Art of Gracious Entertaining | Dinner for friends


Do you love to entertain friends? Entertaining at home is an art with antique linen napkins, exquisite porcelain, sparkling glasses and perfect flowers creating an atmosphere none of your guests will soon forget. Sharing our passion for entertaining with friends is such a joy.

There are occasions, though, when a grand dinner fits neither your schedule nor the reason you are getting together with friends. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to host some of my good friends, all women who are part of my Giving Circle.

The Giving Circle is a small group of friends who meet together quarterly to provide funds to gift to people in our community who may have lost their job, have exorbitant medical expenses, or other circumstances, and need a financial helping hand.  We gift them either gift cards for grocery stores, gas, or other stores. or cash as the need dictates. The gifts are given anonymously.


For this dinner meeting I set a more simple French Country setting.  My husband found an old plank behind the garden house for me, weathered perfectly for what I had in mind. He cleaned and sanded it, then I finished it with several rubbings of wood oil. After layering my table with kraft paper, I put the plank in the middle of the table, it’s where all the salad toppings would be arranged. I took these photos right before the doorbell rang, so there aren’t too many on there. But I can tell you it was beautiful, practical, and one of the most fun dinners we have had together!

Some of you may know that we don’t have a formal dining room, our dining table is right in the middle of the kitchen. While it has it’s challenges, it does tend to make our meals more casual, and very friendly. {Everyone always seems to end up in the kitchen no matter what anyway!}  I baked baguettes {the kind that are already “half baked”} and put each one in a parchment paper bag, then printed out a scripture about giving. Tied each little bread with baker’s twine, and then went to the garden to cut some of our rosemary, which I formed into a circle.



In the photo below you can see the baguette and the rosemary wreath. So easy, I wired the rosemary sprigs with a tiny piece of florist’s wire to hold their shape.  Three bottles held simple flowers, I use all the same kind for a bigger impact.


It was such a busy week, that I decided to have a salad bar, and asked each friend to bring something as a topping. I provided appetizers, two different mixed salad greens, a variety of dressings, and drinks. All the toppings for the salad were placed directly onto my wood plank, for some of the more “wet” offerings, such as olives, I used square white plates.


I used large country pottery plates, and my vintage celluloid flatware, simple French glassware and wine glasses.


The PomPom ruffled linen napkins are so great for a table setting like this, they are large enough to fold and place under each plate. Their natural flax color are a beautiful compliment to the wood.


When everyone came, I placed their toppings on the plank in the middle of the table. Dinner was so. much. fun.  There seemed to be way more talking, passing, and laughter! I am definitely repeating a dinner party like this! The wood plank is also a great way to serve appetizers to a crowd. Just make sure that you clean it well between use.


Here are some of the toppings friends brought for the salad:


Smoked Salmon



Cheeses of all kinds, including shaved parmesan & blue cheese


Dried Cherries

Nuts of all kinds

Red onion, sliced wafer thin



Petit Pois {tiny peas}



Entertaining is such a gracious way to share your home, and enjoy time with friends and family. These days, for me, it’s also all about F U N. I hope you will give the salad dinner a chance, it’s a wonderful, simple and completely fun way to share a meal!


What’s you favorite way to host a group of friends in your home?
Don’t forget to pin this to your Pinterest Entertaining board!

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12 thoughts on “Art of Gracious Entertaining | Dinner for friends”

  1. So wonderfully French, Lidy! Nothing beats a natural and unpretentious style such as this, in my opinion. And what a beautiful cause you’re organized around. Very inspiring!

  2. This has been such an inspiration — from the “Giving Circle” to the plank on the table! Thank you Lidy, I forwarded the post to my 3 sisters to give them some inspiration too 🙂

  3. Love this table Lidy and the communal offerings to create the meal. The central board is stunning and I am sure you will use it again and again. The individual baguettes were just darling with their twine and paper wrapping and the inspiring quote. Very inviting.

  4. The dinner parties we’re invited to in France are rarely very formal. Maybe because my friends are great cooks and do everything themselves. (The one time there was a formal dinner, it was catered. Connection? I think so.) The focus is always on (1) conversation and (2) food. The table usually is pretty simple. When weather permits, it’s outside. As in fashion, they keep it unfussy.
    Your table fits the bill perfectly. Beautiful, amenable to conversation. The idea about passing salad toppings is great for keeping people talking and connected. And your mission is admirable.

  5. This is beautiful, Lidy. Your table is so special, the craft paper and word plank down the center. The simple flowers and the rosemary wreaths. I was just writing my newspaper column… I walk a fine line between sounding creative and pretentious. You have a way of making us work towards making the meal (or fabulous cause like yours) as special as possible. I really admire you!


  6. Katherine

    I love everything about this – especially the idea of the giving group. This setting is so welcoming and inviting. The small rosemary wreaths are so sweet, I’d love to make them for each place setting at my wedding.

  7. Ohhhhh, Lidy! This is so lovely! I just love the simple elegance of it all! The mini baguettes are adorable!
    Every detail is perfect! I would love to know more about tge Giving Circle, what a wonderful idea!
    xoxoxo Kathleen

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