I love to entertain at home but I never like the feeling of a caterer suddenly taking over my house and transforming it into their domain. Even if I do get some outside help I still like to have my own touches that make guests feel at ease. After all they are not in a restaurant but in my home. Here are some of my tips that I had prepared for the launch of my site at Pottery Barn last October which were displayed by vignettes that I styled in the store. These are all based on my entertaining principles that I adhere to no matter how relaxed or formal the occasion – movement, comfort and conversation.
There’s nothing that puts a guest more at ease than a cold glass of bubbly. Welcome your guests as soon as they come in the door with a tall, frosty effervescent glass. Set out a table by the entrance with a tray of champagne flutes and a bottle on ice.
A beautifully styled coffee table is great to look at but more often than not difficult to maneuver for guests to set down their glasses or grab a canapé or two. Clear out your coffee table and use it as a space to serve some appetizers and hors d’œuvres. Perhaps some cheese and sliced salami ? A dip with crudités ? A bowl of pita crisps ? Anything that will tide them over before the main event starts. Need ideas? How about my Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Arancini or my Caviar Terrine? You can also place a tray with some wine glasses and a bottle of wine to help serve themselves to a glass or two. It’s all about making them feel right at home.
For intimate events the dining table serves its main purpose however once I go beyond the number of seats I usually prefer to transform it into a beautiful buffet of heavy cocktail dishes. Rather than go for items that are best eaten sitting down, I construct my menu so that everything can be eaten with a fork and one hand. Mushroom and Feta Samosas, House Cured Salmon Gravlax, Sautéed Gourmet Sausages with White Wine, Dijon and Herbs, a nice Couscous salad or tabbouleh… I will always have one hot, heavier item like an indulgent lasagna or moussaka. On hot afternoons I’ll set up a DIY panini station and for the cooler more festive season a raclette station with all the fixings is always a sure hit ! I would also set up dessert on the other side or for more movement on a bar cart in the living room.
Most people need some time to relax and unwind after a heavy dinner. My husband has his favorite little spot in the home that showcases his cognac, liqueurs and cigars. It’s always nice to offer a little after dinner digestif with an espresso and some chocolate.
After a full dining experience from apéritif to digestif things definitely need some perking up and nothing energizes a party more than the shaking sound of a beautiful cocktail ! Set a bar with all your favorite liquors and mixers and invite guests to make their own and experiement.