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Home Sit-Down Dinner Party - A Lost Art?

Updated on February 7, 2016

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.

Something new that's old
Something new that's old | Source

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?

An old table.... so what?
An old table.... so what? | Source
  • 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.

Indulge from beginning to end - it's fun!
Indulge from beginning to end - it's fun! | Source

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

Soft-boiled egg for a party?
Soft-boiled egg for a party? | Source

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.


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    • Tonipet profile imageAUTHOR

      Tonette Fornillos 

      5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hi Pamela. Thank you. It's a great feeling to know there are still so many women who appreciate the art of old-fashioned dining. Perhaps it's always been in the heart, many are just too busy to plan for one. At the very least, it's still welcome. Thanks so much for dropping by, hope you and your mother will find it a very special time preparing for a sit-down meal. She will love it... she will cherish those good old ways. Goodluck Pam. Blessings all the time:=)-Tonette

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      We use to have sit down meals using the good china and so forth quite frequently when I was growing up and in my early years of marriage we had dinner parties as well. My mother and I were just talking about this topic not long ago as we would like to have a nice dinner like that again. It has been a long time since I have done that. I really enjoyeed you hub and appreciate the information. I feel inspired now. Hugs

    • Tonipet profile imageAUTHOR

      Tonette Fornillos 

      5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hello shai77. I know the feeling. It's like, even if there is no occasion, it's stimulating to put up a dinner-get-together to celebrate. You are an inspiration to others. Thank you for reading my hub. It's so nice that I have inspired you. Keep it up!

      Hugs and kisses! -:=)Tonette

    • shai77 profile image


      5 years ago

      This is beautiful, I love throwing dinner parties and going to them so this was just such a joy and inspiration to read! Thanks for all the great info. Excellent hub!

    • Tonipet profile imageAUTHOR

      Tonette Fornillos 

      5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Thank you MsDora. Now there's so many of us to prove that sit-down-dinner or family-style dining is beyond just food, like you said, it is enjoying life with style. Cheers to that! - May you have more enjoyable sit-down meals with friends and family at home. Smiles! :=)-Tonette

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Tonipet, I embrace this. This is enjoying life in style and I love your ideas. Voted Up!

    • Tonipet profile imageAUTHOR

      Tonette Fornillos 

      5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Oh, thank you lovedoctor. It's so nice that you enjoyed reading, I feel on top!:=).... I think this goes down to one thing -- something old-fashioned has a thing that touches the heart... Beautiful! Glad to meet you, trust that I'll be coming over:=)

      Hugs from me, doc:=)-Tonette

    • Tonipet profile imageAUTHOR

      Tonette Fornillos 

      5 years ago from The City of Generals

      I'm with you Ruby, getting the family together needs a little effort. Why not invite them for Sunday brunch? .. or heavy breakfast? That's before they'll have to go out for whatever plans for the day - they needed to eat! One effective way I discovered was a dessert and coffee time that I call "a goodnight snack, lol (but that's when they live just nearby).. This way, everyone can be excited at what they're about to get just before going to bed.

      Thanks for reading my hub. It's so great having you around. Hugs!:=)-Tonette

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I came across this hub while hub hopping and I must say that I really enjoyed reading it. voted +

    • Tonipet profile imageAUTHOR

      Tonette Fornillos 

      5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hi Faith! So fortunate of me to have landed in a land of the great old-fashioned!:=)... I feel joy just listening to how you go about sit-down meals in your house - those couple of times a year surely have marked a very special memory in your children. One day, you'll be amazed to see a reflection of those good old days w/ the whole family gathered up around the dinner table.

      I could imagine the delight I'm going to have if I was joining you in one of your dinners, lol. Family meals like this seems one of the loveliest things that makes me on the go, every time. Thank you, Faith for sharing them here. It's an inspiration to many. Keep it up!

      Haha, I did not have sit-down lunch with everyone during the weekend. Perhaps in the next birthday occasion, it sure would make me busy making the most of what I have.:=) Thanks again. So love to learn there's still a lot of us into sit-down-dinners. Blessings!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I love a sit-down meal and i love to decorate my table. Paper plates are a no no at my house. The main problem is getting the family together. Thank you for sharing tips and thoughts, enjoyed...

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, now, you are talking my language! I love old-fashioned sit-down dinners with the big dining table beautifully decorated. Although, my family doesn't gather much and the dining table does not get much use for such but a couple of times a year. I wish I could do it every Sunday after church with at least my immediate family gathered around, nothing more special! However, as you pointed out, my children are grown and live fairly close but not just around the corner, but down the Interstate in another city, and they have their weekends planned, etc.

      Your photo looks almost just like my dining table when it is set for that lovely sit down dinner. We had one on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and maybe one or two more special occasions during the year.

      What a beautiful and useful hub. Great topic for a hub too.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      Have a lovely Sunday, with maybe a lovely sit-down lunch ...

      Faith Reaper


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