So You Want to Have A Downton Abbey Dinner

The popularity of Downton Abbey has sparked a wave of loyal fans who want to capture a bit of that Downton Abbey elegance in their own homes. And what better way to capture that Downton Abbey flair than to host your very own Downton Abbey dinner? It’s not as impossible as it seems! All it takes is some prep work, dedication, and of course, a few episodes of Downton Abbey to refresh your memory. You should consider the following tips that will help ensure that your Downton Abbey dinner is good enough to impress the Duchess.

Consider cutting down the number of courses

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Edwardian dinners could have as many as 10 courses, and sometimes even more. Unless you have a professional cook and an army of friends willing to lend their kitchens, this is very difficult to pull off—not to mention a bit of a stomach buster!

Instead of aiming for every course, try to par it down to 5 courses—or 3 (soup, entrée, dessert) if you want to be a bit more modern. If you’re aiming for 5 courses, your best bet will be to serve, in this order: soup, appetizer, entrée, cheeses/dessert, coffee/tea. You should also serve a small palate cleanser in between the appetizer and entrée, as it was common etiquette to cleanse your palate before the entrée dishes in a meal.

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Edwardian meals are not too difficult to make for anyone with a bit of know-how in the kitchen, and many of them are delicious to the modern palate.

Brush up on your Edwardian etiquette

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You won’t be a social pariah if you break the rules at your dinner, but part of the fun of a Downton Abbey dinner party is acting the part. Before the dinner, you and your guests should brush up on Downton Abbey etiquette to make things even more authentic.

Take the time and effort to set the mood, Downton Abbey-style

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It’s not a Downton Abbey dinner party without the right atmosphere! It would be a waste to cook a delicious multi-course Edwardian meal, only to serve it on a bare dinner table while the TV blasts in the background.

To set the mood, you should:

  • Cover your table with a nice white tablecloth, preferably with decorative lace on the edges.
  • Set up according to formal Edwardian place settings: utensils should be lined up from the outside-in, meaning the first course on the outside and the last on the inside; wine glasses should be presented on the upper right hand side of the setting; butter and any dips or condiments should be placed in serving dishes, not dispensed from bottles or tubs.
  • Consider using candle light and dim bulbs for lighting; light bulbs in the Downton Abbey age were not nearly as bright as they are today, so consider using some dimmed bulbs or even candle light to achieve that look of period lighting. Candles can be a safety hazard, so be sure to display them properly—or forego real candles for fake ones!
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