As the pandemic is winding down, the holiday season is drawing near, and it’s soon going to be time to host guests in your home again. So dust off that decanter you keep hidden out of sight and iron the tablecloths because party season is around the corner. Here are some of our tips for the host with the most.
Setup and preparation
First and foremost, since you’re going to be hosting, people have got to find your house. It’s probably wise to supply people with directions, and maybe invest in a pretty new house number to let them know where to knock. Then, since this is the autumn and winter season, an umbrella stand will come in handy. If you want to host the best dinner parties in town, it’s time to invest in a round dining table. Like magic, they encourage conviviality and keep people talking. Chairs offer a world of opportunity: opt for a classy, matching set of velvet seats, go simple and throw some plaids or cushions onto wooden chairs or just combine different styles, from minimal to rustic. Maybe get some square serve-ware and glasses to offset the round table, or go all out with round placemats, bowls and decor.
Choose a theme
Nothing ties an occasion together like a theme. And while you may think playing it safe is best, it’s good to think outside the box, sometimes. Winter wonderland? Black & white? Themes are easy to pull off, even if you decide on a small nod rather than an all-out change: get a new dining set in a specific style, some characteristic deco, hang frames with evocative photos… anything goes. If you’re really unsure about the general design, keep it simple and choose a statement piece: a neon sign, for example, goes well with white porcelain and is easy, fun and impressive.
Mix & match
A theme is great, but all-matching-everything can be a bit stifling: gone are the days of your granny’s flowery, two-hundred piece bone china sets. Dare to mix it up a bit! Choose glassware in different colours or combine textures like metal bowls and clay serving platters. Have fun with it and set your guests at ease. Don’t do too much of any one thing: if you’re going to have heavy, crystal glasses, choose some more casual, patterned plates, for instance.
Sharing is caring
When it comes to the menu, it’s easier and friendlier to prepare things people can share (here too, a round table comes in handy). So don’t disappear into the kitchen for hours — channel your inner Martha Stewart and prep in advance. This way, you only have to place things in the middle of the dinner table when people get there and enjoy the meal with them. Think tapas platters instead of carving plates, and finger food instead of ladles, forks and knives. The same goes for drinks: a pre-made pitcher of something festive is better than overextending yourself with bespoke cocktails over dinner. And remember: if you’re inviting a lot of people, plastic cups and plates are not only acceptable but recommended. Think of after-dinner options: dessert, or a cheese platter? Just coffee is great, too, but make sure you plan ahead with plenty of coffee cups, saucers, spoons and serving accessories.
Before, during & after
Don’t make the occasion too formal; keep it cosy and comfortable. Set the proper light — neither too bright nor so dark that your guests can’t see — and know that there can (almost) never be too many candles. Just avoid long ones in tall candlesticks at the dinner table, because people won’t be able to see one another. Scented candles can get distracting and unpleasant over dinner. For after-dinner drinks, stock up on cocktail supplies, and set aside an area to be the bar even if you don’t have one — think: a bar cart, barstools and a low shelf. Why not display some of your favourite bottles in a wine rack, or set out a wine cooler? As for seating problems, if you don’t have a huge sectional sofa, maybe consider getting some beanbags — they are inexpensive, easy to throw around, and everyone loves them.
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