Jim and I love to ENTERTAIN. I love the prep----getting the house ready, table settings and flowers, and, of course, planning a wonderful menu. He loves to welcome the guests and make sure that everyone is having fun. He takes care of each guest after the party starts and is truly a wonderful host. This allows me to have fun at my own party and enjoy the evening.
There are two basic things that make a great party or event----the mix of PEOPLE and the FOOD. If either doesn’t work, the party is over.
To start the party off, I love to have a SPECIALTY DRINK passed on wonderful trays---of course, other drinks, wine and water should also be served. Drink orders are a must as well.
HORS D’OEUVRES passed on trays to go with drinks should be tasty, but not too filling---make sure they are bite size---nothing worse than trying to stand and eat a large piece of food.
A beautiful TABLE always makes food taste better---wonderful linens, china and crystal are incredibly important.
FLOWERS----those that are appropriate to the season are by far the best, and, certainly should not be overdone! Guests should always be able to see the person across the table from them. One of my favorite things is to have sparkling glass pieces on the table with low flowers surrounding.
CANDLES make everyone look great and add a touch of glamour---just be sure they are ivory or white (no colored candles), and, do not have a scent because certain scents can completely change the way food tastes.
Eye level LIGHTING in a dining room is uber important! That is why, in addition to candles and chandeliers, I always have lamps on a buffet or server. We all look better with light on our faces. Never have overhead lighting that shines on anything but the table---certainly not on your guests’ heads.
Always taste/test the food you are serving. PRESENTATION of food is important---servings that are too large are a turn off.
As mentioned earlier, the MIX OF PEOPLE is the most important ingredient to having fun…..I have been to parties where the conversation was so interesting and lively----the food was simple but delicious, nothing extraordinary, but a great party because of the mix.
Placing people who have wildly different political views together is never a good idea. I also like to place people at the table so that they have something to view in the room that would be appealing to them. People with big personalities are best in the center of the table (if it is rectangular or oval). They can help carry the conversation from that place. This is why PLACE CARDS are necessary.
Check to see if any of your guests are vegetarian---this is a consideration in today’s world. I always have an option available if this should come up unexpectedly.
Background MUSIC sets the mood for a party---I like to start the evening off with livelier music, then as the evening progresses, slower paced, more relaxing music (unless you want people to dance). Just be sure music is never too loud during dinner. Conversation is the most important consideration. Here are a few of my favorite albums. I make my own playlists for dinner parties---copies make great party favors.
The ATTITUDE of the host and/or hostess---if they are relaxed and having a good time, everyone else at the party will do the same.
Just remember---people love to have dinner at their friends’ houses. These evenings are much warmer and more personal than dinner at a restaurant. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Simply plan well and then ENJOY!!