You’ve honed your cooking skills in lockdown, you’ve tried all those new recipes, you’ve baked ’til you ached, and maybe you’ve even given a naughty nod to your local grocer’s sugar, pineapple and yeast display (whatever could it mean?). But all along, there’s been one thing missing – one key ingredient for a perfect dinner: some guests to treat and show off to.

Now, Come Dine With Me SA is back to inspire you with a brand-new season of high stakes, extravagant competitive dining. The production team are dishing out tips for anyone who wants to play along – it’s virtual dinner party time! Send out your invitations and give everyone time to prepare before you fire up your favourite video apps such as WhatsApp, Google Hangout, Zoom (prepare to rotate hosting duties for each course to beat that time limit) or Houseparty.

The guest list

Come Dine With Me SA features a select guest list of attention-grabbing personalities in each episode. And since we’re in S6 by now, you know what’s on the menu here: it’s one pinch of ambitious novice cook who’s “just going to tweak” a few complicated recipes, one quarter teaspoon of finicky eater with a delicate palate, one heaped cup of self-declared expert with opinions on everything, and one ladle of “wine enthusiast” who is a laidback diner as long as the drink flows like the Dusi in summer… which it can again from Monday, 1 June. Your guests should include bold storytellers, light-hearted listeners and kind-hearted conversation spreaders. And thanks to the power of the internet, your guests can attend as singles for those who live alone, or as party preparation super-teams.

Get ready to sparkle

Lighting and soundRemind your guests to have lighting in place and tested ahead of time to share the best possible viewing experience. You need to be able to see the food when it’s time to show off.

WardrobeYour virtual dinner party is an occasion and an opportunity for you and your guest to go to town playing dress-up, at least from the waist up. Giving everyone a theme could add a little spice and challenge to the evening. The Come Dine With Me team suggests “a mad hatter party or a travel theme inspired by the first city you’ll want to visit once travel bans are lifted”. Dressing well is part of the challenge, and you and your guests can vote on a best-dressed award for the evening.

EntertainmentGive some thought to games that you and your guests can play together online such as the always saucy and surprising Two Truths And A Lie. Each guest tells two truths about themselves and one lie, and the others have to guess which statement was a lie. You can get really sneaky with this one, and in a group of close friends or family, you’ll have to. Or you could try Never Have I Ever: In this drinking game, whoever is playing first must suggest an activity that they want to see whether the others have done. This is done in the form of a statement such as “Never have I ever accidentally clicked on an ex’s photo on social media while snooping to see what they’re up to”. Anyone who has done the thing, must then take a sip of their drink. Those who have never may sit and watch the others smugly.

DanceAs part of your invitation, ask each guest to also queue up a fabulous music playlist and take breaks throughout the evening to crank up the volume, get on your feet and celebrate how amazing you all are with a virtual dance party. This would be a fun time to see how well everyone has dressed their lower halves for the evening. It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce that elephant of surprise.

Delicious dishes

Before the dinner party, you and your guests will need to agree on who will be preparing which course. By the time the video conference reminder bell chimes, each of your guests or guest groups need to be seated around a beautifully laid table with a fully prepared dish to contribute to the dinner party at the ready. Through each course, they’ll need to share their recipe, the story of how they made it and why, and share the true story of what happened in the kitchen while they were preparing it.

For inspiration, previous creations and menus from Come Dine With Me SA contestants are up online at https://www.bbcsouthafrica.com/recipes/. Just select Come Dine With Me SA from the dropdown menus. Challenge each other to towering heights and dish out penalties to anyone serving up shop bought ice cream and fruit salad, or trying to sneak in a Woolies warm-up.

Pick a winner

Since nobody can taste the dishes, your team will need to agree on judging criteria for the dinner in advance. You can give points for appearance, execution, creativity or plating. And the host will need to be in charge of tallying votes and nominating a winner by the end of the evening. You’ll all also need to agree on prizes, which can include post-lockdown party hosting promises. If everyone can agree on a price limit and choose what they want ahead of time, the competition to win what they want should be intense. Charge your glasses, fire up the stove, and get ready to crumble!

Come Dine With Me SA S6 starts on Wednesday, 27 May on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) at 20:00. Rebroadcasts Sundays at 17:00.

Feeling those opinions while you watch? Keep the dinner party conversation flowing using #ComeDineSA on:

Twitter: @BBCSouthAfrica

Instagram: @BBCStudiosza

Facebook: @BBCLifestyleSA

You have a date with Come Dine With Me SA

Sign up for DStv Now and watch Come Dine With Me SA S6 wherever you are both live and on Catch Up. It’s no extra cost for DStv subscribers! With DStv Now, the same channels you watch on your decoder at home are available for you to stream online or using the DStv Now app on your phone.