It’s December — prime hosting time! Are you ready? Do you have your decorations? Your tableware polished? Do you have enough seating? Do you have a nice table or, if you’re not happy with your dining table, at least a nice tablecloth to cover your it?
There are so many considerations to take into account when hosting an elegant dinner party. At Smitty’s, we completely understand how important it is to make your guests feel comfortable in your home — and we know how tricky it can be to create an atmosphere of elegance.
To help navigate you this busy season, our team has put together some tips to get started with your party-planning, including decor suggestions, some elegant recipes, and a list of some of our favourite furniture pieces for your holiday wish list:
Decor Tips for An Elegant Dinner Party
Elegance is not as difficult to achieve as it may seem, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few tips that will help you get the perfect holiday look:
Use nature to decorate your table, mantle, countertop, and bathroom.
Clip (or purchase) cedar or pine branches and mix them with cut flowers, strands of berries, or decorative snowflakes. Place them as a centrepiece on your dining table, across your mantle or kitchen counter, and in a large vase in your bathroom.
Don’t be afraid to go big on the natural decor — it will make an elegant statement. You can also add sprigs and cranberry strands to your napkins or along the centre of each guest’s place setting (see image above).
Place votives along the centre of your dining table.
Nothing says elegance like candlelight. Adding shiny gold and silver votives with tea lights along the centre of your dining table, or around your centrepiece, will make your dining area look beautiful.
Make sure you don’t skimp out on the number of votives — we recommend 6-10 for a typical dining table. Ensure that people won’t have to reach over them and that they are placed a safe distance away from napkins, decorations, or other flammable materials.
Enhance your place setting.
If you want your table to look elegant and welcoming, make sure you place all the required flatware and dishes at each place setting.
Lay out your cutlery appropriately on each side of the plate setiings and across the top, and include salad forks, dessert forks, and dessert spoons. Ensure you place both water glasses and wine glasses at each setting — and include a champagne glass if you are toasting with some bubbly.
For an added touch of elegance, consider adding a charger plate under all your plates. A charger plate is essentially an oversized plate that isn’t used for plating food, but acts as a decorative item. Available in a wide range of colours, you can find a charger that will match your decor.
Elegant Recipes for Your Dinner Party
While not everyone is a Michelin-starred chef, we know that you want your dishes to look spectacular for your guests.
Here are a couple of recipes that look incredible and aren’t too tricky to pull off:
Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce
(Recipe Credit: Epicurious.com)
Cut 2 lemons in half and squeeze juice into a measuring glass or small bowl. You should have 1/4 cup juice. Set aside. Using a paring knife, cut ends off remaining lemon to expose flesh. Upend lemon on a cut end and remove peel and white pith from lemons, then discard. Cut between membranes to release segments into bowl with juice, squeeze membranes to get any last drops of juice. Fish out any seeds and set aside. Thinly slice chives and place in a small bowl, then set aside.
Pull side muscle off scallops, if needed pat dry. Season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet, preferably stainless steel, over medium-high. Pour in oil to lightly coat surface (2–3 Tbsp), heat until it shimmers and you see first wisps of smoke. Swiftly place scallops into skillet, flat side down, and cook without touching, tossing, or fussing until underside is a deep golden brown (3-4 minutes). Use a thin spatula or tongs to gently turn over. If they resist, cook another 30 seconds and try again. Cook on second side until flesh at top and bottom looks opaque, but there is still a faintly translucent strip in the middle (1–2 minutes, depending on size). Transfer scallops to a plate.
Pour off any oil in skillet and set over medium heat. Add butter and cook, swirling, until butter foams, then browns, about 2 minutes. Add reserved lemon juice and segments; energetically stir and swirl pan to emulsify sauce. Mix in capers and reserved chives and spoon pan sauce around and over scallops.
Riesling Gelée with Strawberry Conserve
(Recipe Credit: Foodandwine.com)
Make the gelée in a small saucepan. Combine the Riesling and sugar and bring to a low simmer over moderate heat, swirling gently until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cooled syrup and let soften for 5 minutes. Warm the syrup over moderate heat and stir to dissolve the gelatin, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly. Pour the gelée into 4 wine glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In a small bowl, gently stir the strawberries with the honey, sugar, lemon zest, and Riesling. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Spoon the strawberry conserve over the gelée and serve.
Holiday Wish List
If you’ve been coveting new furniture for your home, then we have the perfect items for your wish list this year:
For more inspiration, decoration advice, and help getting your home ready to host, come and visit Smitty’s. We’ll help you get ready and scratch gifts off your wish list!
Smittys Fine Furniture
January 20, 2020