Over the years, I’ve come to find that time spent with friends and family is precious. Some of my fondest memories are of times spent laughing around the dinner table or out on the deck with a special cocktail in hand. I like to think that hosting your friends and family is a gift. It’s a gift to your people, your tribe, your village. A gift of yourself and a way to make them know how special they are to you.
I like to start the evening out with a proper cocktail. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wine, beer or sodas, I like to perpetuate the romance of times gone by, when “the hour” was done in high style. I collect vintage barware and love offering a specialty drink served in my lovely glasses. Having a drink in a beautiful lowball or sexy champagne flute is very much enhanced by the vessel in which it’s served. Look for names like Culver, Libby, Bacarrat or Briard when hunting for your favorites to add to your bar.
There’s nothing worse than planning and executing what you hope will be a beautiful evening only to have guests overserved during the pregame to the actual dinner. I suggest offering light, individual bites. Appetizers should compliment your main course but it’s okay to veer off the path a little and offer something that will surprise and satisfy your guests. You really can’t go wrong with a goat cheese crostini and almost anything made with a puff pastry. If you’re budget allows, hire someone for the evening to pass hors d’oeuvres and ensure everyone has a fresh cocktail. If not, go with a buffet! Keep it simple but limited.
Here is where the magic happens! I like to have my meals mostly prepared before the party starts but that’s not always possible. Each and every party seems to develop its own personality. There are no hard and fast rules for me and more likely than not, something will inevitably go awry. Keeping calm and relaxed is essential. I like to have place cards for each setting. They’re fun to make and can often be a takeaway for your guests. If you’re able to collect photos (from say Facebook) then framing a small photo of them is a wonderful way to surprise them. Another idea would be to print their monogram on card stock and frame that as a special gift.
Get creative! And of course, go ALL out on the table scape. Let your imagination run wild. Themes from some of my best parties have been Travel, Arabian Nights, and Winter Wonderland. Tip: a great source for greenery for your table: Amazon.com or Costco.com
More than anything, enjoy yourself and the wonderful people you have in your life!!