My friends and family say I have a knack for entertaining - artful entertaining that is.
The art of entertaining has long been a passion of mine, I get it from my mama. No matter the event or holiday our dining table was always dressed up for the occasion even if it was just for our small party of five, and my dad always pulled out all the stops with his creativity in the kitchen. Lets just say I learned from some of the best and there was no stopping me once I started to build a home of my own.
Whether I am setting the table for two, four or a feast I start with a source of inspiration. That can come from something as simple as the pattern on a dish to the kind of canapé I want to serve. Organization is really the key when hosting and there is nothing I love more than creating a whole plan from the tableware to the menu.
With just a bit of a plan and a little creativity, you too can seamlessly design and execute an exquisite evening.
Here are a few tips and tricks I follow:
A source of inspiration is helpful in designing the evening. How do you want it to feel and flow? Are you going for a more formal approach where you’ll offer canapés and cocktails first in one space and move to a formal dining table for the piece de resistance? Or do you prefer easy and casual where it is family style and your guests can graze. This will dictate how you set your space and table, to what kind of meal you’ll prepare and whether or not that may have a theme. Here I was inspired to create a cozy winter dinner and when I received these beautiful blooms by my guests earlier in the day it help set the stage.
I like to create a work back plan and shopping list for myself so that my timing is impeccable; can you tell I set up events for a living?
Generally I will prepare my dessert from the night before and will even set my table if the time allows. The morning of any other menu items that can sit in the fridge or require maturing are prepared. When my guests arrive I like to have the canapés ready or just about, as well as a few ideas in mind for cocktails offerings. You can prepare squeezing any juices earlier in the day or creating simple syrups if needed. Don’t forget your pitchers of water too! I always have one styled on my table.
Flowers and greenery are a great place to start in dressing your table; fruit can be a beautiful addition as well. Taking inspiration from the floral arrangement I was gifted, I started with a soft cream silk runner and to compliment the peachy yellow tones I set the table with our Blue Linen Placemats and blue hued glassware and plates. I like to pre pick all of my serving platters as well so that the colours and styles work well together. My taste is often eclectic but if I am setting the table in fine bone China I like to ensure my serving ware follows suit.
For larger dinner parties I like to have table seating cards to keep it easy for seating and sometimes even a little personalized favour for my guests to take home- think adult loot bags! Lastly, lighting and music, it really does set the mood. I love taper candles at a dinner table for a touch of romance and soft jazz or chill house tunes to get the night going.
First and foremost, know your crowd!
Always find out if your guests have allergies or any items that are off the table.
I like to always start with a little charcuterie and cheese board with the addition of a hot canapé for variation. On this evening I served thyme gourges filled with warm goat cheese and a roasted red pepper puree, something I enjoyed in Provence and banked as a bon idée!
In keeping with the cozy feel we prepared a hearty Ossobuco. Beautifully slow cooked veal shanks braised with vegetables in red wine, served on creamy polenta with a Treviso style radicchio and endive salad with Gorgonzola and candied hazelnuts. One pot wonders they call them right? There is a reason for that!
There is nothing worse than a host running in circles. Remember we want to maintain a seamlessly executed evening where you too as the host are enjoying your guests. We finished off with my mulled wine spiced pears.
The perfect winter sweet finale!
See more ideas on my Pinterest here.