You’ve slaved in the kitchen for days—you might like it if the whole thing wasn’t over in a flurry. Give thanks for a table (and a meal) that will guarantee guests stick around for seconds and maybe thirds.
1. Start Eating Immediately: Stretch out the party (and their waistbands) with some light appetizers and drinks upon arrival. Tell friends and family to show up as you are finishing up prep and offer them nuts, cheese, or easy crudite in the kitchen so they feel extra welcome and welcome to help out.
2. Setting the Scene: Here’s a pro tip. Set the table before you’re in the thick of things—like a few days before. That way you can make sure you like the looks of it, and you aren’t rooting around for forks in the midst of cooking. A nice touch? Don't forget to prep with a great playlist that you can also pull out for the main event.
3. Tall Tales: That rule about tall table settings being the ultimate no-go? Forget it. As long as your centerpiece is slender, people can still carry on a conversation around it. Plus a tiny footprint means more room for food.
4. Get Carded: People love the pomp of a place card, particularly when it’s written in your "bespoke" handwriting. Slip a place card into a piece of seasonal produce, write their name on a magnolia leaf, or just pop a folded note on their plate. This is a big day after all.
People love the pomp of a place card, particularly when it’s written in your "bespoke" handwriting.
5. Salad Days: Consider eating in shifts. Something as novel as a salad course ensures everyone eats their greens and paces themselves.
6. Pass Interference: Some dishes are too hot and heavy to pass. Signal what’s untouchable by wrapping handles in a chef’s towel. If you don't have a buffet table (or a butler), start by offering to take people’s plates and serve them, so no one goes yearning for yams.
7. Spoon-Fed: Ensure every bowl or platter has the proper serving piece, so guests are not forced to fork up what they need in small pieces.
8. Thanks for the Best Seat: We’re not going to tell if you strategically seat yourself near your favorite dish. That’s not selfish. That’s just good planning. However, if you are in assigned seats, it was likely planned to create lively conversation. Leave politics, religion, and dream scenes at the front door.
9. Never Wine Down: Keep wine on the table—without ruining your look. A decanter of red lets your guests serve themselves without getting up. And it lets you pretend to know more about wine than you actually do.
10. Give Thanks: Before you serve dessert, go around the table and give some old-fashioned thanks. You don’t need any special cards or games—just a pointed ask to remind everyone why they are there.
11. Coffee Talk: Let them linger over dessert by keeping the coffee and conversation flowing. If your table is feeling cramped, retire to the living room for sweets and they’ll be sure to lounge longer.
12. Aid Digestion With Digestifs: If you did this right, every one is full, but they can probably make room for a little more booze. Consider serving digestifs like amaro or chartreuse to settle stomachs.