Five ways to cheat your way to dinner party success

All this month, people across the UK are hosting retro dining extravaganzas to raise money for Marie Curie. But sometimes, when time is short, you might need to cheat a little - here are some tips that your guests will never discover.

I love to host a great dinner party, one which people will talk about the next day.

I like to wow my guests with good quality food, a spread of wines and spirits and a piece de résistance dessert.

But sometimes when time is short, I have a few little cheats that no dinner guest will ever discover:

1. Plan ahead – dishes like a lasagne, mousaka, curry can be cooked a week in advance and frozen, so on the day you can simply defrost and warm up in the oven, and your home will be filled with delicious aromas.

2. Visit your local deli – they’ll always have speciality French cheese, Italian meats and even readymade home cooked dishes (which you can say you made).

3. Indulge your guests with something delightful and fancy from a patisserie; you don’t need to be star baker.

4. Marinade your meat and fish a week before, place it in the freezer until you’re ready to cook

And finally….if you run out of time, and your dinner party is short notice:

5. Takeaway – everyone loves a takeaway, and it gives you more time to host and put on a great night.

No matter how you plan your Dinner Down Memory Lane, remember it’s a night of great company, food and fundraising for a great cause – good luck!