“I like white table­cloths, good sil­ver, and I never go tut­tifrutti with plates and glasses”

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of al­co­hol cuts down on the amount you need,” ad­vises Teece. “This also means less cost on hir­ing glass­ware.”

Per­haps that’s why punch is hav­ing a re­vival. “Aside from its kitschy, retro ap­peal, punch is an easy way to serve a lot of peo­ple with very lit­tle ef­fort,” says Mike Ben­nie, de­li­cious. drinks edi­tor. Dan Knight, for­mer owner of Hinky Dinks cock­tail bar, has a neat trick to en­sure that his punch re­mains fresh. “Make gi­ant ice blocks in old take­away con­tain­ers us­ing juice that is in the punch,” he says. “That way you keep your punch cool and when the ice starts to melt there’s no di­lu­tion.”

The sim­plest way to mas­ter an el­e­gant ta­ble set­ting is to keep things uni­form. “I like white table­cloths, good sil­ver, and I never go tutti-frutti with plates and glass­ware,” says Col­lette Din­ni­gan, an in­vet­er­ate en­ter­tainer. “Hav­ing a ta­ble that’s nar­rower is bet­ter, too, be­cause you can talk across it,” she con­tin­ues. Pass­ing food around a long ta­ble can be chal­leng­ing, es­pe­cially when it's laced with bougainvil­lea. “So it’s bet­ter to plate the meat, chicken, or fish, and serve that, and then have sal­ads on the ta­ble.”

Loose, free-form flow­ers are trend­ing. The work of Syd­ney florist Myra Perez, whose rus­tic blooms at My Vi­o­let are beloved by Mi­randa Kerr, fash­ion de­sign­ers and mag­a­zine edi­tors, is em­blem­atic. “Rather than be­ing stiff and over­done, peo­ple now love things that look sur­pris­ing and in­ter­est­ing,” she says. Perez has lately been in­cor­po­rat­ing un­ex­pected el­e­ments such as “wis­te­ria, trail­ing vines, clumps of grapes and sea­sonal fruits” in her dis­plays.

This bo­hemian ap­proach dove­tails with the best events she’s at­tended re­cently. “Shared plates scat­tered down the mid­dle of long ta­bles, re­laxed and in­for­mal,” she says. “Large graz­ing ta­bles with char­cu­terie and cheeses and breads for days that peo­ple are wel­come to just mill around.”

There will al­ways be those with a taste for spec­ta­cle, and the ex­pec­ta­tions for pro­fes­sional cater­ers is even higher. “A grow­ing trend is for cus­tomised din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in a client’s home that ri­val an ac­claimed restau­rant,” says Emma Mus­grove, di­rec­tor of Mel­bourne-based Fred & Ginger Cater­ing and Event Man­age­ment.

The in­ven­tive caterer has served pho in test tubes, whipped up Nutella and peanut but­ter balls with gold leaf, and created an “ed­i­ble gar­den” of fruits and veg­eta­bles

Ob­vi­ously, these are elab­o­rate no­tions best left to the pro­fes­sion­als. In terms of at-home en­ter­tain­ing, ar­ti­sanal in­gre­di­ents, whim­si­cal flow­ers and a punch bowl or pitcher of frosé is a recipe any­one could fol­low.

But there’s one as­pect of home en­ter­tain­ing that tran­scends all trends: the guest list. “The peo­ple make the party,” Lanier says. “It’s not about the per­fec­tion of it. It’s the live­li­ness.”

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