Let's have a dinner party! Are you jumping up and down.... excited and ready to start planning? Or are you filled with anxiety and stress... thinking about all the work involved? 

Most of us love to go to a dinner party... and love the idea of a dinner party... but many of us don't love hosting  them. 

Let's see if we can change all that!  This post is all about making dinner parties enjoyable and easy...  for the hostess... from planning to clean up!

 I'm setting a table for a dinner party and sharing lots of tips with you. And I have lots and lots of tips!!!!!  Hope some are helpful to you as you plan your next Great Dinner Party!










I'm sure many of you have really wonderful seasoned tips too! So join in .... please share your best dinner party ideas and tips with us as a comment! I want to hear ALL your brilliant ideas!







PLANNING...

Planning an easy, doable table was the inspiration for this soft comfortable table.

A dinner party does not mean lots of people, a big fancy table, tons of elaborate food and days or weeks of preparation. This is not your mother's dinner party table. 

SG TIP: Plan your dinner party well in advance. Being rushed is hard on a hostess. Put your plan of action down on paper! 






THE GUEST LIST

Invite just a few people over for an easy, yet scrumptious dinner... and eat in the kitchen!!! People lead busy lives and today we are looking for an intimate and relaxed dining experience! Host a cozy dinner party with a handful of treasured friends.







THE TABLE

Today's table is not a "fantasy table" or one that took much time to set. This table is not "staged" for photography... it is  real! It is in keeping with the spirit of  "an easy and doable table" for an intimate dinner party!

Each place setting is a combination of red and white textures and patterns... with a little touch of organic green to give it a Christmas feel!

The placemats are really napkins. This is a clever trick I use often! We all have so many more napkins than we do placemats, so when napkins work with your table styling just fold them in the center and use them as a placemat!

 These red and white napkin placemats have a nice pattern that brings interest to the table.






SG TIP: Buy an easy to clean and iron white tablecloth. This is sure to be your most used tablecloth! By adding great placemats to it you always have a beautiful canvas to set your table! 

For this table little Christmas balls are scattered over this snowy tablecloth.






THE PLACE SETTINGS

Red and white is one of my favorite table color schemes! I love it's crisp and cheery feel. Red and white dishes look so jolly on the napkin placemats!

Chargers are a wonderful and easy way to  make a big statement on a table! They are an inexpensive and  have a big impact!

You don't have to pull out your good china for an intimate dinner party! I LOVE white dishes, and these are my everyday Mikasa Italian Countryside dishes. Pretty enough for company!!! And food always looks the best when served on white dishes!







Many of my dear readers think I have closets and closets of dishes. Not really. I repeat the same dishes over and over again in fresh ways. This pretty red and white accent plate (HomeGoods) adds lots of panache to the the white dishes I use everyday!








SG TIP: Buy a set of white dinnnerware. They go with everything! To add interest to your table purchase inexpensive accent plates!

SG Tip: The dinnner party table is decorated for Christmas. Yet, none of the dishes are embellished with any Christmas motif. Buy dishes that have great colors and generic patterns. Use the other elements on your table to promote a specific theme!






Red napkin rosettes placed in a small bowl greet each guest! This is a VERY EASY napkin fold... and you don't have to iron the napkins! Real rose leaves are tucked into the bowls too! For a tutorial on this impressing and easy fold, click HERE.









TAKE HOME GIFT


One of my very favorite tips is to put something at each place for your guest to take home. A cookie, a little bag of candies or homemade jam, an ornament, a little vase of flowers, a treasure from nature... simple and thoughtful.

My guest are so delighted to carry something home from our evening together.

Each guest will take home the little evergreen  wreath that encircles the small white bowls.  I will tie a pretty festive ribbon to them and present it to my guests before they go home.






SG TIP: Keep your eyes open for little take-home gifts when you are out and about. Always buy on sale or make them. This should be a joy to you too and not a financial burden! I just got a mismatched  assortment of silver spoons at an consignment shop for $6.00. I'm saving them for a girl's luncheon as a take-home gift tied up in a pretty ribbon. BE CREATIVE!






THE GLASSWARE
Use your go-to glasses for a relaxed dinner party! I love any glassware with a stem! I think it brings an chic look to a table. Here are my French Countryside goblets from Mikasa.

I added deep red goblets (Williamsburg, Charter House) to hold wine. These will be taken right off of the table and used before we sit down.  I modified the tip below a little for this table. I am using the goblets for my guests before we sit for dinner. Make your table work for you!








SG Tip:  Only put water glasses on your table when serving a casual dinner. Serve your libation of choice to your guests as they come in and then they can take their wine glasses to the table. Keeping drinks simple makes things easy and economical.






OTHER TABLE ELEMENTS

Combining different flatware can be a very unexpected surprise! Here I used my vintage flea market silverplate and red handled salad forks. FUN!







White salt and pepper shakers are always a classic! These are Mikasa Italian Countryside.








THE CENTERPIECE








A couple of cake pedestals and a little bowl make up the structure for this festive centerpiece! 








I pulled out the Christmas ornaments, pinecones and greens. Arranging 6 grocery store roses with the Christmas elements produced a centerpiece that looked like it  took an hour to create it... nope, only 5 minutes!








I love the formality that $5.99 worth of roses can give this centerpiece. Inexpensive and easy... now that's my kind of centerpiece! And this centerpiece gives a big design nod to the red rosette napkins!








SG TIP: You can use this centerpiece over and over again. Just fill it with seasonal decor. Eggs and nests in spring, small vases of florals in the summer. Little pumpkins and mums in the Fall. Snowflakes and pinecones in the winter. I can think of so many themes to use with this centerpiece!








The table is ready and waiting for your guests. Fill you home with music and pour yourself your favorite libation... but in moderation! 









SG TIP: make time to spend 15 minutes relaxing before dinner guests arrive! It will make such a difference in you ability to be a calm and gracious host or hostess!

It is hard to enjoy your dinner guests when you are slaving in the kitchen preparing elaborate meals! Careful planning goes a long way in making a smooth dinner party... one that a hostess can also enjoy!

Choose the memu wisely. Avoid recipes that take you away from your guests to prepare and cook for any great length of time.

SG TIP: Plan ahead, prepare ahead, cook ahead~ the dinner party is a time to be with your guests not in your kitchen all night!








DINNER PARTY MENU
Chopped Salad
Chicken A La King In Puffed Pastry
look for an upcoming post
Roasted Asparagus With Lemon
Ice Box Cake
look for upcoming post
Chardonnay
Coffee/Tea







QUICK STONEGABLE TIPS FOR EASY CLEAN-UP


~ CLEAN UP AS YOU GO... clean off counter tops, oven spills etc. Have a clean and workable kitchen by the time your guests arrive.
~Do not do dishes or load the dishwasher while entertaining dinner guests... concentrate on them
 Best SG Tip:~ Clear the table and put dishes, flatware, glasses and pot and pans in separate plastic dish pans filled with hot sudsy water. Stow them away in a laundry room, garage or out-of-sight area. They will soak and be practically clean when it's time for them to be washed
~ Choose dishes that can be put in the dishwasher
~ Collect all centerpiece items that need to be put away in a plastic dish pan or two. It is so much easier to carry the dishpan from place to place putting items away
~ When guests leave put all the table linens and any dish cloths and towel right in the washer and begin the soak cycle

I hope this post has inspired you to host a DINNER PARTY!


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