Enjoying Hydrangeas

A single blossom floating in a water filled globe bowl is beautiful way to dress up a table. Here are some tips to make them last longer:

  • Snip the flowers early in the morning or late in the evening at the woody stem.
  • Submerge the stem in water right after cutting it.
  • Increase water absorption by slicing the stem at a 45 degree angle.
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Saving While You Entertain

Here are some ideas to make a beautiful ambiance while keeping your party in a budget…

  • Buy a large inexpensive bouquet at the grocery store and divide it in smaller arrangements.
  • Clump some votive candles around the room to create a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Create a menu and ask your guests to bring a dish from it.
  • Choose a wine that matches your appetizers and as a non-alcoholic option have water with slices of cucumber in it.
  • Make your guests feel special by using your best serving dishes and dinnerware.

More Star Wars and Food

To continue on one of my most visited posts, here are some more Star Wars gadgets for entertaining and parties.

Han Solo in carbonite ice tray.

Lightsaber candle holder.

Princess Leia and Darth Vader aprons.

Assorted stencils for sugar or cocoa.

Star Wars hot beverage tins: Vader’s Dark Side Roast, Hoth Cocoa and Yoda Dagobah Green Tea.

A Night for Two

Valentine’s day might be long gone, but there is always time for a little romance. Here are some styling tips for a dinner for two…

  • Don’t set a big pan or tray on the table, but small individual servings in smaller pans or trays ( individual lasagnas for example)
  • Would you like to create an intimate place for two on a big table? Put a runner across the place settings instead of the length of the table and cover with your plates and flatware. Use the rest of the table to set other dishes or cover it with small vases with little flowers.
  • If you always sit in front of each other, go for a change and sit next to each other or at the corner of the table.
  • Do a bit of ribbon in a bow on your flatware, put on your favorite music and disconnect the phone.

Tricks of the Trade

If we had a kitchen tool for every task it would be a lot easier to entertain, but if you are like me and don’t have an industrial kitchen or storage space, here are some tricks that may help save time and space…

  • No rolling pin, no problem, use a wine bottle
  • Use a 2-ounce (1/4 cup) ice cream scoop to portion the perfect size for sliders
  • A squeeze bottle can hold ketchup in the summer or squirt fun shapes of pancakes
  • Bundt cake molds are very multi use, you can make an ice block with is pretty shape (works better with small ones), insert a chicken in the opening and use it as a vertical roaster and the shiny variety can hold candles
  • Talking about candles, turn a champagne glass and you will have a very chic candle holder
  • Chopsticks for Asian food are also great to level flour and sugar
  • An egg slicer also does the trick for mushrooms, strawberries and mozzarella

The Informal Table for a Potluck

Are you thinking about throwing a potluck party for this Christmas season?  After consulting with your friends and family about what dishes everybody will bring, read some tips here on how to put the party together.

–         If you don’t have a big table, you can put together smaller tables together. This is ideal as the menu is composed of many different dishes.

–         Use white plates as a base. Since everybody is bringing their own dish you will end up with unmatched serving pieces. You can also use disposable plates in pretty designs. This way you will still have a coordinated table.

–         A complete glass set is not necessary, and you can use different glasses. If you still want to keep a coordinated table, you can pick glasses with a round bottom or glasses with a stem.

–         Make sure there is a beautifully designed place card for every guest and that there is a little present at every place setting. And don’t forget to add a seasonal touch such as branches or lights.

A Christmas Table for the Little Ones

The Christmas dinner is a big party for children when the dinner table is decorated for them. Think about funny prints with a base of greens and reds. Orange and turquoise can also be used for a happy burst of color.

Instead of place cards, place a gingerbread cookie and write the child’s name in icing. Tie their flatware to a napkin with ribbon and decorate it with a candy cane.

Sprinkle the kids’ table with metallic confetti in star shapes. In place of classic candles you can choose candles in the shape of Santa Claus, reindeers, and other Christmas figures. Just remember to put them in a safe place on the table or don’t light them at all.

Cut strips of paper in different print but in the same color shades and make a paper chain. Or cut circles and tape them to string to make a garland. Hang from the chairs or from the ceiling.

Let the kids shapes from cardstock such as a heart or a star and have them decorate them to their own taste. Glue these shapes together with a piece of ribbon forming a loop and you will have nice ornaments for a small Christmas tree specially for the children or to be used as gift tags.

Table Etiquette in Five Steps

According to etiquette, this is how you dress a table:

–         The plates are placed from large to small at a distance of approximate two fingers from the edge of the table.

–         The bread plate with a butter knife is placed at the top left of the place setting.

–         Glasses are placed at the top right of the place setting. On the left, the glass for water and on the right the wine glasses.

–         The flatware is used from the outside in the order of the courses. The forks are placed at the left of the place setting and the knives and spoons to the right of the place setting.

–         The spoon and fork for the dessert are placed at the top center of the place setting.

Christmas Dinner Planner

With good organization and this planner you can make a great Christmas dinner party just two weeks in advance!

TWO WEEKS BEFORE

  • Take a look at your tablecloth. Is it big enough? Is it stained? Do you have enough napkins?
  • Do you have enough plates, glasses and cutlery?
  • Make a playlist of (Christmas) music.
  • Clean your candleholders. Place it in the freezer for a couple of hours and the wax will peel or crumble easily.
  • Check your cookbooks, food journal or the internet and decide on your menu. Check if you have enough pots, pans and baking tins.
  • Check with your guests about diet restrictions.

SHOPPING LIST

  • Buy all the groceries that won’t spoil.
  • Fill in your basic pantry with things such as matches, coffee creamer, aluminium foil and dish washing liquid.
  • Buy alcoholic drinks, juices and soft drinks and skip the busy shops later.
  • Buy items with Christmas motifs such as napkins or candles. Now they are widely available and later nowhere to be found.

1-2 DAYS IN ADVANCE

  • Check that your wineglasses are clean and otherwise wash them and dry them with a lint-free cloth.
  • Make copies of the recipes and put them in a folder in the order they need to be made.
  • Clean the coat closet and make space for the jackets of your guests.
  • Cool the white wine and bring the red wine to room temperature.
  • Organize and vacuum your house and clean the toilet.

SHOPPING LIST

  • Buy fresh groceries.
  • Buy flowers for the dining table.

DAY OF

  • Have a to-do list close by (what goes in the pan or oven and when).
  • Set the table and chairs and set the places on the table.
  • Give yourself two hours in advance to prepare and relax before your guests arrive.