A cheese plate at Surroundings Christmas Open House
I recently looked through a magazine and there was Martha Stewart's beautiful stable set up for Thanksgiving. It looked stunning, however, let's be honest few of us own a 10 million dollar stable, a custom made table that sits 24 (thousands of dollars), sets of Tolix chairs ($250 each). Of course, there is the issue, do you really want to eat in the barn/stable? But it makes for one great photo shoot!
Entertaining is an art form, there is no doubt about it. But the secret to great entertaining is not the photo shoot worthy table settings, it's being a great host.
A great hostess puts everyone at ease, is relaxed, and is thoroughly enjoying having people in their home. Sure it's nice to have the incredible table settings, but if the conversation is lagging and there is no laughter in the room, it's pointless.
I entertain a lot, my little farmhand cottage is small, about 1200 square feet, I don't let that stop me. I set up folding tables in the living room and rent chairs from Pedersens. I cover the tables with left over upholstery fabric, and the center piece is often created with whatever I have in the house. I love this orange vase, a gift from Interior Designer Barb Gergel. This past Thanksgiving I cut some branches from the Smoke Tree in the yard and some Virginia Creeper, which had turned bright red. Simple, fast, no fuss, no muss, and it still looked great the next day. So Martha Stewart would not put this display in her magazine, it's fine by me, my guests loved it, and they also loved watching me throw it together.
Which brings me to my next point, part of being a good host is letting them in on the action. Leave something undone, so your guests can see you put it together, this develops that relaxed atmosphere. If everything is not done when the guests arrive, just chill, let them watch with a glass of wine in their hand.
The great host does not care if red wine gets on the carpet. If you go mental over the thought of red wine on your new berber, or shoes worn on the hardwood floor, please don't invite people over. Accidents will happen, and when they do, the great host will simply laugh and move on. Years ago my girlfriend knocked over a full glass of red wine, it hit everything! The carpet (brand new) the sofa (new slipcover) and the arm chair (just custom upholstered). She was mortified, I got out out my magic formula (see below), and then gave her another glass of wine.
1/3 cup of hydogen peroxide
1 and 1/2 cups of water
and a squirt of Sunlight dish soap, (the original yellow container)
Mix this up is a spray bottle and have on hand. It truly will take care of any stains.
When I was choosing the flooring for the cottage, I considered the entertaining aspect. I choose solid rustic cherry, tough, durable, and red wine wipes up easily. All the guests love the floors (they can wear slippers or heels) including the 4 legged ones (they prefer to go barefoot).
I hear excuses why people don't entertain all the time, "my place is not big enough," "the dog is a pain," "I dont have a table big enough," "I don't like cooking," "it's too much work," "Im too tired." Really it's O.K. I think we put far too much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect. Afterall, every magazine shows us the beautiful photo shoots of the perfect dinner party, the perfect Christmas dinner, the perfect cocktail party. My house has never looked like that, and never will. I entertain because I love having people in my home.
Love Where You Live