“Even with everything that’s going on right now, I think we can all agree that welcoming a few friends and/or family to our home and sharing a meal is exactly what we all need,” says Beverly Hills home entertaining guru Fran Berger.
“Breaking bread with those that are important to us creates a bond and fills our spirit with the joy that can only come when we are connecting with others that we care about,” she says.
Berger has learned a thing or two from over more than 20 years of owning restaurants and more than 40 years of entertaining at home. She’s recently created a beautiful book called The Catalogue in which she shows you “how to create gatherings that produce memories and how to have a home that makes you and others smile.”
“Trust me,” she says, this has nothing to do with the size or location of your house or how much you spent with a decorator.” The book, exquisitely photographed and designed, contains beautiful written information on design items that will elevate your home, no matter where or how you live.
Berger has given us 5 tips for hosting a dinner party that are in the same spirit. At this point in your life, you probably want to go beyond the proverbial potluck for special occasions, and host a dinner party that really makes an elegant statement and celebrates the event or loved one in the style they deserve. Take a look:
5 Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party from Home Entertaining Guru Fran Berger
1. Avoid Scented Candles
Everyone loves scented candles – in fact they are one of the most gifted items. BUT they are also the one thing to avoid when you’re having people over for food and drinks. Even if you have a signature scent that you always burn, time, effort and energy have been spent creating the food that will be served and your guests should be greeted by the beautiful aromas emanating from your kitchen.
Those delicious aromas should not be fighting with lit scented candles. If you absolutely must have one lit keep it in the powder room as that door remains closed during your get together.
2. Make the Bar Easy
Create a signature drink that you can make as a batch cocktail. You can create a base for the cocktail and just add the alcohol or, if you’re able to, batch the whole cocktail (make a pitcher of them like a negroni or margarita) and eliminate the need for anyone to stand at the bar all night mixing drinks for the party.
If you are batching the entire cocktail recipe, remember to allow for ‘ice melt’ i.e., the small amount of water that melts when the drink is shaken or stirred with ice.
3. Use Glass Charms
Speaking of drinks, whether your guests are drinking only water at the bar, requesting a glass of wine or enjoying that batched negroni, everyone wants to know exactly which glass is theirs after they’ve set it down for a minute. The best way to ensure that glasses don’t get mixed up (and truthfully then needing to make a new drink in a new glass thereby increasing the number of dirty glasses) is to have a selection of glass charms that can clip on the edge of the glass so that everyone knows they have the glass with the red apple on the rim!
There are so many cute options – ones that go around a stemmed glass or ones that clip to the rim, some in the shapes of fruit and some in geometric shapes, some that look like people and some that look like animals. Have fun with them and never mix up anyone’s glasses again!
4. Serve Hors d’Oeuvres
Always have something for your guests to snack on when they arrive while they’re enjoying that welcome drink. Create a cheese board with crackers (keep the crackers plain and unflavored so the cheese can shine) and dried fruits or add cured meats (salamis, prosciutto, bresaola) grainy mustard, cornichon and nuts.
Or, if you’re feeling creative bake a brie in puff pastry or grill asparagus tips that are rolled in prosciutto. What’s offered can be as simple as bowls of nuts or chips. Keep it simple and make sure that what you are setting out will taste great at room temperature. Don’t make it a big deal, the goal is to have guests still be hungry when they sit down at the table.
5. Use Thoughtful of Place Cards
Last but not least, consider the importance of place cards if you’re having more than six at your table. When there are more than six at the table, people are never sure where to sit. Using place cards resolves that last minute confusion.
Seat talkative ones next to quieter friends, think about who always has a great story to share and consider who might need a bit of help coming out of their shell. Mix them all up and the conversation will flow, no one will be left out and you will have created an evening that everyone will love!
“Having said all of this,” adds Berger, “I could go on for another four or five. Keeping flowers/decor low, glass of bubbles at the door on a tray, music low and easy and the joy of a last minute aperitivo… so many ways to enjoy!”
Now find out how to be a good party guest who will be on everyone’s invite list.
These 5 tips for hosting a dinner party from Beverly Hills’ home entertaining guru Fran Berger will astronomically improve your social life.