Sunday, December 1, 2013
All That Glitters.... Part II: Layering It On
In my quest for the perfect holiday setting, I discovered many layers of goodness, from the bottom up! I am not a tablecloth girl, as I love the way a shiny table looks beneath those layers. It's an elegant touch and worrying about "ruining" the table is just silly. It's not a museum piece, it's the table you use, therefore, it should look used. Wear and tear gives something age and with age comes character. Dining without a tablecloth really does not mean damaging your table though, hence the layers. I also never place a hot dish on my table without something under it for protection, something pretty, such as a coordinating placemat. If you look closely enough, my layers can range from 4-6 pieces. I usually start with a large round placemat at the bottom of each table setting, add a round mirror, next a charger with a color that complements the theme (but different color than the placemat), the dinner plate and, lastly, the salad plate. Something always tops the salad plate. This time it's a pomegranate with the guest's name written on it. Previously it's been a napkin with a beautiful napkin ring, a miniature martini glass of shrimp cocktail, or whatever sparks my imagination at the moment. Layers give the table depth and make it feel warm, inviting and well thought out. Between the luscious layers, you will find the biggest "hit" of the day. I stash cards that ask my guest any type of question, place Chinese fortune sticks that reads their good luck and lastly, a self stick mustache for each guest to wear (we had guests literally rolling with laughter, a guaranteed instant smile!), and a blank piece of paper where each guest will write his or her New Year's resolution.
These have been lifesaving conversation pieces that leave no one short on words. We go in order from bottom to top between each entree with the male host going first to get the ball rolling. We continue around the table between courses clockwise. This has led to in-depth group conversations and debates, many laughs, food for thought and the resolutions are not just inspiring but motivating as well. Guest are basically committing to their goals in front of a large audience. The catch is next year we will pull out the old resolutions and see who actually stuck to their commitment.
To add to the mix, I place many sets of salt and pepper shakers, pats of butter and butter knives on the same china, and different shades of glasses around the table for water, red and white wine. For ambiance, I add candles, light a fire, dim the lights and play Christmas music.
All of these elements speak volumes to your guests. Don't think for a second that your passion for entertaining and love of hosting will be forgotten. Continue to do what you do best and you will create magical and unforgettable moments that last a lifetime.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays,
Posted by Jamie Gottschall