Entertaining with Grace
Entertaining at home
Think of entertaining at home as a personal gift that you give to your guests. Inviting someone into your home is a very intimate gesture. Your home is that special place where you and your family share your lives. It is a refuge from the outside world and it is where you nurture and protect your loved ones. So, to invite someone into your home is to accept them as a member of your family for the time that they are under your roof.
In ancient times, if someone was in your home, you were obligated to protect them. Even today when you invite someone into your home you have accepted a great responsibility and must carry it out with complete sincerity. At the same time you can derive the most rewarding experience from successfully opening your home to your guests. Before we scare you away, we want to hasten to add that this is great fun and can be much easier than you think. Our task is to help you accomplish your goal so that you can entertain at home on a regular basis. In short...You can do this!!!
Key elements to successfully entertaining at home
- Be realistic about your resources.
- Prepare a budget and stick with it. This will determine virtually every aspect of your event...number of guests, menu, degree of formality.
- Select a date along with alternative dates in case you find that your first choice won't work. This way you can adjust quickly without starting all over when you encounter a schedule conflict.
- Select a theme or purpose. It is perfectly appropriate to host a party "just because" but you might think of an event or celebration that you want to use. This will help you focus on other things like guest list. For example, if you want to celebrate someone's birthday or anniversary you will want to invite people who know the honoree(s). Or if there is a community event coming up or a holiday approaching, you could use it as the theme for your party. The examples here could be the circus or opening night for your community theater group. Use a circus theme for your invitations and decorations. Or something that ties into the play at the theater.
- Compose your guest list carefully. This may be the single most important factor in successful entertaining. First consider your budget, available space, furniture and utensils. This will give you the number that you can handle. Don't be put off if the answer is just one! Everything still applies. It can be a wonderful experience with lasting satisfaction and rewards for you and your guest. If on the other hand, you can comfortably accommodate more than one, then consider the compatibility of your guests. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can bring dissimilar people together and make them enjoy each other's company. It just doesn't happen. Remember that you, as the host or hostess, are responsible for all aspects of the event and your attentions will be necessarily scattered as things come up and must be tended to. Despite your best efforts, there will be many things that require your immediate attention to stave off a potential social catastrophe. It won't be necessary to try to invite everyone you know to a single event because once you get the hang of it, you can do it frequently. As you get more experienced you will be better able to judge how many of your invitees will actually accept your invitation and attend. We describe more on this topic in the section on invitations.
- Food will be determined first by your budget, second by the theme of the event, third by your skill or availability of a caterer and fourth by the season and weather. The weather is an important factor. Serve food items that are appropriate. For example, salads and cold soups or jellied consommé are delightful in warm weather but serve heavier cream soups and fruit salads in the winter and fall. We also suggest that you serve fruits and vegetables in season. Though everything may be available year round, the seasonal items are much better in season.