There are a many “styles” of entertaining. Some are formal, and some are casual. My sister-in-law Sarah gives the best
dinner parties. Her style is relaxed, the food is phenomenal, the décor avant
garde yet comfortable. Sometimes dinner is a big pot of soup, rustic bread and
a great salad. Other times it’s a crab feed. The wine and music are
sophisticated yet the overall effect is relaxed. And so is she.
sister-in-law Sharon does great gatherings with husband Donald and they give
guests personalized attention. Sharon often does grilled dinners with a
delicious salad and guests dine outdoors in her garden. She does fresh flowers too
and always there are candles and great music and wine. Both women are fantastic
cooks and their focus is first and foremost on guests and their enjoyment.
above via DIGAISM
My entertaining style is casual with buffet
menus and lots of ingredients. I do a variety of fresh vegetables, special
salad combinations, a homemade dessert and usually roasted or grilled chicken
or salmon. I don’t like being stressed
on the day of the party so I do menus that are familiar. I never do anything
that requires elaborate, last minute preparations. Nothing ruins a party
quicker than a harried host. Obviously, you can do smaller parties without much
planning but here are my easy guidelines for an intimate Saturday evening
dinner for six to eight guests.
above via SKINNY MOM
Monday- menu, table settings, and flower
Tuesday- table linens washed and ironed. Place
in a convenient place till the day before the party.
Wednesday- shopping for groceries, flowers
Thursday- have the house cleaned and do the “do-ahead”
food prep. Pull out the necessary serving pieces and put them in a convenient
place till the day before the party.
On Friday- do any baking or dessert that
needs to be done, flower arrangements, choose music, more food prep, chill the
wine, and do the table settings.
That leaves Saturday morning for the
remaining food, a little time to get dressed, clean the kitchen one last time, and
make the final preparations for your guests’ arrival.
above JEFFREY WEISMAN via ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST
Because I don’t have a lot of counter space
in my kitchen, I usually set up a buffet on the dining room table and let
guests serve themselves. For large, formal occasions like Christmas and
Thanksgiving, I serve my guests while seated at the table. There is a swinging
door separating our dining room from the kitchen. This means I can
close off the kitchen when it’s time to sit down to dinner.
above via ARTSYMPHONY BLOG
I like to get into a festive mood a couple of
hours before guests arrive by turning on the music and pouring a glass of iced
tea. Right before they arrive I assign the husband the jobs of lighting the candles, opening and
placing the wine on ice, and pouring us a glass. If the weather is good, I like all the
windows opened so we can catch the evening breezes and hear the fountains from
above RALPH LAUREN via BELGIAN PEARLS BLOG
Once the noshing begins, take this bit of
advice: make no excuses for the food. Friends and family are happy to be in
your home enjoying your hospitality, and they really don’t care if the asparagus
is a little undercooked. And don’t remind them. Put your perfectionisms away and
enjoy yourself without explanations. People won’t remember the
chilled salad fork, they’ll remember your relaxed, contented demeanor.
above via SUGAR PLUM INVITATIONS BLOG
For parties of more than eight guests, encourage
them to move around by doing a table for wine, glasses and chilled water in one
room and a table of hors d’oeuvres in another. Shrimp is a great way to get
people to circulate too.
Keep last minute plans to a minimum to avoid
stressful situations when guests start to arrive. Do menus that can be mostly
done in advance.
If you entertain outdoors, remember to
provide things for that area such as a few throws for guests if the night turns
cool; a jug of flowers for the picnic table; and lanterns for candles so the
wind won’t blow them out.
I like to use white, unscented candles for
entertaining but have been known to cheat and mix in battery operated ones too.
They’re especially nice for hard to reach places or if children are present.
Grab a guest to assist you and personally
serve the dessert course and coffee as an intimate touch. Let guests pass the
tray with sugar and creamer.
Never use paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic
utensils. Use cloth napkins if possible. I like plain white, ten inch buffet plates
(one of my caterer friends says they’re too big but I love them), vintage
silverware, and simple, clear glass, high quality wine glasses so guests can
appreciate the color of the wine.
below ANGIE SILVI PHOTOGRAPHY
above via STYLE ME PRETTY
above via HABITUALLY CHIC
above via GREIGE DESIGN BLOG
above via THE FRESH EXCHANGE
above via STYLE ME PRETTY
via FRESH FARM HOUSE