Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dinner Parties.



Some hear those two words and freak out, breaking into a rash from head to toe and try to avoid it at all cost with a list of fake excuses as to why they can't go. Others hear those words and say "what can we bring?", while marking the date down in their day planner. And then there are those who insist and beg to host so they can create an elaborate menu for a fantastic dinner and start planning the nights activities.

I am in the last category.

I absolutely love hosting dinner parties. Before we were married, this was something I really looked forward to in our life as a couple. I was so eager, in fact, that the first week back from our honeymoon, I had two different dinner parties planned all with different couple friends.

I was not very smart in my young, naïve years.

That week was a nightmare. The parties were fun and rewarding, but I was exhausted and turned off of dinner parties for the next few months. I had overdone it. We lived in a tiny 800 sq. foot apartment, which wasn't exactly prime space for more than four people to gather. I did not care, though, because I was doing what I had waited my whole life to do! After the last scheduled party of the week, I soaked for an hour in our little bathtub, came out of the bathroom beat red from head to toe, and crashed on the couch.

Husby walked into the bedroom, came out with a blanket and my favorite three magazines – In Touch, US Weekly and Life and Style. He informed me that I needed to rest and that he purchased those for me to enjoy after all of my hard work of party throwing. What a sweetie.

The first two years of marriage were filled with a few dinner parties a month, and that was much easier to handle.

And then came Medical School.

During husby's first year of Medical School (this past year), our dinner parties got put on hold for a long time. He study, study, studied day and night, rain or shine. I would beg for friends to come over, but husby insisted he had to study. Always. The summer finally hit and we have been cramming in as many as our date books can possibly hold. We had two last month, and this upcoming month, we have two more planned.

I love everything that goes into having people over in my home: creating their favorite foods, coming up with new dessert recipes, brainstorming different games or activities to engage in afterwards and of course, my favorite part, creating the table setting.

I have an unnatural love for dishes, so I own a lot. A lot more than the average 3 year old marriage, anyway. I have an armoire in my kitchen solely devoted to my dishes. I always have a setting on the table for whichever season we are in, and when I see new ones that I could create a "theme" with for a dinner party – I have to have them.

It's a sickness.

A fun sickness, nonetheless.

Here are the beautiful dishes that I have been using a lot lately! They are my "spring" dishes and I just got them a few months ago, so I have been putting them to good use.



This is not MY table - the picture is from the website. I usually accompany with a crisp white table cloth and a fresh bouquet of flowers.

I recieved these below for Christmas - LOVE THEM.



They are very french and very fabulous. I will use them mostly in the Fall because the colors are just so warm and rich. Both of these came from here, and I want each and every set.

It is more difficult and takes a lot more work to throw a dinner party as a working girl, but that does not stop me at all. I do, however, have the type of job that allows me to plan a little during my days there, which is always nice. It takes more effort and more exhaustion to get ready for a get-together while you're gone all day for sure, but it is always worth it in the end.

Here are a few of my secret tips for all you working ladies who want to throw fun dinner parties, but simply can't find the time!

Plan Ahead. Make your menu a week ahead and be sure to have all your ingredients at least three days before company arrives. This saves you from last minute headaches of running to the store for missing eggs or cornstarch.

Make Lists. Write out a list of every single thing you want to get done before the big party evening. Do a few items off the list every day and check off as you go. This provides a visual for you and peace of mind to know that you are right on track.

Clean in spurts. Clean one room of your house each evening of the week, after work, so that you are not stuck cleaning ALL of them the night before the party. Do all of your deep cleaning at the beginning through the middle of the week so that you can do the "surfacy" stuff last minute to make your house look sparkly fresh for your guests. Don't clean the toilets, countertops or vacuum until the night before or day of.

Make Ahead. Make the food that CAN be made ahead, the night before, so that you are not scrambling to get your kitchen clean fifteen minutes before they arrive.

Keep the Candle Burnin'. Candles cover a multitude of sins. If your house is less-than-perfect in the clean department, and company is arriving in a few minutes, light a candle. It creates a soothing, calming effect and gives the appearance that everything is under control….even when it is not. And they smell great. I use Yankee candles. In each and every room – bathrooms included. You want your guests to walk in and instantly feel at home with the soothing scents flowing throughout your house.

Ask for Advise. If you are stuck in a rut creating the same meals, or can't come up with that last side dish that would just set the dinner off, call you best friend or your mom. They will always drag you out of the rut and encourage you that the meal will be "just perfect".

Enlist Help. Sweetly ask your husbands if they can make the bed, fold the laundry, chop the onions…anything to help you out in any little (or big) way. They are considered "hosts" too, so make them live up to that title! You may have to persuade them with a fun reward for them if they help, but trust me, it is always worth it.

Set Ahead. Set the table the day before. Use one of those table size hot pads and put that underneath your tablecloth, that way you don't have little hot pads all over the table under your hot dishes to mess up your pretty place settings. Always use a tablecloth. It is classy, pretty and makes you look "put together". Set the entire table – each place setting down to the silverware. This eases my mind every time because it's one less thing I have to run around and get done.

Background music. You know the times you have people over that you are not super comfortable with yet and there are often gaps or lulls in the conversation? Well, the background music provides comfort, distraction and makes those awkward moments not-so awkward. Silence is your worst enemy when hosting a dinner party.

Think ahead. Empty your dishwasher before they come. When the party is finished, you can open the dishwasher, throw in the dishes and go take a bath.

I hope these tips come in handy for you and make your next dinner party go off without a hitch! Be on the lookout for more tips on all things domestic!

10 comments:

  1. i love love LOVE your plates! they are beautiful :) and i love to host parties too! especially dinner parties. i feel that being a hostess is one of my gifts that God has blessed me with, and I look forward to doing it a lot in the ministry.

    i'm not sure yet when i will be on wheel of fortune! sometime within the next 18 months, a producer will call and tell me when my tape date is. so it could be next month, or next summer!

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  2. I wish I could be more like you in this department. You are always so welcoming and everything is divine. I try, and I do love having people over, but I don't seen to have the touch like you do. I will have to remember your tips. Very helful, Whit.

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  3. Any birthday dinner ideas for two? Something quick and simple? Advice would be greatly appreciated! :)

    Love the plates!

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  4. When I get a house, I'd love to have a space just for my dishes. However, I still need a house, and the dishes to put in there. We have some plain white dishes. I have work to do...love ya! P.S. I want to come for a dinner party! I wish we lived closer...maybe some day!

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  5. Those plates are too cute and fairly reasonable.....I love it!

    btw, found you via p.w., so I'll look forward to checking in on you.

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  6. Wow, that's a great website for dishes! Thanks for sharing it!

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  7. Hi there, found you through P.W. While reading your list I was nodding my head saying, "I do that."

    Love your dishes. My weakness is serving bowls and platters. I'm alway on the look out.

    I like your site and will be stopping by again. Have a wonderful day.

    Toodles~

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  8. Love the dishes! I also love hosting dinner parties and love to hear new ideas. Found your site from P.W.

    www.journeyoftryingtoconceive.blogspot.com

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  9. That's it. I got to this point in reading your blog, Whitney, and decided we are long-lost BFFs. You have NO idea how much I love toile, and anything French countryside. I'm in love with your plates and of course, your taste!!! I'm loving your blog!!!

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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