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HOW TO PLAN THE BEST DINNER PARTIES

 

 

Spring is the perfect time for entertaining!

 

 

At FrenchGardenHouse, any time is the perfect time,

 

but especially in spring and summer,

 

when I take the party outdoors.

 

 

 

Once you’ve selected the date, and invited your guests, it’s time to plan something beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO PLAN A FABULOUS DINNER PARTY:

 

Whether you are having an elegant soiree or a casual get-together,

 

here are my very favorite tips to get your creative juices flowing

and plan a party no one will soon forget.

 

{For all the right reasons!}

 

 

 

1. GET INSPIRED:  

Inspiration is everywhere – it can be your love for a color, your favorite flower, a stunning antique container you want to use as a centerpiece, the season, or your favorite secret recipe. Whatever you choose, use it to plan the details of your party around.

 

 

 

2. FLORAL ACCENT:

I tend to think about all the “pretty” first, so I usually decide what to do for flowers.  Using an unusual container as a focal point for your buffet or dinner table works well. Or placing small antique French glass jars or bottles, each with one flower in it does too!

Really, you just can’t go wrong with flowers.  If you don’t have much experience designing flowers, just keep it simple. All one type of flower in one color always looks beautiful, or several different flowers in one color works, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. BE PERSONAL:

Use some things on your table {s} that is personal. Dishes that belonged to your mom, a silver piece you inherited from a great aunt. Mix it with linen napkins you love. Make a secret family recipe and share the recipe on a little card at each place setting.

Sharing the things that you cherish and have fond memories of make your guests feel special too! Don’t have anything you particularly love? We have plenty of gorgeous things you can fall in love with, make memories with your family with, and pass down to your children for “later!”

 

 

 

4. MIX&MATCH HIGH AND LOW:

I am a firm believer of mixing high low….use your antique sterling coffee pot with newer French cups, mix and match chairs if you don’t have enough.

Add antique enamelware just because you love it, it all mixes together to create a look that tells your guests your story.

 

The fun of this is that it instantly brings the party to a more casual feel, and shows that you have a sense of humor and know how to have FUN!!

 

 

The beginning of my appetizer “tray” on an antique bread board.

 

I’ll just add a bowl of grapes, and nuts just before guests arrive.

 

 

5. KEEP APPETIZERS SIMPLE:

Go easy on the appetizers.  You are whipping up a delicious meal to serve {or having it catered} so you don’t want your guests to be full before they even sit down at the table.

The most stylish entertainers I know don’t put out a full-fledged array of appetizers, just a bowl of great nuts, or a few crackers with maybe one cheese. Or a bowl of those bright red pepadews. Voila! appetizers=fun and done.

 

6. BE DRINK SAVVY:

For drinks, offer white and red wine, one signature cocktail, and a festive “mocktail” for the mamas-to-be, designated drivers, and other guests who don’t drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. DO WHAT YOU DO BEST.

If you are like me, and more adept at designing a pretty table or buffet than baking a ten layer cake, outsource!  These days, I usually make the main course and a salad {but not always} and buy the rest. Honestly, no one cares.

 

 

 

 

8. EMBRACE IMPERFECTION.

Planning any type of party is a feat these days, life tends to be so busy. Remember that your home, your table, even you don’t have to look and be photoshoot perfect. Plan ahead, so that you can enjoy yourself as much as your guests. It’s okay to be real, your guests just want to know they are welcome, you love them, and that you are going to enjoy their company.

The perfect example I can give you of this in my own acceptance of imperfection is the annual Easter Egg Hunt Brunch we host here at FrenchGardenHouse. I used to {long ago} feel like I had to cook, bake and DO everything myself, and everything was planned to an inch of its life. More than likely, by the time my guests arrived I was exhausted. {And maybe a little grumpy.}

 

 

Now? I realized that every dish doesn’t have to be home made, nor everything polished to sparkling. It’s okay for some things to be “imperfect” – these days I make a huge salad, order a ham and a turkey breast, and ask guests to each contribute a favorite Easter dish. That’s it.

 

 

The buffet looks pretty much the same each year. I use curtains {!! the only thing I could find that had enough matching cloth for all our outdoor tables} for tablecloths, plunk in my favorite linen napkins, some antique silverware sprinkled around, and call it good. I try to add an unexpected element, like the French children’s wheelbarrows we sell at the shop, below, because of the #funfactor.

 

 

FYI:  THIS year, we are remodeling two bathrooms in our home. So this year, guest will enter through the living room which will have the master bedroom and bathroom’s boxes, bed, dressers etc. stacked in it. Not to worry, the party will be outside! There were years where I probably would have cancelled the party. not now. Just saying. : )

 

 

9. DON’T CRY OVER SPILLED MILK.  

Yes, I know. It’s not easy when someone breaks a glass, or spills red wine on your new linen couch. But in the same vein as “8 {see above} things happen in real life. People are what matter most, and the memories you make with them. I’d rather have my little people feel special while using antique porcelain plates and silver than making them use plastic and paper. So what if we loose one plate or cup along the way? As long as my sweet family doesn’t get lost, I’m good with it all. You?

 

 

PS. Even though this post is about giving a party, I wanted to share a favorite trick I learned for a great gift to take as a host or hostess gift for when YOU are the guest. Wrap a wine bottle in one of our beautiful tea towels. It’s a perfect gift, the wine is enjoyed with friends and the towel is a wonderful reminder of you as well as something practical for your host’s kitchen!

 

 

 

DO YOU HAVE ANY FUN, MEMORY MAKING PARTIES OR DINNERS PLANNED THIS SEASON?

 

 

SHOP SPRING ENTERTAINING:

Delft Dishware | Hare Runner+Napkins | Spring Faux Hydrangeas | Antique French Enameled Pot | Antique Boulangerie Board

Flatware | Vintage French Wheelbarrow | Antique French Bottle Holder | Fleur de Lis Placecard Holder | Striped Linen Runner

 

 

 

 

If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.

7 Responses to HOW TO PLAN THE BEST DINNER PARTIES

  1. This speaks my love language for sure! I love setting a pretty table and hopefully inspire others to do the same. You are so right that you want people to feel special and if stuff happens, move on! I picked up lots of ideas today. Blessings!

  2. You create the most beautiful tables with your vast collections of gorgeous dinnerware and linens, not to mention antique accessories…love that dinnerware (you know that already)….I do love the fact that “imperfection” is good!

  3. I love the fact that “imperfection” is good too! Otherwise, we’d all be in trouble. : )

  4. You certainly have shared some beautiful tips and oh, what lovely tables! The hydrangea in the French bottle is beautiful as are the ranunculus. I shared a link to this lovely post in my Tablescapes and Tablestyling group!

  5. Chloe, thank you so much for your visit, and sweet comment. It’s so nice to see you here. xo Lidy

  6. You know how I love your style and this post did not disappoint. You have such a laid back way of entertaining, yet everything looks gorgeous and I think that makes guests feel special. I’m soaking in all of your ideas; the napkin folds and ribbon, the flower arrangements, and your menus/shortcuts.

    We are casual at the lake but I think a lot of our friends really might like a little bit of pampering and all around dinner party rather than the same old steaks on the grill with sides of potato salad and corn on the cob!! lol. Midwest fare. I have silver and china up there and I’ve probably used it 4 times. And here in the city…we lose touch with friends when all we have to do is pick up a phone.

    Question: I have old silver and none of the knives have a serrated side. Why is that? And how do you add modern day knives to the mix if you are serving something that needs to be seriously cut?

    Thanks as always, Lidy, for your stylish tips for all occasions!

    Jane x

  7. Hi Jane!! It’s always such a treat to have you visit. I’m not sure why your old silver doesn’t have serrated sides. It could be that your set just didn’t come with that kind of knife. Although there are antique knives that do have a serated side. As far as mixing, I just DO it! Just stick that steak knife right there with the rest, or place it on top of the plate by itself. I wish I could visit you in either one of your homes, I know it would be a threat. xo

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