Looking to do more entertaining in your home but don’t know where to start? Does hosting a memorable dinner party in your home sound impossible to achieve on a budget? Well noted interior designers Tobi Fairley and Kathryn Greeley put our hearts at ease and sent our creativity into overdrive yesterday at their seminar, DecorEat: Designed to Dine hosted by AmericasMart Atlanta.
In just one hour, our presenters shared invaluable tips for entertaining with style and provided practical ideas for crafting parties that reflect your personal style.
With holiday season quickly approaching, I couldn’t think of a better time to receive this expert advice. Think of this primer as your jump start to easy entertaining.
Tips for Entertaining Like A Pro
1. Think of your table design as you would an interior.
Gather inspiration. A pagoda motif on a Thomas Paul fabric became the jumping off point for a table designed by Tobi for a Lenox Hill fundraiser. She took the motif and then sketched a design for the invitation, menu cards, and the table skirt. The rest of accessories came together effortlessly once she had the original design direction.
The addition of mini foo dogs, bamboo tableware, chopstick favors, pagoda centerpiece, and chair covers helped to reinforce the overall theme and finish the look.
2. Any item you love can be the catalyst for a party.
I can never forget this table designed by Scot Meacham Wood, King of Tartan, for Rue Magazine’s December 2010 issue . It truly encompasses all that he loves and is a direct reflection of his personal design aesthetic
3. Make your parties reflect your personal style by using what your have. There will be a great story behind your design concept.
Each year, Wood transforms a bedroom into a formal dining room for his annual holiday dinner. Armed with nearly 80 yards of marine blue taffeta, he staples the fabric directly to the wall and instantly creates an intimate dining experience his guest look forward to during the holiday season.
4. Create a great first impression. Think of your front door as the invitation to what the guest will see once they get inside. Use subtle accents to keep decor fuss free.
5. Small embellishments bring big style. Add grosgrain ribbon or pom-pom fringe to plain fabric napkins for a touch of whimsy. Bond with fusible web and remove when you are done. Napkins can be reused/restyled for your next event.
Get More Bank for Your Buck Using Grosgrain Ribbon- Tutorial by Tobi Fairley
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
6. Menu choices should reflect the overall party theme. For example, if you a having a Fiesta allow your foods and drinks to further enhance the Mexican dining experience.
7. Create a signature cocktail. Cuts the cost of a full bar.
recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) citrus-flavored vodka
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) raspberry-flavored vodka
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Chambord
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon Simple Syrup Simple Syrup
2 tablespoons cranberry juice
Raspberries, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add vodkas, Chambord, lime juice, simple syrup, and cranberry juice. Shake or stir until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with raspberries; serve.
Lemon juice (about 1/4 cup), for coating glass rims
Superfine sugar, for coating glass rims
Frozen Ginger Lemonade
2 to 4 cups vodka
Lemon zest curls, for garnish
Dip rims of glasses in lemon juice and then in sugar. Pour 3/4 cup frozen ginger lemonade into each glass, and top with 1/4 to 1/2 cup vodka (to taste). Serve immediately garnished with a lemon curl.
Small ice cubes
3 cups cola
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 orange wedges or 4 sliced kumquats
For each drink, fill a glass 3/4 full with ice. Add 1/2 cup cola, 3 tablespoons rum, and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla. Squeeze orange or kumquats into drink, and stir.
8. Choose widely regarding the color of your plates. Colored plates look better for white or bland foods such as chicken and starches. White are more attractive when paired with colorful foods.
9. Cake stands make food look grand.
10. Create placecards. Seat guests that have something in common next to each other. Placecards show your guests that you took the time to create something special just for them. They can also take them home, along with their favor, as a sweet momento.
11. Don’t hold guests hostage in your dining room. Have meal courses in different part of your home. Sharing all of the public spaces in your home (i.e. living room, dining room, kitchen, study) provides a change of scenery and encourages conversation.
12. Keep guests from crowding the kitchen. Passed drinks and hors d’ouerves prevents the bottleneck effect that happens when guest gather only in the kitchen.
13. Use chair covers to give your seating a new look. Coordinate them with your new tablecloth instead of renting new chairs each time.
14. Don’t be afraid to hire caters or wait staff to assist you. You should make time to enjoy your guests.
15. Use music to create an atmosphere. Live music is more affordable than you think. Contact your local symphony, college, or high school to get recommendation for great musicians. If you have a piano in your home, hire a pianist for a couple of hours, if not try a trio of violinist to help set the tone.
16. Be a cheerful giver. Favors, small tokens help people to remember the experience.
17. Create an entertaining sourcebook. Be sure to record your resources in one place so you have a guide to refer back to when you plan your next party.
Hungry for more entertaining ideas and inspiration?
Check out Kathryn’s book, The Collected Tabletop: Inspirations for Creative Entertaining
now available on Amazon.
Plan on hosting guests in your home? Which tip(s) will you use to help your guest have the best experience possible?