Basic is not Boring
Invest in a set of white dishes. It is probably the most versatile thing one can have as part of their entertaining “wardrobe”! It’s a blank slate; you can change the look of your table in an instant with different linens, charger plates, or pattern accent plates.
The Art of Mixing High & Low
Don’t be afraid to mix the high and the low….and I’m talking price points here, not centerpiece heights! It’s trendy today to set your table using your fine china, and cloth napkins you found in the dollar section at Target. My theory is, if you are lucky enough to have it….use it!
The “WOW!” Factor
Don’t go over the top with everything when it comes to planning a party, but make sure you always have one ‘wow’ factor. Whether it be one large sunflower head sitting on a white plate, or a simple dinner menu with a spectacular dessert….always have one surprise up your sleeve that has your guests leaving saying “WOW!”
Pick a Theme
Pick a theme, and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be a cheesy theme. It can be a color palette, a concept (such as a Country French dinner party)….but the closer you stick to your main idea, the more cohesive your event will be.
Where do I sit?!
Always use place cards! Not only will it remove some of the confusion when everyone takes their seat, but if your seating plan is well thought out, it also ensures that everyone will enjoy their dinner conversation. Not to mention add another decorative detail to your place setting!
Create a Love Affair with Stationary
A beautiful invitation doesn’t have to be formal or expensive. But it does send a message to your guests that you have put thought into inviting them to a party, and helps to set a tone for the event. An invitation should be sent 2 weeks prior to a casual gathering and up to 4-6 weeks prior to a more formal party.
The Guest List
Put thought into who you invite to a party. Make sure that each guest knows at least one other person besides yourself so they have someone to talk to while you are busy playing hostess. Speaking of playing hostess, do your best to introduce guests to others as soon as they arrive. “Sue, meet my next door neighbor Carol….she’s originally from Denver. Isn’t your daughter going to school in Denver?” You get the point. Give them a common subject to talk about, right off the bat!
The Guest: Age 2 or 40
I have a theory when I want to throw a great party…. treat each guest the same. Throw a party the right way…whether it is a birthday party for 2 year olds, or a dinner party for 40 year olds. “Right” is whatever you make it, whatever your personal standards are for entertaining. If you use place cards for an adult dinner party, try using them at your next kid’s party….I bet it helps to elevate your party to the next level!
Find inspiration everywhere you look. Pull pages out of magazines, flip through your cookbooks, walk thru a florist….visit places that inspire you. Things that inspire me? A perfect floral arrangement, the Barefoot Contessa’s Parties cookbook, a colorful invitation, and the perfect party dress. Sky’s the limit…you just have to know where to look!
The Four Seasons
Use the season as your guide….for everything! Food will be more delicious, centerpieces more beautiful, the atmosphere a touch more perfect.
Small Expense, Big Style
Introduce yourself to your local craft store. Become good friends. Here you will find little, inexpensive items that will add personality to your event. A satin ribbon to tie around your napkins, a wood tag used to identify items on a buffet, or a basket that can become your new favorite serving piece. It’s all in the details!
A prepared hostess is a relaxed hostess. The more relaxed you are, the more fun you will have! Try to get as much prep work done as possible before the party. Keep the cooking time in mind when planning your meal. If you can have 3 out of the 4 dishes ready to go before your guests arrive….that leaves you more time to spend with them!