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How to host a brilliant fundraising fish-themed dinner party

Hosting a dinner party is a fun way to raise vital funds for our courageous lifesavers. Every penny or cent you and your guests raise will support our lifesaving work, from buying kit for our crew members to providing fuel for our lifeboats.

A group of people sitting around a table eating dinner together

Photo: RNLI

Keen to get involved but not sure where to start? Read on for our top ten tips on how to host a fundraising dinner party to remember.

1. Get organised

Pinning friends, family members, colleagues or fellow volunteers down for a dinner date isn't the easiest of tasks. Rather than sending out copious emails, why not create a Doodle poll? Here your guests can vote on the dates/times that work for them.

Once this has been decided, setting up a dedicated WhatsApp group could be an easy way to share recipe tips, list dietary preferences and build excitement for the event. You can download these lifesaving supper invitations for a more traditional approach. 

2. Choose your menu

If you fancy whipping up a fish-themed dish as a nod to the coastal communities the RNLI serves, our dedicated recipe section is a great place to start. From hearty fish pies to fish curries and more sustainable vegan options such as beer battered Tofish and chips, there really is something for everyone. And you don't need to be a pro in the kitchen to give them a whirl. 

Take a look at our recipe for hake, tomato, chili, and wilted spinach:

3. Think local

Do you live by the coast or have a seafood delicacy that's legendary in your community? Incorporating your local catch of the day is a great way to support local business, celebrate your area's heritage and cut down on your meal's carbon footprint. Local fishmongers are also a hive of information and are normally more than happy to suggest the best ways to cook and serve your fish as well as dealing with the often fiddly task of deboning/filleting your fish on your behalf.

4. Don't forget about accompaniments

While fish or other seafood will be the main attraction at your dinner party, it's important to think about garnishes and drinks too. Scour your local delicatessen for show stopping seasonings, sauces and garnishes such as seaweed salt, preserved lemons and mayonnaises with unique flavour combinations.

Your local wine shop should also be able to offer advice on the best wine and fish pairings. ‘Have a decent no or low alcohol option to hand for drivers or those not drinking,’ adds Chef Elisa Roche. ‘You can't go wrong with non-alcoholic spirits such as Sipsmith Free Glider and tonic. And for a fancy finishing touch to mocktails, pop rose petals and pomegranate seeds into the ice tray.’

5. Setting the scene

Get your home looking dinner party ready by adding a few unique touches to your table decor. Why not kick off a nautical theme by using these placemats available at the RNLI Shop? As well as helping guests feel welcome, our free downloadable place cards also feature informative RNLI facts, giving guests a better understanding of the organisation and acting as conversation ice breakers. 

Serving fish pie on a well-dressed table, with candles and name cards

Photo: RNLI

6. Virtues of going virtual

Hosting a virtual dinner party over Zoom means that you can get friends and family from all corners of the UK, and even the globe, together. Remember to take time differences into account and to carry out test runs with any guests unfamiliar with conferencing technology. 

7. Keep guests entertained

Once plates are clean, and tipples are topped  up, treat your guests to a spot of entertainment in the form of nautical-themed quizzes. Create some background atmosphere with a free sea shanty playlist such as this one on Spotify and create a certificate for the winning team using free design sites such as

8. Enlist a helping hand

It may be your dinner party but that doesn't mean you have to go it alone. ‘Ask someone from your inner circle to be on hand to help with coats, flowers, glasses and more,’ suggests Events Organiser Bridget Convey.

A woman prepares salmon in the kitchen

Photo: RNLI

9. Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise

Our fundraising guide will give you all the tools you need for a successful fundraiser including helpful tips on how to ask for contributions. 

10. Have a plan B 

No matter how carefully you plan your dinner party, there's still a chance that things may go wrong on the night. From fish that's more floppy than flaky to a homemade hollandaise sauce that just keeps on splitting. Keep your kitchen cool by having your local fish and chip shop on speed dial. Once your takeaway arrives, ditch the paper wrapping and serve on your best dinnerware set. Your guests will hardly notice the difference!

Fancy hosting a fundraising dinner party? Register your event today and get started! You can find more helpful resources for your event on our Fish Supper site.