Lorraine Pascale shares her top preparation tips and favourite recipes for throwing a successful dinner party
Photograph: Con Poulos
"Keep your menu simple. Don't make complicated dishes that have to be done at the last minute.
"Have lots of candles everywhere and make the whole place look beautiful.
"Have a lovely playlist on in the background. Something peaceful and relaxing to make your guests feel at ease.
"Get people to bring a pudding or a starter."
What to cook
Canapés: "Puff pastry cheese sticks are a really easy starter. Roll ready-made puff pastry into a big rectangle then sprinkle some cheese such as parmesan over the top with a bit of black pepper. Slice them into sticks with a sharp knife and pop them in the oven."
Starter: "Make mini filo pastry quiches. Prep them all in advance and keep them in a container in the fridge, then, when your guests arrive, throw them in the oven. My favourite filling is bacon or pancetta, thyme and mushrooms."
Main course: "I'd make something simple and easy that I can put in the centre of the table for people to share – a big risotto, a rack of lamb, or spatchcock chicken."
• This piece first appeared in Sainsbury's magazine.