Tag Archives: Set the table

The Anatomy of a Dinner Party

4 Mar

If you read my last post then you know that my husband and I love to throw dinner parties, now I will tell you how it’s done. When you say the words “dinner party” people automatically think it means it has to be formal but not in my world. I do think that dinner parties should take place in the dining room with a beautifully set table. In my world there are 3 kinds of dinner parties:

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Mexican Fiesta tabletop.

Take Out Dinner Party – This is when you haven’t seen particular friends in a while and want to squeeze some time to see them but time is limited so you order take out.

Casual Dinner Party – A casual meal such as salads, tacos or flatbread pizzas for a fun night with friends.

Formal Dinner Party – This a planned event from beginning to end, complete attention to detail and a gourmet meal.

To start with, chose a theme. Pick a country or a region, a movie or even a song. I’ve done A Night in Greece, Italian Countryside, Mexican Fiesta, A Parisian Valentine and I even threw a Breakfast at Tiffany’s dinner party for my girlfriends. When you start with a theme everything flows from that, which makes things easier and fun.

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Parisian Valentine tabletop.

Once you’ve decided on a theme you can make your list; invitations, music, menu, decor and guest gifts.  From the menu you can create your shopping list. I like to have each recipe in front of me while I make my list so I don’t miss anything; no one wants to run the grocery store last minute when you’ve already began to cook.

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Menu, I don’t always type it but sometimes it’s nice.

Now I know that gifts for the guests are not customary but I like to have a little something for our guests to take home and I use them as place cards.

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Mini Champagne bottles as place card guest gifts.

Invitations of course can be done via an on-line site but I prefer a paper invite sent through good ol’ fashioned snail mail. Who doesn’t like to get something in mail that is not a bill or advertisement? I know I do. Be creative and do something fun by making them yourself or go visit your local card shop for something pre-printed that fits your theme. No matter what you do for the invite your guests will love getting it in the mail.

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Love a good spread!

Music is key. Actually, good music is key. I really like Pandora for music; they have just about any kind of music you could need. We recently got The Dot and play it on that, but before we had her I would use our television widget. Pandora has everything from Paris Cafe to martini music on the Frank Sinatra station. And if you end up having a dance party in the living room you can always change the station to dance music!

Ah yes the menu…the most important part. Chose wisely so that you can enjoy your guests and aren’t stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Hors d’oeuvres and a theme cocktail are a great way to start the evening. Once the cocktail “hour” is over I like to serve either a salad or soup before the main dish and then of course dessert.

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Jalapeno margaritas as the cocktail for our Mexican fiesta!

As much as I love to cook, decorating for a dinner party is always my favorite part. The flowers, candles, props; so much fun to be creative and change up dinner table. I also like to dress the part, for example for my Parisian Valentine dinner party I wore a black jumper with a white blouse, a scarf tied around my neck, a beret and red lipstick.

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Mini loaves of French bread for each guest at our Parisian Valentine party.

The guest gifts, they don’t have to complicated or expensive. One of my favorite things to use are the mini booze bottles with name tags tied to them. A small bag of homemade cookies or brownies, a tiny plant or cactus, a pretty soap, the ideas are endless.

Yes, throwing a dinner party can be a lot of work but it is also lots of fun. Creating memories around the dinner table, eating great food…doesn’t get better than that.

 

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Dinner Parties, A Lost Art

25 Feb

Here in the Northeast it is not patio season and hasn’t been for a while. So what do we do to entertain, we throw a dinner party.  As you’ve heard me say before, my husband and I love to entertain and we love to throw a good dinner party. From what I hear it is not so common anymore. When I tell people they usually say something like “really, how fun, no one does that anymore” but recently when I told the woman at the shop where I was buying a gift for our guests she said “oh wow, now that’s a lost art!” I guess it is. But not in our house.

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What’s better than good friends, good food and lots of laughs? Nothing in my book. The first thing I do when I decide to throw a dinner party is to come up with a theme. I am big on themes. It can be anything; pick a favorite city or country, type of food, a movie or even a song. Everything springs from the theme, the food, the music, the decor and even the dress code can.

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We always start off in the kitchen. Now I know these days everyone is all about the “open concept”. I am not. I like a kitchen, a living room and a dining room. People say “oh but then you can’t socialize and cook at the same time” and I say “oh yes I can”. We have a very small kitchen but that’s ok, it works. We start out there with hors d’oeuvres while I finish up cooking then head to the dining room for the meal. Many times we end staying at the dining room table until way after we finished dessert; talking and laughing. Other times we will head into the living room to continue conversation and sometimes even having a dance party.

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Wherever it ends up, I would like to say we always have a great time and I would like to think our friends leave with full bellies and great memories. Stay tuned for my next post on the Anatomy of a Dinner Party…

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Pinspiration, Inspiration!

7 May

Inspiration can come from anywhere, anything or anyone. I’m am constantly inspired but I must admit that Pinterest can provide lots of inspiration for all kinds of things. I use Pinterest to find recipes, ideas for parties, clothing and so on and on….and now you can even buy that dress you found and have to have! It helps me to see where I need to be with my business, what people like; trends. I love that you can arrange things, add boards and I can add the items I sell from the website. Pinterest is a fabulous business tool. (No, I am not in cahoots with them, this is all me.)

Here are some simple but effective ideas to make your patio gatherings really great that I found on Pinterest.

1. Lighting: those pretty little white lights that everyone loves. String them around your patio or even the patio umbrella for that soft, pretty lighting that feels like you’re in Paris! *The Window Shop

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2. Place settings: Adding a touch of nature to your table setting, like this radish, so sweet and unexpected! *Better Homes and Gardens

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3. Unusual ice bucket: Use a wheel barrow, a wagon, a large tin tub for a bit of whimsy and fun. It does the job and looks really cool! * Style Me Pretty

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4. Fruity/Floral Ice Cubes: So easy and so pretty! What an impact something so small can make. Add fruit, herbs or even edible flower petals to ice cubes. They look so pretty in a glass of sangria or seltzer! *Kidsdigne

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5. Chambray: A chambray tablecloth or runner with chambray napkins. who doesn’t love chambray? I know I do, so I decided to use chambray this season. Coming soon to you, by me and Patio Fashions…stay tuned!

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*Chambray Photo thisisnotsonew

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