Time Well Spent… Throwing A Dinner Party
In association with IWC Schaffhausen, Soho House’s Mr Chris Glass knows not only how to have a good time, but how to plan one .
Fastidiousness is not the first thing that comes to mind when considering what makes a great party, but the key to success when you’re entertaining guests is meticulous planning. Well, so says Berlin-based MR PORTER Style Council member Mr Chris Glass in the short film we made with IWC Schaffhausen, above. And who are we to question him? This is a man who literally gets paid to show people a good time.
In 2009, Mr Glass moved to Berlin to take the role of European membership director for Soho House. “We build communities,” he says of his job. “I go into cities and look for creative people who share a common interest and bring them together.” But he didn’t just move for his career. He found Munich, his previous home, too “safe”. Berlin, on the other hand, “is on the edge…it’s a city that’s not finished yet,” he says. “Berlin is great for hosting parties because there are always so many new people in town. It’s a melting pot for all sorts of people, especially creatives.” It is not just his line of work that makes Mr Glass a bit of an expert on the social side of things. You could say that this has been a hobby of his for some time. “I’ve been hosting since I was very small,” he says. “My mother is the ultimate hostess and we had people over on a regular basis. The moments just before the doorbell rang were always the most exciting.”
So, what advice can he give us to ensure a party is a hit? Firstly, he says, everything must be carefully thought out. “I prepare maniacally. At least a week in advance,” says Mr Glass. “One of the most important things for a successful dinner party is that the host is at ease and engaged…There is nothing worse than answering the door with a tea towel over your shoulder.” And although he mentions some of the more obvious routes to success (“it’s important to have more than enough food and booze,” he says), he also suggests some extra flourishes that will impress any guest. “Flowers are one of those finishing touches that sometimes are forgotten,” he says. “They’re the dot on the ‘i’, the cross on the ‘t’.” When it comes to the dinner table – instead of simply covering it with a nice white tablecloth – go the extra mile. Your table, says Mr Glass is more than a flat, practical space. It should be livened up to create “levels and texture”. Presentation is key, he says, because, “people eat with their eyes.”
When it comes to the food, it is easy to assume that only a complicated meal will do; a creation that would have Mr Heston Blumenthal scratching his head. But simplicity is your friend. “I love to do a big salad that I can put in the middle of the table for everyone to share,” says Mr Glass. For something more substantial, he swears by a roast chicken or a lasagna. Anything, he says, that encourages people to pass a plate around and interact.
However, Mr Glass reminds us that hosting a party is not just about those you are entertaining. For example, he particularly enjoys the hour before his guests come, to take time out, take stock, and enjoy a glass of wine. And obviously it is important to enjoy yourself when they finally do arrive. “Being able to spend time with my friends refreshes and re-energises me,” he says. We’ll raise a glass to that.