Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dinner Party Series: Guidelines and Tips

Don't overdo it!
In writing about dinner parties over the past several months, I’ve passed along some of my favorite Guidelines and Tips. There’s a lot to think about when you entertain, so here are even more suggestions for hosts and for guests! If you don’t entertain much, this list may feel intimidating - but it will soon become second nature as you start to host more often. You’ll also find a useful section in the Index headed How Much and How Many Appetizers and Beverages to help you determine the average amount your guests will eat and drink. 

These suggestions arent hard and fast “rules” - except for my guidelines around the toilet. Yes, the toilet! It’s a no-brainer to leave an extra roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. At least, you’d think so. But let me tell you, Dollinks, I’ve been to a couple of parties where there was no toilet paper at all. None! Nada! Zip! So today’s Guidelines and Tips are going to focus (to put it delicately) on what goes in and what goes out, and what you need to do about it whether you’re a host or a guest. I’ve done several other blogs on Dinner Party Guidelines and Tips. You'll find them in the Index under that heading.

What Goes In ...

• Don’t drink as you cook. Let me repeat: Do. Not. Drink. 
  • Wash any beverage glasses you haven't used in awhile. They may be clean, but chances are, they’re dusty.
  • Don’t put lemon slices in a water jug too soon. They’ll cloud the water. Drop lemons in at the last minute, as you add ice.
  • I like tablescapes that pack a “punch” - not just a few lemon slices in a glass jug, but a whole lemon, cut in half or in quarters. Does that work for you?
  • Did you know you can buy netted lemon wraps to prevent lemon pips from escaping? These are wonderful for fish - but consider using them to wrap the lemon halves in your water jug or cooler. A tiny, tight cotton elastic secures these yellow-tinted wraps.
  • If you’re a host, always, always, always provide plenty of beverage choices for guests who don’t drink alcohol.
  • And … if you’re a host, make sure your guests get home safely by ordering them a cab, arranging them a ride with a non-drinking driver, allowing them to stay over, and (worst-case scenario) taking their car keys.
  • Coffee will not sober up a drunk; try to ensure that no one gets that way by serving ample food and water with every alcoholic drink and by seeing that the over-imbiber is kept “busy” telling his life story in the conversational swirl. 
  • Despite coffee’s limitations, a large party needs three self-serve urns - one for full-leaded coffee, one for decaf, and one for the simmering water needed to make tea. So there’s no confusion, label each urn. For about $3, some restaurant suppliers sell aluminum labels that dangle from a chain attached to the top of each urn. If you can’t find these in your city, email Fullner Food Service in Lynden, Washington. The address: 
  • If you collect fine wine you intend to serve from your cellar, politely signal your guests not to bring any. All you need say is that “We’re going to be sampling a selection of wine from our cellar!” or “We’re supplying the wine for the evening!” 
  • If you’re a guest and know your host will appreciate a bottle of wine, bring one. Do this even if you’re traveling solo and all you ever drink is a single glass. Likewise, if you don’t drink alcohol, bring a little something you’ll enjoy. More about this in a moment.
  • Unless your homemade wine is famously popular, leave it at home and buy your host a bottle. Please don’t bring the stuff you brewed in a backyard still! Unless it, too, is famously popular, of course.
  • If you tote fruit juice to a party, drink fruit juice! We’ve all seen the guy who places a bottle of fruit juice on the communal bar, drinks everyone else’s wine, and later carries home his untouched bottle of fruit juice. 

Must Go Out ... 
  • Ensure you have a full roll of TP in every bathroom, as well as an extra roll in plain sight. Offer liquid pump soap and fresh hand towels (better yet, disposable ones) in each bathroom, as well.
  • Two little words: Bathroom spray. Buy some. Keep it visible.
  • While you’re at it, clean the bathroom as a host and clean up after yourself as a guest! Now’s the time to get that slow-flush/no-flush toilet fixed, too. 
  • Unless you favor unguided “house tours,” make sure you alert your guests to the location of the bathroom/s. 
  • I like to tease my guests. And so, when I hosted a Fourth of July party years ago, I floated red, white, and blue candles in one of the bathrooms. You can guess where I put them! My guests were stunned - and then everyone started to giggle. Mission accomplished. 
  • Enter the darkened bathroom, and ...

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