Welcome to Elegant Entertaining Experience
The most generous thing you can do is open your home up and invite guests in. The common sense advice you will find here will help make it a stress free and elegant entertaining experience for you and your guests.
How to say Hello
Even a casual meal for very close friends has a protocol.
Protocol is such a feared word. Some people associate it strict rules and regulations of how to act or speak. Well in military and diplomatic situations; yes. In private social situations it is simply a mix of good manners and common sense.
We are going start right at the front door with the etiquette of greeting guests. This may sound trivial but it is just one of those many little details that will differentiate you as a wonderful host.
Greeting guests graciously is a mark of respect and reveals a lot about your character. When you hear the doorbell ring heralding the arrival of your guests, take a deep breath and smile. Whether it’s your first time and you are nervous or you are very experienced the very best way to relax your guests is to be relaxed yourself. The more you have things under control in the kitchen the more relaxed you will be.
What will your guests encounter at your front door before they even ring the doorbell?
Have your area around your front door swept clean of any dust, leaves or any other debris and check there are no cobwebs up in the corners of the eaves. Dust your front door and polish the door knob. Is there a pot plant by the door that is half dead? If so, get rid of it. It is a bad look. You want your home to give off vibrations of healthy abundance and of serene order. Make sure your doorbell works, clean the light fittings. Give your home a true welcoming feel.
Some of the world’s most gracious hostesses have produced glorious books on how they run their homes and how they entertain. Learn from these empresses of elegance. There is a wonderful selection of some of these gorgeous books right here. They are all on sale at Amazon and would make truly wonderful gifts as well as to form your own reference library of top class style.
A Passion for Blue and White is a breathtakingly beautiful book.
They have all become classics and even if you can only afford to buy one every couple of months you will be doing yourself a favour. Buy them to enhance your knowledge on the art of entertaining and decor.
Her latest beautiful offering is A Passion for Interiors: A Private Tour
It may seem I am excessively favouring Carolyne Roehm when there are so many other magnificent books and legendary hostesses to feature here. That is very true but the attention to detail combined with serene order and an occassional touch of whimsy all bound by a common sense practicality is the essence of the elegant entertaining experience. Some of those other iconic doyennes of refinement have produced equally beautiful books. Browse through them here at the carousel below.
Just as you have no doubt prepared the house for company you must also prepare your entrance area. Arrange a designated space for coats and bags. If you have a spacious home then allocate a cupboard specifically for this purpose. If you lack space allocate your own bedroom, clean and fresh of course. This shows the guests you respect their items as if they were your own and not relegated to the laundry room to be tossed over the washing machine like the dirty linen.
Once that door is opened do not blurt out anything about how hectic your day has been. Even if it is your very best friend at the door and you can yell out to them to just come in; don’t. Make the time to show this person matters to you. A warm smile and firm handshake or hug is meaningful.
Try to always greet your guests in person. It is a lovely gesture when another guest greets them for you, allowing you time to finish your sauce or whatever; but get to them as soon as possible. Even the most seasoned pros at entertaining feel anxious about the timing of the soufflé or the texture of the sauce, they just never show it. It is very bad form to greet your guests holding your drink. Put whatever you have in your hands down and devote a moment to your guest.
The continental style kiss greeting of two kisses, one on each cheek is the way I greet my guests and it is becoming more popular.
The reason we give two?
Because Judas gave one.
Air kisses, so derided in some cultures as being contrived, are perfectly acceptable and often preferable. If a lady has taken care with her makeup and does not wish to smear it all over you but still wishes to express her affection, then a kiss without actually kissing, the air kiss is very polite. It is not to be ridiculed.
No raunchy rubbing! You are welcoming people into your home not conducting an orgy. And even if you were, greet your guests in a refined manner. Whatever happens later is your business.
Have the drinks tray ready so you have something to offer them quickly. If it is a bigger function than you normally host then you may consider have pre-poured glasses of champagne and sparkling water on hand the way the high society hostesses do. If a guest offers to be drinks waiter so much the better, they feel included in the evening and you can get on with your task at hand which is to honour your guests and make sure they leave happier than they arrived.
Be prepared to receive any gifts. Many of your guests may have brought along a gift of a bottle of wine, a bunch of flowers or even an addition to the menu such as a salad or a sweet. Some of these bring-a-longs are prearranged as good friends often call to offer assistance but many are impromptu tokens of gratitude for the invitation.
Old school etiquette declared it bad form to bring along flowers to the function. It meant the hosts would have to run around to find vases, fill them with water blah, blah. The correct thing to have done was to send flowers the next day. That is all good and well if you are visiting royalty but I say a gift is a gift and be grateful.
It is a sad day when we go out of our way to make a person feel uncomfortable just because they wanted to offer appreciation for an invitation. All because they read it somewhere in some outdated book on manners. Don’t stand there looking left and right for a vase to materialise out of the ether pretending it is an imposition. Have vases at the ready and give heartfelt thanks.
Before any guests arrive be aware this is a distinct possibility and have a clear mental picture of where you will place such items. If you have done a themed party and the gift doesn’t fit in perhaps a shelf in the pantry can house it for now. If you love the idea of a themed party but do not know where to begin looking for ideas try looking at
this site for well priced ideas. Once you have greeted your guests, unless they are very well known to you and know everybody present, you now must settle them in.
Introductions are important. The old fashioned rules of etiquette are very definite and in this matter they can be followed. Introduce up; younger to older, rookie to expert and always man to woman. Today things are more relaxed but I like using the traditional ways as a guide line. Manners do matter.
I am a strong believer that a guest must sing for their supper. A transaction is taking place here. No one forced you to tag along. You accepted an invitation into someone’s home, to eat their food and drink their wine. In return you too should offer something and by that I don’t mean you need to bring a gift. The host has taken on responsibility for your well being for the next few hours. Guests too must accept a little responsibility and contribute something towards the evening. If you are not a natural story teller and lack spontaneous wit then be a good listener. Be interested in the other guests and offer your hosts whatever help you can. Don’t be one of the brooding sourpusses that sulk in a corner.