Summer’s over, so no more elegant little al fresco dinners on the patio, no more frothy cocktails by the pool. Winter should not see you retreating into your shell socially though. Here are some ideas for great indoor dinner parties and dining events that you could put together to add a little interest to the rather dull winter months:

Italy in Oz

With a bit of imagination and a bit of effort you can turn pizza night into gourmet night. Instead of ordering in the same rubbery old pizza from the place down the street try your hand at creating your own gourmet pizza. Her is a very easy to follow recipe for a pizza that tastes just like (or even better) than fancy, overpriced wood fired pizza from the shop:

1  head of garlic
400 gm can  whole tomatoes, drained
1 qty  pizza dough
2  zucchini, thinly sliced
12  white anchovies
150 gm  smoked mozzarella, coarsely chopped
To serve:  
lemon wedges

Wrap garlic tightly in foil and roast at 200C for 20 minutes or until soft. When cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from their skins.

Using your hands, squeeze the tomatoes to remove seeds and liquid, then place tomatoes in a single layer on absorbent paper to blot excess liquid, then thickly slice.

On a lightly floured work surface roll out a quarter of the dough to a 25cm round. Scatter with a quarter of the tomato, zucchini, garlic, anchovies and mozzarella. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on a preheated pizza stone (you can buy them at home stores) or heavy oven tray at 250C for 10 minutes or until golden. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Season to taste and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Add a nice big bowl of pasta to the table, a few crispy loaves of garlic bread and have guests bring their favorite wine or beer and you should be all set for a gourmet pizza night to remember .

The Sunday Roast Party

In the winter you really cannot go wrong if you cook a nice Sunday roast, lay the table nicely and ask friends and family to begin popping round at 4pm (too much earlier than that and they will probably all be hanging around, a good roast takes time!) Do be a bit cheeky though and ask guests to bring a dessert or a nice bottle of wine with them.

Movie Night

A gourmet movie night is an event that kids will love and the grown ups will still have a great time. When inviting your guests offer a number of movie choices and ask them to vote for their favorite, most votes wins. Then rent the DVD, add a few extra throw pillows and blankets to the “viewing room” and break out the popcorn and soda (and the beer).