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The Sucessful Dinner Party
by: Kim LaBarbera
Easy Party "Fix - its"
What isn't right with this picture?
I used to serve delicious dinners with wonderful desserts; (yes, I had checked around and, they were wonderful.) However, I knew, that there was something missing. After I began working in Food Service, I had learned that it's the little things, that complete the big picture.

It's not so hard
For instance, the use of doilies placed on a dessert plate when serving a fine piece of cake. How about light colored napkins, plain, or with a gentle pattern? Did you know that people, generally feel that colored napkins, are more relaxing than white napkins? Especially pastel colors.

Wow, it is painless!
Here are some simple suggestions;
Chill your glasses about one half hour before your guests arrive.
You may want to use a carafe instead of a plain pitcher. There is less chance of spillage and, it takes up less room on the table. Speaking of spillage, wrap a napkin neatly around your wine bottle, covering the neck, so that it will catch the over pour.

Some quick appetizer ideas!
Did you know that a combination of finely chopped: garlic, fresh parsley, and mushrooms mixed with bread crumbs, butter,
and romano cheese, can quickly be stuffed into stemless mushrooms and baked at a low temperature until golden brown?
Okay, it's in the form of a (run on) sentence, but I am trying to prove a point...
How about some soft spread cream cheese with fresh lox, beaten for about a minute?
Serve it with bread sticks, or water crackers. It is usually better for a lunch buffet, but it will work in a pinch.
If it is important that you make a good impression, plan for "surprise" problems, otherwise, problems will pop up. I am a firm believer in Murphy's Law.

These are simple adjustments, but many people I have spoken with, complain that entertaining can cost alot of money. Well, I say no. Start out small and simple. What I mean is, invite people that you feel very comfortable with, i.e., people that you don't have to impress, and wont be talking to the others about your dinner, at the water cooler.

The small and simple of it.. When you replace dinnerware, do it one section at a time. Big hint! Change your wine glasses first, then replace your water and soda glasses. Wine glasses come first, because people generally feel that wine is more important than water and soda, because it is more expensive. Remember, people see your glasses first, when approaching the dinner table. They will feel confident in the meal that you prepare when they see sparkling new glasses.

For the long run
When you can further update you dinnerware, change your eating utensils. These step by step changes do not have to be expensive, they can be the price of your regular dishware. The secret is not to use them every day. You will always have that that clean, finished look, right on hand. To add a professional appearance to your dinner table, spruce up the place settings and server ware. Salad bowls that are made of new wood, (crystal is always preferred) make your guests feel important, because you put alot of thought into the salad. Sparkling clean serving trays, make a big difference. Don't forget that you can dress anything up, by lining it with a cloth napkin.

Place mats made of a wicker or cloth material are very nice. Don't forget coasters, if you decide not to use a light colored table cloth (dark colored table cloths really only work in Italian restaurants).

As for a center piece, fresh cut flowers in a nicely decorated vase, are always good. However, the vase has to be taken out of the room when it is time to serve the meal, because the fragrance will distract the palate.

This is very important to remember: When serving food, do not choose quality over quantity. There is nothing worse than trying to impress someone and just when you've pulled it off, you run out of food. Don't get me wrong, make sure the food is impressive enough and has quality taste, but also make sure there is enough of it. Your guests may try to comfort you and say that it's alright, if you run out of food, but it's not,
i.e. make your guests want to come back.

About the author:
Article written by Kim LaBarbera
She has worked in the food service
industry for twenty years, including Craft Service. Her selection of desserts and coffee can be found at:

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