all set

entertaining with style- making it work for you

Categories: Sources, Well Equipped, Setting the Stage, Posted on April 19, 2015 by Sandy Bergsten

Many people don’t entertain because they don’t feel they have what they need to entertain properly. So when it comes to setting the stage what exactly do you need? Well that depends on what type of party you want to have and how many guests you want over. Let’s start with a dinner party for eight. First of all you need to make sure your table will comfortably hold eight people (if not you’ll be having a dinner party for six or four).

For a dinner for eight you will need:

8 dinner plates

8 salad/dessert plates

8 soup bowls (can also be used as dessert bowls)

8 settings of flatware (dinner fork, salad fork, knife, soup spoon, teaspoon)

2 serving spoons, 1 serving fork

8 place mats

12 napkins (extra because inevitably some will get stained or lost)

8 napkin rings

2 candlesticks with white tapers or 4-6 votives

1-3 vases for a centerpiece

12-16 wine glasses (you’ll need a few extra for cocktails)

8 water glasses

4 highball glasses (these can be the same as your water glasses)

4 double old-fashioned glasses

1 bottle opener, 1 wine opener

1 large platter, 1 medium platter

Maybe it’s my Minnesotan roots but I like my china to resemble a whiteout. Food always looks better on a white dinner plate and it makes mixing and matching a breeze. You can find reasonable and attractive dishes at Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and Target. If you buy an oversized plate or charger make sure that it will fit into your cupboard. I almost broke my glass-fronted cabinet with some new plates when I shut the door.

Salad and dessert plates are a fun way to bring in a splash of color. If you can, try to get a set of each, that way if you are serving a plated first course and dessert you won’t have to wash the plates in between courses.

In terms of stemware you will ideally want eight white wine glasses and eight red wine glasses. If you need to choose one, start with a balloon shaped Burgundy glass. Crate and Barrel has a good selection at a great price. Pottery Barn sells beautiful and almost unbreakable Schott Zwiesel stemware. Make sure your wine glasses fit in the top shelf of your dishwasher. Nothing kills a party buzz like hand washing glasses. Some opt for stemless glasses, which can be used for red wine, white wine, and even water and cocktails.

For cocktails you will need highballs for mixed drinks and double old-fashioneds for those who want their spirits neat or on the rocks. I use the same type of highball glasses for my water glasses. And my double old-fashioneds double as my juice glasses.

Thick white cotten cloth napkins are a must. Why white? Because you can bleach them. And if you’re johnny-on-the-spot you can whip them out of the dryer, smooth them right away and fingers crossed bypass the need to iron them.

Napkin rings add a bit of elegance. In Ohio I use my antique silver napkin rings, out in California I opt for pewter ones. Plus rolling a napkin into a napkin ring does a bang up job of hiding wrinkles.

In terms of flatware there are some wonderful stainless patterns out there. You can find them at Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel but try logging on to Horchow and you’ll be surprised what looks like sterling but is really dishwasher-safe stainless.  Salad forks and teaspoons can be used for dessert. But if you get the option order an extra set of salad forks and try to find dessert spoons, no one really wants to eat dessert off of a little teaspoon. You might want to consider buying twelve place settings; you’ll never regret this investment.

For a more casual table I love dark woven rattan mats. The beauty of a hard mat is that they never need to be washed and ironed. And the white plates and pewter napkin rings make a subtle impact.

Your serving platters can double as trays for hors d'oeuvres and cheeses. Again the food really stands out on the white ground and the monochrome allows you to mix and match different shapes and sizes while still looking like you have a cohesive set.

You know how everyone always asks you what you want for your… birthday, anniversary, the holidays? Use the above list as a wish list. That way you too will be all set to entertain with ease!

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