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"Entertaining" is one of the most enjoyable and generous things a lady can do. It does not
have to be difficult or expensive. It can be as elaborate or as simply as you wish and still be a huge success.
The very most important thing is for you, the hostess, to be relaxed and comfortable. We can apply many of the same
tips that we offered you about public speaking because they apply to your success as a hostess as well. There a four key factors
- type of event,
- time and place,
will you invite,
- what food or refreshments
will you serve.
Once you have made
these decisions, the rest begins to fall into place. A helpful next step might be to prepare a budget as this will help to
refine the above factors. Some people start with a budget as they feel it determines all of the other factors.
I prefer to identify the four key elements and then develop the budget because I can then adjust accordingly. For example,
in order to stay in budget I might reduce the number of guests in order to afford to serve the type of food I want.
Or I could adjust the food in order to afford more guests. So often, we as hostesses allow ourselves to be intimidated
by what we think we must do for a proper event. This is unnecessary and defeating anxiety. For example, we have
read about the components of a "formal dinner or luncheon". For the most part, such formal occasions don't
occur today. In my considerable lifetime and world travels, I have attended only 5 really formal dinners. Four of those
were official state occasions and one was in the grand home of a Countess. To have a true formal occasion of this sort
requires proper facilities and adequate trained staff to be done correctly. However, the really, really good news is
that anyone can host an event with such flourish as to make the guests feel they have been honored with a "formal"
dinner or luncheon. As is the case with our recommendations for affordable interior design (September Tips) it is all
a matter of illusion. So, if you lay out an elegant table cloth with gleaming flatware, shinning china and glistening
glass ware your guests will feel they have been formally entertained. A word here about what that means if you haven't
realized it. This is something that you as the hostess are doing FOR YOUR GUESTS! They see what you have done
for them and they are honored and will admire you for your gift to them! In the following pages, which you can use as
a reference, my staff and I will give you the details and rules. YOU then can apply them to your circumstances, your
budget and your resources. Have confidence in us and in yourself. This will open a very exiting world for you.
In other words, you will KNOW which is the right fork, but YOU will decide how you apply that knowledge.
- Do you lay out the wrong fork on the table because you don't
have the right one and hope your guests won't notice?
you adjust your menu so you can provide the correct implement (fork) for each course?
- Do you decide you will need these forks for future events and go purchase them?
- Do you borrow the forks from your mother? Best friend? Mother-in-law?
- Do you add it to your birthday or Christmas wish list?
- A hint: if your'e
unsure of the correct answer to the above....the only wrong answer is number 1. All of the rest of them are correct.
Much of what we think of as table etiquette was developed by
our Victorian ancestors. They had lovely big homes with large numbers of trained staff and much leisure time.
Those rules presume all of the above. The formal dinner could have twelve courses and the "rule" was no more
than seven pieces of flatware (three forks on the left, three knives and one spoon on the right) at each place at a time.
If you are planning twelve courses at your next dinner, we suggest you abide by the rule. And, remember, no bread and butter
plates on the Formal table. However, we don't recommend serving twelve courses for a whole host of obvious reasons.
Therefore, we will help you identify options for setting your table to accommodate your menu, resources and guests.
After all, your guests comfort and enjoyment is the whole reason you are doing this anyway. Of course, you will enjoy
it too and your enjoyment will be tremendously magnified as you see your guests enjoying themselves because of what you have
done. By the way, back to the number of courses....that is where the expression "from soup to nuts" came from.
It is used to mean...from beginning to end...and refers loosely to the first and last course of a meal. As we examine
this further, you will see that the individual courses, though elaborate and ceremonial, are that big. Today, we are
accustomed to the main course having an entree and vegetables and a starch. In a formal meal, the entree (meat serving)
would be a "course" of its own. It is quite continental to serve the salad course after the entree.
However, for most Americans this seems awkward. Therefore, though it is not inappropriate, it should be avoided as it can
make your guest feel uncomfortable.