With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner and plenty of special dinner parties and gatherings in between, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to entertain your guests on the holidays.
Preparing Your House for a Special Evening
Consider making your next dinner party a hybrid -- cook a delicious meal, and compliment it by purchasing a fresh fall dessert, such as pumpkin pie, from your local grocery store or follow dinner with fresh coffee or tea. You can also throw a cocktail party with light appetizers such as finger sandwiches and cheese with crackers, instead of a sit down meal.
For a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for your guests, try softening up your home with low-watt light bulbs or dimmer switches. You can also add an artistic flair and a cozy feel with some scented candles in neutral colors.
Rather than purchasing new decorations that you’ll only use once, easily create a comfortable and light atmosphere in your interior by making a few calming music playlists for your guests while you dine. You can easily brighten up your living space with a festive flower arrangement from your local flower shop and placing it on your dining room table or near your front door.
If you plan to serve alcohol, consider purchasing a bottle of fine red wine, wineglasses, cocktail glasses, bottle openers, and a small ice bucket with tongs.
Decorating Your Dining Room Table
Enliven your dining room and table by purchasing extra dishes and chairs for your guests and extra chair cushions to ensure every guest is comfortable.
Purchase a new tablecloth in a warm fall color, or one decorated with leaf or flower motifs, as well a new cloth napkins to match. Consider purchasing matching napkin rings and candle holders for a upscale finishing touch on the special occasion. You can also buy specific napkin or dishware sets for cocktails, dinner, and dessert.
Finish off the table with a centerpiece such as a woven basket filled with pressed flowers or colorful Native American corn.
Keeping Your Kitchen and Freezer Well-Stocked
Since your guests will most likely arrive before dinner is ready, you might want to leave some light snacks around the house, such as a cheese or vegetable tray, a jar of olives, an assortment of nuts, or jarred artichoke hearts.
For the freezer, purchase a few cartons of ice cream or sorbet to have with coffee or tea after dinner.
Serving Ideas for Special Occasions
Plan ahead for dinner parties and special events by cleaning serving boards, platters, soup tureens, casserole dishes and trays that you may not have used for a while. Or purchase new ones with holiday motifs for seasonal flair. Make sure that you also have plenty of coasters and serving utensils such as tongs and ladles.
Specialty cookware, such as a turkey baster, roasting pan, potato masher or extra large serving plate are extremely important for any dinner party or special event this fall.
Always have plenty of spare cutting boards around while you cook, so you won’t have to to worry about washing one before preparing your next dish. With multiple cutting boards and chopping utensils, you can also work with several other cooks or family members to prepare quality dishes in a timely fashion.
Additionally, on special days like Thanksgiving, it can be extremely helpful to create a cooking schedule or purchase extra kitchen timers to ensure each food item is prepared properly and in time for dinner. Time management will ensure you have plenty of room in the oven when you need it.
When entertaining guests during the fall months, it is a great idea to pick a fun activity in which everyone can participate before or after dinner. After dinner, consider creating a Thanksgiving poster on which each guest or member of your own family writes their favorite memories from the year. A fun after dinner board or card game is also a great way to spend time with your guests. Consider also projecting a classic movie, such as It’s a Wonderful Life or a A Christmas Story on a blank wall for a classy finish to your interior.
For any young guests or children, consider creating a special kids’ area in your dining room with a small table covered with butcher paper and a cup of markers for the children to draw.
Cleaning Up and Storing Items When the Night is Over
Cleaning up after having guests over for a special occasion or dinner party can be quick and easy if you’re prepared.
Purchase key cleaning tools such as silver polish and soft cleaning cloths for cleaning and shining silverware and other silver items you plan to use on the big night. Try using empty wrapping paper rolls for storing clean and ironed linens and tablecloths without creating fold lines. Purchasing a stain-removing kit or spray to remove any stains or spills on your tablecloths and napkins. For storage purposes, always make sure you have plenty of cardboard boxes for stowing any excess glassware you don’t plan on using after the holidays. This is an especially useful tip for storage after significant events such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners.
To improve for next year, consider keeping a small notebook for jotting down what did and did not work this holiday season.
With a few key items and some careful planning, each special event you plan this holiday season will be executed perfectly. Make memories to last a lifetime this fall.