosphere is what makes it a dinner party, so don’t worry too much about decorating the entire house. What’s important is where everyone congregates, and even this shouldn’t be too stressful. “You don’t need to be over-the-top when setting the table, but it should look nice,” says Brendan. 

“Good music, lighting and some simple floral arrangements can show you care about the hospitality of your guests,” adds Mark. “Quality wood scented candles can set the atmosphere from the moment your guest enters and put them at ease. Add some ambiance by setting up fairy lights if you’re dining outside, and don't forget the mozzie coils.”

PLAN AHEAD: Find out your guests' likes, dislikes and any allergies ahead of time, so there are no surprises. Photo: Anna Kucera

PLAN AHEAD: Find out your guests' likes, dislikes and any allergies ahead of time, so there are no surprises. Photo: Anna Kucera

Keep things simple and cook what you know. “I have a strong belief that even if you are on the adventurous side, it can be risky trying new recipes for the first time a dinner party,” says Brendan. “Simple, delicious, relaxed food is always the most successful,” agrees Mark. 

The pair also suggest filling a beautiful old ice bucket with boutique beers – not only do they dress the table, it means nobody has go to the fridge once they’re empty.

BASIC IS BEST: Simple meals made from recipes you know and love will be the tastiest food you can put on the table.

BASIC IS BEST: Simple meals made from recipes you know and love will be the tastiest food you can put on the table.

Be entertaining and not cooking. “Be ready for your guests with drinks on arrival, and be the social grease if your guests have not met before,” says Mark. “Choose dishes that can be prepared well ahead of time,” says Brendan, suggesting food that can be warmed in the oven, or a salad you can dress immediately before serving. “Make sure you are with your guests when they arrive, and at that point, the only thing you should have left to do with food is plate.”