Chillaxed Dinner Party

Last weekend, Mr SnS and I hosted a chill-axed dinner party for 6 (just grown ups – yippee!) at our place. It was a night of telling stories and belly laughs.

It’s been a while since we have hosted friends for dinner as we tend to hibernate a bit during winter as we have a busy birthday season. We tried a kind of ‘pot luck’ dinner of sorts where everyone brings part of the meal to share to keep it low key and relaxed on the preparation front as well.

With the food taken care of, I was looking forward to creating a nice table setting. It was lovely to source a few nice new bits and pieces and to dust off some old favourites.


I was thrilled to find these lovely paper placements at Provincial Home Living, as I knew they would compliment my turquoise dinner set and blue and green serving ware. I also loved the sentiment and vintage styling.

Mr SnS thoughtfully (and thankfully) took the kids to do a circuit of the local parks so I could set the table in peace. I cranked up the tunes and enjoyed mixing and matching some old favourites and new purchases.

Bird on a plate

I used my new IKEA dinner and side plates and some Marimekko serviettes I picked up recently in Bright. I also used my much loved bird place name holders and some vintage luggage gift tags, both of which were birthday gifts from dear friends a few years back.

I dusted off some small amber vases I bought at last year’s Melbourne International Garden and Flower Show, put in some natives I picked up at the florist and placed them on a Country Road cheese board.


Out came my blue table runner (from Freedom, last summer) and a couple of cross trivets from Country Road. The final touch was a touch of luxe – a beautiful scented Coach candle which was a gift from my friend Rose who brought it home all the way from New York.


I was also happy to be able to have an opportunity to use the delicious butter and butter dish I picked up recently at the Myrtleford Butter Factory which I wrote about here.

photo 3-13

I got out all my favourite blue, green and white serving ware, already to go for some nibbles.


Once I had set the table, it was time to do a little food preparation. Along with the slow cooked lamb, I prepared some beetroots and dutch carrots to roast with thyme.


By the time the kids got home, had an early dinner and got into their pjs, we were good to go!


Just before our guests arrived, I put out some olive sourdough rolls on my lovely Mozi bird plate.


Then Mr 2 cottoned on to the fact that they were crackers on offer, and in went the little hands and of course crumbs all over the freshly swept floor! No matter, we re-stocked and re-set and with an extra snack, he was happy to head to bed.

Hand & crackers

The Menu

Baked feta with turkish bread

Vegetables crudites with garlic, dill and yoghurt dip

Cracked green olives & my favourite beetroot chips


Donna Hay’s slow cooked lamb with garlic and rosemary 

Suzi’s roast chicken

Roasted beetroot & carrots with thyme

Suzi’s Hellenic Republic’s Cypriot grain salad


Liza’s Luscious lemon cheesecake

Dessert platter of strawberries, salted honeycomb, halva and redskins (yes, old school 198os red redskins)

Tunes wise, we were loving Lorde, George Michael, Pink, Fleetwood Mac and always, always a good dose of the 80s.

Do you like entertaining? Setting a table? What is on your menu and soundtrack?

  • Emily @ The Beetle Shack

    I adore setting the table, LOVE it!! we typically entertain with tapas or banquet style indian/moroccan. Oh im hungry!

    • Vanessa

      Oh that sounds delicious and fun Emily. I would love to see one of your table settings too!

  • Sonia

    I love a good dinner party – especially when everyone chips in. It makes more fun and less work! I adore the idea of changing up the look of the table with paper placemats and mixing and matching what you already have. Also love the tunes that were playing. I’d have a lot of fun at one of your dinner parties, I think Vanessa!

    • Vanessa

      Thanks Sonia, there are some great, fun and easy ways to mix things up and some fab stuff currently in store. Glad you are loving the tunes, I added Lorde at your suggestion and also having seen her on TV last week!

  • SlapdashMama

    We never do grownups entertaining! It seems like a thing of the past but I have to try harder now. I love that bird plate. Adorbs.

    • Vanessa

      Thanks Slapdashmama. We don’t do it all that often and not like how we used to. I think the key is inviting people you feel comfortable and relaxed with (so you don’t freak out if the house isn’t perfect or the food fails), divvy up the food prep and have a night off from the kids. Unfortunately that bird plate appears to be sold out on the Mozi site but there is a cute quail one in the same range:—quail

  • Nikki | Styling You

    Oh I love all of this – the menu and the table setting! We’re currently planning our farewell dinner party for 20 but I’ve called in the caterers so I can really enjoy myself.

    • Vanessa

      Thank you Nikki! I love planning events and bet you are enjoying it too. I would be also be outsourcing a dinner for 20, that’s heaps of work. I am sure you will have a great night and its good to be able to kick back, relax and enjoy your guests.

  • Lisa K

    OMG – Thanks so much for inspiring me with this post Vanessa. I have a dinner for 6 on Sunday night to talk about lots of recent travels we have done – was planning a relaxed dinner on the deck in warm balmy weather only to find it is going to be 16 degrees MAX! So having a big rethink and needed some inspiration for my table – I totally love those place mats!

    • Vanessa

      Oh I am thrilled Lisa, thank you for stopping by and commenting! The placemats are $16.95 for a pad of 50. If you are looking for menu ideas, the lamb was easy and to die for. Have a great catch up! x

  • Sally Akins

    That all looks fab! I love cooking, but I’m not as good at designing a table setting. You’ve done a lovely job there :-)

    • Vanessa

      Thank you Sally. I love cooking too!

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  • SaraB

    I love cooking and entertaining but am not so good at table setting. Lots of inspirational ideas here – it looks lovely! Was it really as effortless and relaxed as you’ve made it look?!

    • Vanessa

      Thanks SaraB! I definitely made an effort but wanted to keep it low key. With the kids out of the house for a while and the food prep divided up, it was much more manageable. We see a lot of these friends too, so I didn’t feel pressure. They’ve seen me and the house at our worst, so, with a bit of a shooj up, some tunes and food and we were good to go.

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  • Jean |

    I love a beautifully set table (and yours definitely was!). I sometimes set the table the day before then throw a light cloth over all. You’ve inspired me to make it easier on myself and make my next dinner party a “chill-axed” one!

    • Vanessa

      That’s a great idea Jean, thanks for sharing. Any forward preparation certainly helps!

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