The holidays are here! We LOVE this time of the year- albeit for different reasons. Chef loves the adrenaline rush that come with hectic schedules , jam-packed days, a fully booked hotel and restaurant reservations. I just like the fact that we get to celebrate the ending of a year and reflect on it and the new one ahead (and all the parties in between). Who doesn’t love a party? Life is better with a party!
How to set the table for entertaining at home
As I have gotten older, I have craved the blaring discotheque less and less and have opted for more low key entertainment where talking is required, not optional and you don’t have to scream over loudspeakers to do it. So, these days I choose a lounge or a restaurant way more over the disco and I am huge on entertaining in my very own home.
Contrary to some people’s belief, entertaining at home is not a massive affair relegated to the uber rich with full time butler service. And it’s not only for older married people either. It is for all of us. As long as you have people you want to invite to your home, you have got the makings of your very own soiree! Today we focus on setting the table.
- A dining table is essential for a seated dinner
- Serveware- ie the vessels in which you will place the food. We tend to prefer the mult-functional flexibility of all white modern serving pieces for more snazzy shindigs. We also like the modular restaurant quality porcelain and fine bone china units (depicted in photo above) for their longevity and ease of storage. Many pieces are stackable so that means less cupboard space!
- Whereas we use large serving pieces for cocktail functions when serving canapés and hors d’ouerves, we tend to favour smaller serving pieces when we are having a seated dinner. This makes more room at the table and you can place smaller servings of each dish at both ends of the table for easy access and distribution without clutter. Plus smaller serving dishes are easier to pass around. Try lifting one of our heavy platters while seated- quite a task!
- Nice stemware. You can go for handmade glass water goblets which are way nicer than their factory made counterparts but if you can, spend extra on your stemware for wine. Shoot for crystal if you can. Look for deals and buy them in small doses to be gentler on the pocket. If you do not serve alcoholic beverages in your home, then go for fancy goblets with stems to elevate your juices to another level.
- A sideboard is a huge plus for a buffet because you don’t have to pile all that food on the dinner table and people can eat without pausing every minute to pass the sauce.
- If you are having a cocktail do, you can get away with using a sideboard only to display food. Serve in small plates to maximise space and stack them.
- If you use a sideboard, you can keep the table free to create your decorations and use any theme you desire.
- We prefer neutral plates generally, and go for them in both classic and formal designs. We strongly suggest porcelain over just regular ceramic if you want things that will last in your dishwasher. Fine bone china is heirloom quality and may be used for ultra formal settings or if you simply feel like. You don’t have to be like the typical Jamaican grandmother who only takes out her good china when she has visitors to impress!
- You need not have the finest things to have a good time. Aim for the best quality you can afford and use them with pride and dignity. There is no shame in this game!
- Flowers warm up any setting. You cannot go wrong here. Pick some that reflect your them and use to draw together the colours being used on the table.
- Put your most elaborate piece on the dinning table but have a few extra stems that you can assemble on your own for the sideboard, etc.
- Make the same cutlery and crockery look new every time by stocking up on relatively inexpensive accessories like placemats, table runners, napkin rings and napkins. It is amazing how much these can change the look of a table especially when combined with a floral centrepiece. Think of it as the jewellery, bags and shoes that can take an outfit from everyday daytime, to a sultry nighttime hottie. Sorry guys, I couldn’t help but get ultra feminine on this one.
- Don’t be caught up with not having enough proper cutlery for formal dinner service. Simply make do with what you have and have a more informal setting like in the photos. You may have to buy in pieces over time to get all you want. Go with a brand that allows you to do this.
- When you are ready for ultra formal, take the plunge and buy a 67-piece fine bone china set from Noritake or Villeroy & Boch. Until then, that is no reason to postpone having a jolly good time right now!
- Select appropriate music. Restaurants pick music that matches their theme- you should too! Select music that puts people in the mood that suits your brunch or dinner party!
- Whatever you do, bring good vibrations to your own party. Remember it is a party so be sure to enjoy it yourself. Don’t let the anxiety of getting everything right overwhelm your desire to have fun. After all, good food and good company are meant to be celebrated!
FORMAL AND INFORMAL PLACE SETTINGS
For more ideas for table settings for all occasions, visit our Pinterest board on Setting the Table.