In this edition, we are going to discuss some basic items need for entertaining. Items you should collect ahead of time and store for when needed. This will make entertaining easy and less stressful.
Some of the most basic elements one should have are dinnerware, silverware, and glassware. Not the stuff you use for everyday dining, but items that are set aside solely for entertaining. They need not be the most expensive, but they should be free of chips and cracks and they should be a matching set. Before you buy, determine how many guests your home can comfortably entertain, this will determine how many of each item you will really need to have on hand.
Dinnerware need not be fanciful, but it should reflect you. Find a color, shape, and design that appeals to you, that you will enjoy keeping for a few years. The set should have at minimum: dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, bread plate, coffee cup, and saucer. If you cannot find a set with all the needed elements, try combining sets that complement each other in style and design to have the items you need. Store these away from your everyday dinnerware to prevent chips and cracks and to prevent accidentally breaking pieces. Yearly sales are a good time to keep an eye out for sets that you would like to have.
Forks and spoons have a habit of disappearing at my mom’s house. It can be a challenge to set a table at her place when you're hunting for matching silverware. Again, it does not have to be the most expensive (or pure silver), but your silverware should be sturdy and matching. Find a design that appeals to your sense of elegance and the number of courses you aim to serve at any given time. Salad, dinner, and dessert forks, soup spoons, and teaspoons should cover most needs. Again, store these away from your everyday silverware to prevent missing and/or damaged items.
No need to break the bank acquiring crystal stemware (although everyone should have a set at some point in their life). If you plan to serve wine at dinner at some point, you should plan to purchase two sets of glassware. One set for water or drinks other than wine and one set of wine glasses for red and white wine. They need not be excessively designed, clean and simple goes a very long way in this area. Storage applies to this as well.
While it may seem that these items are a huge expense, they are really not. They can be gathered, a set at a time, over the years and you can often find real gems at various yearly sales. The idea is to have them on hand to make your life less stressful when you do have to entertain. With these items readily on hand you do not have to think about throwing together a last-minute dinner for your boss or an important guest.
Next issue we shall discuss creating ambiance. Happy Entertaining!
Proud, ambitious, cunning: the traits of a House that turns out its fair share of leaders in the political, economic, and societal arenas. Knowing how to entertain potential political allies, business partners, and societal matrons will help solidify your position. Entertaining does not have to be an expensive, fancy, or stressful affair. There is elegance in simplicity. In this installment of Elegant Entertaining, we start at the very beginning: meal planning.
Planning a meal for a dinner party or any other small function does not start on the day of the event, nor does it start the week before. The Slytherin witch or wizard should already have a small repertoire of go-to dishes they have practiced and perfected earlier. Try that new recipe first beforehand so that you can safely evaluate its potential.
Choose delicious over complicated. Simply prepared dishes – that are perfectly prepared – will impress your dinner guests. Make note of your guests' dietary needs beforehand and plan accordingly. Prepare dishes separately to help accommodate those guests. A three-course meal encompassing a soup or salad, the main course, and a dessert should be sufficient. Aim to reduce your stress and leave time to relax and enjoy the conversing with your guests.
We eat not just with our taste buds, but with all our senses. Keeping this in mind, vary the colors, textures, flavors, and richness of your dishes. At the same time, try to aim for a cohesive theme to your meal from start to finish. For those lacking house-elves, it would be beneficial to include some dishes that can be made a day ahead, such as the soup or dessert.
Finally, should you find yourself entertaining on a regular basis, a simple log of meals served previously will help you to keep your meals fresh and invigorating. Serving the same meal constantly is a faux pas an up-and-coming young Slytherin would not want to commit ... ever.
To start you on your journey, here is a simple recipe that you can practice and tweak to your own delight.