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