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Consider seating arrangements and include everyone in dinner conversation.
Invite a couple of good conversationalists. Though the food, of course, should be excellent, it's the conversation that is the essence of every dinner party.
As Charles Mosley, author of Debrett’s Guide to Entertaining says,
"Conversation - or rather it’s lack, even simply a degree of stickiness in its progress – may become a sandbar on which the skimming yacht of your dinner party comes to the most horrible grief."
Consider political hot buttons. A lighthearted political discussion is one thing, but no one wants to dine on the set of a presidential debate. Seat opinionated guests with dinner companions who are less likely to take offense.
Twelve is the max for conversation, but take into consideration the size of your table.
After several years of living with the china you chose when getting married, your pattern might be outdated or you may simply just be tired of the same old pattern after all these years. Tastes do change. Marriages are forever (we hope), but tableware does not have to be a lifelong commitment. If you really don't like that fussy floral pattern anymore, just let it go – it's sure to be snapped up in a garage sale or on eBay. If you own plain white plates, the options for mixing it up with accessories are endless. Bring in accent plates. At Moyarta, we love mixing our good French or English china with pieces of vintage porcelain or glassware. The possibilities for changing the look of your table are limitless. We love using vintage pieces of silver as serving pieces, especially if it's monogrammed with a variety of initials. It'll make things even more interesting. Just stick to a fairly consistent degree of formality or a cohesive colour theme, and then have as much fun as your imagination allows.
So you didn't cook that delicious five-course dinner from scratch. So what? Stick to what you do best, whether it's cooking or arranging flowers, and take a few shortcuts on the rest. A happy and relaxed host ensures happy guests. If you are not supremely confident about making a particular dish but really want to have it on your menu, don’t be worried about buying it from the store. As long as it’s served properly, there’s no need to worry. If you're no Barefoot Contessa, don't think twice about serving Chinese takeout. As long as you take it out of the takeout containers and serve it either on a gorgeous platter or even new individual takeout boxes like in this picture below, you need have absolutely no guilt about it. It can still be just as fun and stylish even if you didn't cook the whole menu from scratch.
Lets face it, we all look better by the glow of candlelight. Even though dining by candlelight can’t instantly transform us into model material, it can turn a less than perfect house into one that seems welcoming and glamorous. If the dinner party is all arranged at the last-minute or if frankly, you just have better things to do than clean the house, just dim the lights and rely on candlelight to make everything glow. When guests arrive, hand them a glass of champagne or a cocktail and lead them into a living room flickering with votives, tapers, and pillars. They'll be so charmed that they won't notice the bookshelf that you forgot to dust. But don’t forget to leave the scented candles out of the dining room. Nobody wants to have the delicious aromas of your gorgeous cooking spoilt by heavily scented candles. Choose unscented candles only for the dining room and save scented for the guest bathroom.
Forget about the bunnies, swans, oriental fans or Sydney Opera House napkins. Leave these napkin folds for restaurants -- usually the ones that are trying way too hard to make up for really bad food. Stick with a simple, classic folding of your napkins. An elegant, simply folded napkin with a monogram is perfect for a formal dinner party. Embroidered or patterned napkins with a gorgeous statement napkin ring are stunning and the combinations with chic white plates are endless.
We are all used to seeing designer magazines that showcase massive round centerpieces on the dining room table. Whilst this may create a beautiful picture for their layout, in fact, this type of arrangement is not very practical when having guests to dinner. We need to ensure that our guests can see each other across the table so that conversation flows easily. That's why we love low arrangements -- if they break out beyond the center of the table, even better. Think about a row of small, clear vases along the center of the table or at each place setting, Don’t forget to have a seat at the table before the dinner party starts in order to check the view!
Now we don’t mind a little bit of flirting at the table to keep things interesting but no lovestruck lovebirds please. We're talking strictly about seating arrangements here, and a dinner party is just the right time to split up your favorite loved up couple. It keeps conversation flowing and encourages people to talk to someone they don't see every night across the dinner table. Hopefully, it prevents any small domestic arguments like who forgot to unpack the dishwasher from ruining your beautiful dinner party.
You may wish to express your creative flair but please don’t be creative with the basics. In other words, no reworking of the "how to set the table" formula as you don’t want to confuse your guests. The tried and true formula has served us well for years, and yet, some guests might still have a hard time remembering that when it comes to cutlery, you work from the outside in. Don't make things any more difficult for them by attempting to get creative with the knives, forks and spoons. And if one of your guests were to make a dining faux pas, the best host is a gracious host who pretends not to notice and raises a glass for a toast to an unforgettable evening!