Home Sit-Down Dinner Party - A Lost Art?
A sit-down-dinner party may sound a little formal and to some degree "olden," but take note -- it brings a touch of old-fashioned! Aside from being the better option for small gatherings, there is something special about a beautifully set dinner table where food is passed around for everyone to take.
However, it seems that holding a special sit-down dinner party has become almost impossible with today's "everybody's busy" world. It used to be deciding on the menu was the hardest part of the planning; now just finding time to host for a special dinner even for a table of eight has become the most difficult part.
Is hosting sit-down dinner parties already a lost form of art? Here are what I think can help revive those good old ways.
Beautiful Table Is the Thing
Whether you use your everyday dishes, your fine china, disposable paper and plastic-ware, setting the table with style sets an imagination of loveliness. Use a small plate for dessert and put out the right silverware for what you're serving. A soup spoon if you're serving soup, and a dessert fork for dessert. Do you still have your mother's tall glasses?
- Let the juice colors of fresh fruit salad show through a transparent server, a subdued bowl can be a pretty backdrop for colored candies, or deep-colored bowls to spice up rice and pasta.
- Fresh leaves and flowers are a go-go centerpiece as they're easily plucked from the garden.
- Unscented candles in crystal glasses or bowls surrounded with fragrant herbs and spices will even relax your guests. The blend of lighting puts magic that affects the vibe of the party.
- Place all the food on the table at one time, and together enjoy the meal. Your gorgeous plates, platters and bowls will get everyone inspired.
I like using white plates and bowls as food looks very elegant when framed against white. Pastel-colored macaroons will look even more precious. I seem to have inherited this idea from my mother who has been a collector of plates, glass wares, and tea cups. Me and sisters still use her dainty dinnerware pieces to this day. If you have children, teach them how to set the table. It's a beautiful gift you can give them.
The Appetizer Appeal
No matter how nicely you ask, you will not have all of your guests arrive exactly at the same time. Some may come late and others may be clever to come too early.
Some sort of appetizer not only tides over hungry guests and fills time while waiting for late-comers, but sets the tone for the evening. Whether you are planning on something glamorous to please friends and family, or a very good all-from-scratch meal, simple but hearty appetizers and hors d’oeuvres (pronounced as awr-durv), will both quell your guests’ hunger and allow them to savor a more gratifying meal.
There are hostesses who believe that appetizers are unnecessary, but these are the extras that will enhance a sit-down-dinner experience. Have you tried coffee with liquor served after dessert? Aside from wine and cocktails, something hot is fun and what really could keep your guests talking.
He Sits Here, She Sits There...But Why?
A sit-down-dinner provides arrangement of guests most congenial for conversation. Talkative people mixed with quieter ones or new guests with regular ones will help spark lively conversation and keep the tone of the party balanced.
Do you have to pay attention to who sits by whom?
In the old days, one code of etiquette in dinner parties was all about the seating. This set of instruction on a formal dinner party seating from Emily Post sounds overly stiff, but I think her insights about socializing still ring very true.
"It is usually a mistake to invite great talkers together. Brilliant men and women who love to talk want hearers, not rivals. Very silent people should be sandwiched between good talkers, or at least voluble talkers. Silly people should never be put anywhere near learned ones, nor the dull near the clever, unless the dull one is a young and pretty woman with a talent for listening, and the clever, a man with an admiration for beauty, and a love for talking.
Most people think two brilliant people should be put together. Often they should, but with discretion. If both are voluble or nervous or “temperamental,” you may create a situation like putting two operatic sopranos in the same part and expecting them to sing together."
So coming into today's social environment, a sit-down dinner offers an easier way to bring every guest into the fold and make them feel included. The general consensus is to inspire everyone and prevent any guest from being left out of the fun.
The host or hostess sits in the seat closest to the kitchen so that when you need to get up during the meal you won't disturb your guests.
Celebrate Your Food
If you believe in the expression that we first eat with our eyes then you'll find a way to make your food look attractive. I'm not saying we need to spend hours for fancy decoration. I just think it's some kind of cheeriness going out of our way a bit to make our food and our tables look colorful when we're having company over.
Knowing your guests and their "food likes" means the easier it will be to know what to serve. With a little twist, a special combination can lead to another and everything else opens up all around. Keep the party simple and fun. The goal is not about how expensive but how creative.
The Real Art of a Sit-Down Meal in This Century
Perhaps there is nothing more precious than everyone dining together around the table enjoying a warm feeling of sharing. Even if guests may not all have the most refined palate, they will appreciate eating.
For people "who don't have time" a sit-down-dinner can help. An invitation will force them to come to your house. So regardless of having to fly to the moon for a meeting with the stars, they definitely have to get a meal! They'll get delicious dinner, real conversation, and a relaxing evening. They'll thank you for taking them to a journey back to the 1950's and once again appreciate the importance of having dinner together.
After all, the goal of any host or hostess is to treat guests with everything delicious. So your sit-down-dinner can instantly create a warm feeling associated with a fond memory of a place or time.
Thanks to my mother, I'm still a fan of a sit-down-meal. It's an ideal time sharing day to day life with the people that I care about. I hope the tips will help us get back to the basics...especially around the holiday season.