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How to Host a Holiday Party: Centerpieces, Flatware & More

Nov. 18th, 2010 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment   
Holiday Tips: The holidays are upon us and if you're planning on entertaining, you have most likely already thought about your tabletop decorations. While your initial thought might be to break out the fine china, crystal stemware, and poinsettias, there are a few other approaches you might want to first explore. So this year, leave that tattered box of cornucopias in the garage where it belongs and wow your guests with a beautifully unique holiday presentation.

Theme: Before you can even start decorating, you first need to select your theme. You can stick with a traditional theme and incorporate garlands, ornate glass balls, wreaths and so forth, or you can opt for something a little less conventional by adding an element of whimsy.

Here's a tip for those hoping to achieve an earthy look, with homemade natural accents.

Start with a glass bowl ó or even a rustic looking basket ó and add evergreen branches, fragrant pinecones, acorns or autumn leaves, which can all be embellished with a little white or silver spray paint (or even antiqued with a piece of sandpaper). Add some fresh pomegranates, cranberries or other seasonal fare to add a splash of color.

Colors: Depending on which holiday you celebrate, traditional colors usually include shades of red, green, white, silver, gold, and blue. But remember, when selecting your color scheme, try to keep in mind the colors already present in your home. By incorporating the best accent colors, you can play up your existing interior and achieve a truly cohesive look.

Tableware: With the right positing and some careful planning, any formal tableware set can usually do the job. When setting the table, be sure to follow these basic guidelines, which are based on the logic of when each course is served. As a general rule of thumb, the flatware on the outside left and right sides should be used first, eventually working your way in as you make your way to the main course. The number of pieces you will want to set will depend on the number, as well of the type of courses you plan to serve. But remember, no more than three pieces of flatware should be presented on each side of the charger.

The standard formal table setting should be arranged as follows:
  • Start with a charger (a large decorative plate), which will be used as an anchor for each individual place setting
  • Align forks (with the exception of a fish fork) on the right side of the charger
  • Position spoons and knives on the right, with the blades of the knives facing in
  • Place water glasses directly above the dinner knife (fill about two-thirds from the rim)
  • Set wine glass (red, white, or both) on the right, just below the water glass
  • Position bread plate above and to the left of charger
  • Place folded linen napkin in middle of charger, and if desired, position place card directly above charger

Napkins: From intricate lotus flowers to menu jacket folds, there are a variety of ways to fold linen napkins. If you aren't ready to dive into some serious origami, follow these steps for a basic, yet elegant napkin fold.

  • Fold the bottom corner of the napkin up to the top corner to form a triangle.
  • Fold the bottom left and bottom right corners up to the top corner.
  • Flip the napkin over horizontally (from left to right).
  • Fold the bottom corner of the napkin up to the top corner.
  • Fold the napkin in half horizontally (from left to right).
  • Open the napkin up slightly and stand the napkin up.

Now that you've equipped yourself with a basic understanding of how to plan a holiday dinner, throw in some of your own personal touches and flair, and set your plan in motion. Happy Hosting and Happy Holidays!
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