Dining and entertaining guests is one of the great joys of stylish homemakers. Not only does it allow you to bring together a range of people—from acquaintances and coworkers to your dearest family members—but hosting in your own home puts to use all your beautiful dinnerware and serveware. Here's our quick guide to dining and entertaining for the modern host.
Stock the Bar: Gather the vessels for your array of beer, wine, liquor and ciders. Bar glassware essentials include tall and short cocktail glasses, cordials, wine glasses and pints or tumblers. Provide a range of spirits and non-alcoholic refreshments to accommodate the diversity of your guests. Set out a couple of small snack bowls for fresh citrus, herb or skewered vegetable cocktail garnishes on your home bar or bar cart to give drinks an elevated look. If you have a small home bar, set up stations for each drink type. For example, keep liquor, champagne and wine at the bar, but beer, ciders and non-alcoholic punch in the kitchen, along with the beer openers and mugs and glasses.
Set the Table: Lay down a cotton or linen tablecloth in a seasonal color or pattern. For a more formal, upscale look, lay a cloth table runner in a complementary shade over top, an added decorative touch especially nice for dinner parties and holiday dinners. If you'd rather show off the material of your dining table, try using only the table runner and placemats—it's rustic without sacrificing elegance. Line the center of your table with candles and other decorative items for holiday celebrations but remember to leave room for food, serveware and condiments. When place setting, make sure your napkins match or complement your other table linens. Next, lay out the dinnerware at each place setting. For a cohesive look, use matching dinnerware from a full collection. Mix and match dinnerware for a casual look. For formal affairs and dinners, use place card holders to guide guests to their seats and make them feel special. Finish off the table with the flatware. Gold and silver flatware patterns are classic styles, while rose gold is more modern.
Prepare and Arrange the Appetizers: Lay out a variety of tasty appetizers and little snacks for guests. They will not only have something to nosh on while dinner is prepared and the table readied, but will also feel welcomed and taken care of in your home, which should be your ultimate goal in entertaining friends, family and acquaintances. Use appetizer plates or similarly-sized salad plates for little snacks. Give your kitchen, patio and any other party space a down-home, rustic feel, and use colorful, oven-to-table cookware for baked dips, breads or other starters. Use trays and platters both to transport hors d'oeuvres and to serve them—they double as a nice little piece of decor on a table while guests pick and munch.