We are all very lucky to have the people we love in our lives and sometimes it is nice to recognize and celebrate those relationships.
Last Sunday was Mother's day and my brother's and my birthdays were this week, so we had a joint celebration. My mom hosted the late lunch and also invited her dad and his girlfriend. My mom has always made kicking a family meal up a notch look effortless. She has cabinets of different serving dishes, silverware, table decorations, napkins, and a lot of creativity. So let's break down how she does it.
Have everybody bring something and you make the main course. Either have people volunteer for what they want or assign based on skill level. The menu for today's fiesta was:
- Grilled Salmon (The 'Rents)
- Rice Pilaf (The 'Rents)
- Grilled Asparagus (Me!)
- Salad (Sister Rose)
- Bread (Brother Nick)
- Cake (The 'Rents)
Always be on the lookout for cute serving ware, whether it be patterned napkins, dishes, silverware, votives, or placemats. It is great to have this stuff on hand. Imagine if you had beautiful cloth napkins that brought you joy every time got to bring them out for use. Unless you are having the same people over time and time again, nobody will even notice if you use the same decor, just change up how you use it. So make sure you at least have some staples.
- Clear votive candle holders (can be used for candles, as tiny vases, or to fill with desserts or nuts)
- Decorated votive candle holders with fresh flowers picked from the garden
- Woven place mats
- Water glasses and plates on the table
- Cute silverware, if you can, pick something a little more festive than your normal silver
- Try to fit any gifts into your decor
- Colorful, but solid napkins brighten the table and don't fight against any of the patterns
If you have having more people over than the usual, my mom likes to include place card holders to let everybody know where to sit. As a guest, you have a suspicion that the hosts have regular seats at their own table, but without place card holders they can't be confident choosing a seat. This also takes one thing off of your list of things to do as a host, ie, directing people where to sit.
The Guest List
Invite people you actually want to talk to in your house. Try to think, is there somebody I haven't seen for a while who I might want to include on the invite? Is this going to be a chill night or do you need to invite a party starter?
Before people even come, try to think about the flow you want the party to have. When are you going to do presents and cake and where? At mom's house, food is always served in the kitchen and then plates are brought to the table. Candles are at the table. Presents are at the table, but cake varies. Sunday was beautiful weather in Omaha, so cake was sliced in the kitchen and then everybody brought their slice and a cup of coffee out to the patio. Note, the coffee was made before dinner and was kept warm through dinner so nobody had to wait. It was absolutely perfect.
Anytime you go to my parents' house music greats you as you walk to the door. They have a speaker system that plays outside, in the garage and throughout the living spaces upstairs. They always have ethnic music playing. Imagine languages you don't know and a lot of tribal drums. Sunday's playlist included beautiful hits such as Moon River. It was a lovely change of pace. The great part about having the music flow throughout the house is that when the party moves outside, separate music doesn't have to be considered, it just follows you where you go.
Make sure to thank everybody for coming. Thank them for what they contributed to the meal or any host gifts they might have brought. Offer to let them take any leftovers home, if there is an abundance and they will go to waste in your fridge anyway.
One Final Word of Wisdom
You don't have to reserve your little party tricks for a full blown party. Feel free to put fresh flowers on the table for when you have a couple friend over or whip out the nice cloth napkins for when your siblings swing by for lunch.
I hope these tips help you out the next time you have people over to your home for a meal or maybe even inspire you to do so. Think about decorating your table like painting a picture. Move things around until it looks perfect. Bring nature inside, it's nice to have something living on the table. Include something unexpected, like a cool pattern. Last but not least, remember not to stress. The most important thing is that you are spending time with people you love, not that the meal goes completely how you had it imagined.
Now go out and conquer your next meal! What tip above are you going to incorporate into the next meal you host? I would love to know!
Today I am Grateful for:
- A wonderful Mother's Day/Birthday Lunch
- Meal Prep completely done
- The Farmer's Market
- Getting our balcony decorated