When You're The Host
The host sets the tone. Dinner is, firstly, planned in your home: when you choose to be the entertainer, there is a responsibility that is entrusted on you to put together the entire affair. Your métier is to make everyone in your home feel comfortable and relaxed. This may be stressful, and it's alright to ask for help, but remember to stay poised. If you're running around in a state of panic, cursing if something falls on the floor, or seeming as if this event has caused nothing but stress to your day, your guests will feel like they are an inconvenience. Rather, focus on putting out relaxed energy that reveals how happy you are to have some of the greatest people you know gathered together under your roof. Think of this, if Emily Post wanted to entertain as a host, her guests will feel very well taken care of.
I love it when someone hosts a dinner and really hosts it. I’d hate to see our generation lose what it means to host. It's alright to have a few potluck dinners, but don't be dead set on them for all your gatherings. It's not about how fancy your dinner is, it's about the feeling you get when you've gathered around good company.
Physical letters in the mail may not literally be needed. We are trying to bring back the grace of entertaining, not forgetting that technology exists. However, with that said, possibly a phone call or a nicely designed email is much more gracious and thoughtful than a social media message.
Within the first few minutes, coats are off, proper introductions are been made, and everyone has a drink in their hand (whether that's champagne, coffee, or water.) It may also be a good idea to give most of your attention to the people you know the least. With your help, your guests will have a smooth transition from arriving to getting warmed up to the environment.
When people first arrive, it's alright if you don't have everything finished. Often times, it will create a more friendly environment if you'll still be cooking the main course, or plating the salad. There are some things though, that should always be ready ahead of time: music playing, drinks are ready to be served and appetizers are available.
Don't Be Late
The timing of a dinner party has a lot to do with what you're serving, but generally try to adhere to the idea of serving dinner within 45 minutes from the time people arrive to the point when everyone sits down for dinner. This gives guests time to nibble on appetizers, have a drink, and get comfortable with other people at the party.
Now that your preparations are done, dinner is complete, and your guests are comfortably gathered around the table, it's time to enjoy. Make an effort to have all phones put away during this time and really focus on each other.
Keep the Principle
It's important to continue the essence of traditions. I’m really nostalgic and can hold on way too closely to the specifics of how something is done. It’s important to be able to let go of the specifics, but hold on to the intention.
Photograph by Jonathan Wherrett