Entertaining at Home

A dinner party is a gift we give to others.  Good food and Great company culminates in a fabulous evening!  Whether it’s hosting the Super Bowl, celebrating a birthday, entertaining for business, or a casual get-together nothing is more wonderful than experiencing an evening at someone’s home.

Many get nervous on entertaining….RELAX!   Remember, most likely all your guests are friends.  No-one wants you to fail and you WILL NOT!  Surrounded by friends, all wanting a pleasant evening…that’s exactly what will happen.

If this is a business dinner, please add another layer of organization to ensure to you cross “t’s” and dot your social “I’s”.  Remember, you are “THE most organized the family on the planet”! Organized, yet so incredibly warm and affable.

When entertaining, you need a theme.  Setting your table and your home is the opportunity to surround yourself with things that inspire and reflect your point of view. I feel entertaining is a great incentive to get my home in order.  I fill every room with flowers, everything looks “just so”.

MassRE.com Entertaining
Clean White Tablescape ready for entertaining!!

Personally, I like white dinnerware.  White is bright, clean, and presents a meal in a much better light. Less color competition. The meal you’ve prepared for your guests looks presented and more appealing against a crisp white background. White also provides a blank slate to add your personal accents. I layer in more colorful salad/ dessert plates and use these plate colors to reinforce my floral accents. I add color with salad and serving plates layered with tons of flowers. To mix up patterns, you can easily layer your current dinnerware with pieces from flea markets, antique shops or even HomeGoods!

Colorful additoinal serving plates
Colorful Accent Serving pieces

Flowers bring the outside beauty into your home.  There are guidelines to flowers and foliage. Depending on the season, you can potentially cut flowers from your garden. My thumb is not so green, so I usually use a florist, (I recommend Bedford Florist or Winston Flowers) accented with greens from my yard. In winter, I use Holly berries and Pines. In the Spring/Summer I love the way variegated Hosta or Ferns looks in an arrangement.  Keep centerpieces low so it’s easy to talk across the table.  Flowers on a buffet can be a touch higher.  Powder room flowers should looser, scaled to their surroundings and reinforce the color / floral scheme of the evening.

Powder room or bar  floral arrangement
A beautiful springtime arrangement of flowers in a swirled glass vase. The bouquet contains peonies, clematis, and sweet peas. Perfect powder room arrangement

Lifestyle changes have almost made the formal dining room obsolete.   Changing lifestyles have brought new ways of using the space in our homes. In my home, our dining table has turned into a buffet table, from which to serve.  Our get-togethers tend to have too many for a sit-down.

If you set out plates of hors d’ oeuvres on the dining room table remember to remove the chairs for guest access.  Place chairs against the wall for additional seating

I recommend organizing most of the party ahead of time. As guests arrive I’m usually putting finishing touches on dinner.  Having appetizers on the table or a self-serve bar will allow your guests to make themselves at home. Hors d’oeuvres such as olives in colorful bowls, nuts, or a layered cheese plate (cheese needs to be served at room temperature, so early set up is preferred!) are basically effortless.

Some suggestions:

Unless you’re a REALLY good cook, don’t practice on your guests.  Do a test run, tweak as needed. This also gives you an idea on how much a recipe will make and you can adjust accordingly.   I’ve made sides based on a recipe guidance that would feed an army!

Obviously modify any of the above to suit your style, guests, strengths.

Entertain Often, Relax. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!

MY PREACHY MOMENT:

  • Keep the family educated!  Thank goodness, in my teens  my mother constantly drilled me on table manners; Though at the time. I couldn’t see how I could possibly use them.   Layer on step 2: I had to walk with a pile of books on my head across our living room. I personally feel it is critical to teach our kids these skills. (not the book thing)!  In my first “real” job as a department store buyer, my sales reps often took me out to dinner in top NYC restaurants, more often than not 5 Star. As a naïve, yet budding sophisticate from Pittsburgh, I was over my head on the “formality” of the restaurant, BUT I knew the basics.  This is a critical social / employment skill – you NEVER know where your kids will end up.  Take them out to restaurants, get them comfortable with ordering, confidence at the served table!

Keep it up!

 

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