Friday, July 25, 2014

The ultimate set up

Give it up
Those who know me well are fully
aware of my love of entertaining.
Opening up my heart and home to
those I like and love is one of life's
greatest joys. Whenever we invite
guests we do our best to pamper and
indulge them. After all, they have
given us the gift of their company.
Therefore it's our responsibility to
give back by making the most of our
time together. Sharing one's home
is about as personal as one can get.
And personally, it's my pleasure.
Places please...
What's most important is to fuss
without making a fuss. Whether
casual or formal, standards must
be maintained. In today's rather
casual culture, everyone seems
to think that it's fine to put your
invitees to work. I must disagree
vehemently! There are plenty of
participatory sports but honestly,
stirring my sauce pan is not one
of them. You've taken the time to
come to my home. Hopefully I've
taken time to prepare your meal!
Never mind
While preparation requires a great
deal of effort, the host must invest
equal energy in maintaining a calm
demeanor. "T" tells of her mother-
in-law hosting Thanksgiving in
pre-Castro Cuba. After weeks of
hunting and pecking she imported
a traditional stateside feast. Upon
sitting sat down to dine, her maid
announced "Madam I dropped the
turkey." Whereupon the hostess
blithely replied "Never mind,
please serve the OTHER turkey."
Home plate
I'm still amazed at how few seem
to know how to set a table. Whether
porcelain or plastic, what's on your
table is as important as whatever is
served upon it. Having guests is an
out of the ordinary event. So why
wouldn't one do everything possible
to make the experience impossibly
extraordinary? Nothing makes an
evening fly by better than a touch
of wit and whimsy. Guests aside,
your table setting must be equally
entertaining. Go ahead, have fun!
Timing is everything
Why wait for an excuse? Every day
can be a holiday if you simply extend
an invitation. However just as with
cocktails, it's important to understand
who mixes best with who. Seating
a loquacious liberal next to a candid
conservative may stimulate dialogue
but the end result will be distasteful
at best. I suggest that serving up a
dose of diplomacy is the best way to
successfully dish it out. The more time
and effort one puts into a guest list, the
more appetizing the evening will be.
Finally, dishing it back in a timely manner
is equally important. The morning after
often means awakening to a mound of
soiled china and linen mixed with a dash
of a hangover. Some sort of an in-kind
gesture reinforces that it was worth all
of the effort. Whether a brief call, hand
jotted note, bouquet of posies, or a kind
invitation to a return engagement, one
must reciprocate in a timely manner.
Even the most seasoned host appreciates
some form of affirmation. So please serve
up some thanks for the memories!