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10 Party Planning

rand Desig n or Simple Style?

A clear picture of the party style and

size is the )ecrel or )ucLess every ti"ne.

Who's vvho?

Before planning venues, invitatiorrs,

a gathering for six or sixty, under-fives

settings, entertainment and food and

or over-fifties, family or friends, best

Start with an outline guest plan: is this

drink, decide on exactly the right type

buddies or business associates? lf you

of party. Energy and enthusiasm

are inviting a complete mix of family,


essential for getting things moving, but


a proper plan would be a sensib e

is best to sort out guidel nes


riends, colleagues and neighbours,

which to plan before ideas snowball

starting point. ldentify the different

and practicalities are forgotten n an

types and ages; by fitting individuals

initial wave of excitement.

There are established routines and

nto groups you will be sure to inc ude

something for everyone. This eases the

etiquette for many occasions and

utilizing these is often sens ble. They

ro e

range from formal dinner parties,

society drinks gatherings or balls to

couples - or worse - individuals driftlng

about on the fringes of the party.

weddings, anniversaries and seasonal

gatherings. There are also just as many

Time of day

small or substantiatly la.qe gatl-er rg5

The party may be to celebrate a

Above Summer barbecues can be

that are organized for no particular

marriage, baby naming or christening,

day or early evening social event5.

reason other than meetinq up and

of host or

hostess, which can

nvolve looking after small groups or

socializing, for example overcom ng

or lt may be a social event. lt may not

be a particularly jolly occasion, for

winter blues. making the most of the

example a post-funeral wake. Double

relationship between guests before

summer sun or catchinq up with a

check arrangements that cannot be

rhdnged 'aler, lor exar]p,e timin95

frxrng times. A two-phase celebration

for ceremonies, photography or

would typically comprise a formal meal,

performances and estimated travelling

low-key lunch or early evening drinks

t me between event and party venue.

party followed by a lively gathering

group of friends.
Below An attractive buffet table with
plates and napkins piled high.

Consider the different ages of, or

is popular for very different groups; it

later for younger guests or close

fr ends. This solution works as well for

rt[o,mal otcasions a l'ou.e warn.rg,

open house for a summer barbecue or
an annual family




weddings. Plan the transition between

day and evening, and decide whether
those invited to the first part of the
party will also stay late.

Fornai gatnerings to. ea.ly ever,ng

drinks preceding a late supper for a

few friends or pre-lunch gatherings

'nusr bp well orchestrated. llvirations
should indicate the time when guests

are expected to leave: "Pre-dinner

drnks between 6 p.m. and 7.30 p.m."

A verbal or informal note to join family
or weekend guests for "a drink before

lunch" should include the expected

time of arjval and departure. Be clear
to avoid any confusion.

Party Planning


Smarten up or
dress dorrvn?
Once you know whom and when,
make a decis on on how you want your
guests to dress and behave, and follow
this through in inv tat ons, food and

enterta nment. Be clear on nvitarions

if you expect formal dress (wh te t e

and bal gowns; black tre, tuxedo and

evening wear; morning wear, or top
hats and tails, and hats), lounge suits or
smart daywear. You will not need to

stiprlate dress for an nforma' occasior'.

lndicate any special requirements, such
as swimm ng th ngs and towels for

poo side parlres, sun hats and p cnic

blankets to sit on, and sweaters or
shawls for even ngs outdoors.

Before and after


Above Add romantic touches to a

occas on and variab e prices

table dressed in white for a wedding.

increase with the number of guests

refreshments in particu ar

Guests may need accommodation for

For arge gatherings, check the oca

the night before and/or after the party.

After a ong journey, house guests will

hoteLs and provide guests

with details

that the venue s ze may change { the

guest isr grows too o1g. Spreading
the cost by paying for some items, such

usually want to arrive early enough to

of price, locat on and availabllity when

freshen up. lnclude the preparation


of guests' rooms in your plans and

breakfast on the morn ng after the

pa.tly n advance

party and make flexible arrangements.

an overstretched budget, especially

trmings, re'ne'nber,ng the I trle


out nvitations.

as wine, spir ts or beer, completely or


- flowers,

magazines, drinks,

biscu ts (cookies) or chocolates, as well

As each name is added to the guest

ist and every idea mul ed and jotted

Below Simple

Keepinq a few disposable, trave -

bear in m nd the cost. Decide on the

type of party to suit the funds avaiiable,

toothbrushes, toothpaste, small

packs of ant -perspirant and bottles

then work out a realistic budget in

a good idea

for party guests who stay unexpectediy.

Pay attention

to detail when

entertaining youngsters, espec ally

more deta I before progressing from


to plan. This


just as important

for smal1, informaL events as for oncein-a-llfetime occasions f you want to

avoid overspending.

if they may be too shy to ask for

Soning an orrlire budget at this

forgotten essent als. For a special

stage s essential and easy: make a list

occasion sLeepover you could prepare

of every aspect of the party, adding


eepover packs rncluding novelty


cks, drinks and bright

decorations are good basics for a party.

size miniatures, or spare small

one way or easrng

Party pri(e

as towels, soap, shampoo and tlssues.

of moisturizer n stock


when planning a party at home.

that rnake people feel weLcome and



realistic (generous rather than rnean)

toothbrushes, f ruit-f lavoured

cost and contacting supp iers to check

toothpaste, wacky toiletries, expanding

special pr ce>. For exrravagdll. oc(asrols

face cloths. reading materlal such as

irvo v ng l-oLel>, venJes, cdrerers.

comlcs, mini torches, tasty midnight

entertainers and so on, make specific

snacks and fruit, and sma I packs of

enquir es at this f rst stage. Divide the

drinks or bottles of water.

costs into fixed amounts for the


Parly Planning

Have List, Wi ll Organ ize

dinner parties and drlnks parties are
good Friday affairs, as are after-theatre
or post-exhibition suppers.
Weekends are popular for group
events for families and for activity club

qet-togethers or excursions. While

weekend brunches are general y great
for those without young children,
Saturday brunch can also start famrly
activities on a high note and the



a good choice for

children's partres. lf Saturday lunch

is diff icult for working hosts and

guests who have to juqqle family

commitments, the evening is good


Lists are essential when planning for a

Above Make lsts for organizing all

Above Champagne

special occasion. Suggesting that there

aspects of party planning.

at weddings and formal occasions.


generally served

should be a system for making them

may sound like overkill, but even the
most super-efficient llsts can become


off guests' names

as replies come

n. Start with a list of the usual

so mo11 ed wilh addirions .hdl tl-ey

requirements for different occasions

become uninterpretable. The answer

and then personalize it to your style.


to have separate


with different

information. Using a computer or

Which day?

spiral-bound notepad is bril iant for

Work functions are best from midweek

keeping lists on separate pages but

together in one place. Jot the date on

onwards. Friday can be a good day for

unch or an evening party if partners

each page and include notes of

are invited; Wednesday or Thursday are

discussions with suppliers, orders

more convenient for "colleague on y"

placed and ideas. as well as the guest

events (especially if there

list, special requirements, shopping and

comparatively early f inish).

so on. Using this system,


s easy



be a

Weekday dinner parlies can be

flip through to check detarl, and t is

a good idea to flag significant pages

nconvenient, but midweek evenings

can be a good choice for drinks

you refer to frequently, such as the

invitatlon list where you wil tick or

to end early. Relaxed and informal

gatherings or supper parties desrgned

Below Ore-pot feasts, such






supper pdrties.

Party Planning 13

Schedule checks
Below are items to add to the
schedule according to the needs o{

the occasion, placing each against

a date when it has to be done.

Formalities: legal/paperwork
requirements, bookinq all
off icials, confirmation

Venue: viewing, booking,

and confirmation, checking

facilities, preparation

Entertainment: booking, venue

preparation/layout requi rements,
details of repertoire

Accommodation: source details


large and/or formal dinner parties.

Above A stylishly dressed table for a




S;turday s popular for weddings,

Than ksgivi

, owlng time for guests to travel;

:-lday is ideal when the marriaqe

for extravagant affairs. Timing often

numbers, caterer's advance v sit

.vrtlessed by a srral number o{

-:iations and followed by a party

depends on the book ng requirements

Special catering: special d ets,

of venues and officia s; check these

'cr friends and


careful y. Find out about caterers,

Food preparation: ordering,

booking, menu decisions and/or

ng celebration.

tasting session, confirmation of

inalizing details of presentation

Sunday lunch ls extremely versatile:

entertainment and transport, and

shopping, key dates for advance

: allows plenty of time for preparation

check the avai abi ity of all related

cooking, days for final preparation


aspects before booking the ma n evenl

is suitable for informal or smart

:'rangements for family, couples,

.rgles or a m xture.

they are all possible. Then draw up the

Parties and celebratlons for clubs


Put dates to the lists and check that

out ine schedule

the master gu de to

Bar: delivery/collection of drinks

and glasses, return of items

Professional help at home:
gardening, cleaning, kitchen help

sourcing, booking, confirm ng and

(before or after), butlet wa ting

:ay and time when the meetings are

-ormal y held. Annual dinners tend to

checking every aspect of the

staff, bar staff

celebrat on. Schedule key dates for

Flowers; booking, venue visit


everything. Adding mlnor aspects may

and desrgn liaison

)eem pr(ky, partrcu arly wl^en coping

Guest list: invitations out, give

with a big party, but they can easily

a date for replies back

classes are usually planned for the

organized {or Friday or Saturday

:ienings, depending on the work

:ommitments of members.


{orgotten later. Use a familiar means

Schedul ing an


of ayout, if posslb e,



a year


p anner, kitchen calendar, chart on a

noticeboard or computer program.

sts should include all the details,

.'rhereas a schedule will set dates

and deadlines for the tasks. Draw up a

Scrutinize your schedule for

bottlenecks and potential problems.

"'raster schedule of key dates, tasks and

lf too many tasks coincide make

'em nders with references back to the

ahernative drralge'renrs by'nov

lsts for deta ls where necessary. Lists

jobs to different dates or delegate

can then be updated as time passes.

them to helpers. When you are happy

A few months may be enough time

or organizing srmp e weddings but

one to two years is usually allowed


that you have not missed anything,

make sure the schedule looks neat,

tidy and is easy to follow.

Gifts: buy, pack

14 Party Planning

Choosing a Venue
The occasion, type and size of party,

budget, convenience and availability

a I influence the cholce of venue.

Home options
Entertaining at home can be nylish if


s srilab e spar e. Wn le c lear nq

furniture to the edges of one or two

small rooms and letting everyone sp


into the hall or lobby and kiichen may

be fine for an informal party, it is not
necessarily the answer for a special
ce ebration. Unless there is ample


and table space, plus kitchen faci it es

sufficient to cater for a sit-down meal, a

bLiet is'nost

praciical. Wher servirg

fork buffet, remember that some

guests may prefer to sit down to eat.

When finger buffets or snacks are

serued, guests do not need so much
space, especlally if the refreshments
are handed around.

Make use of outdoor areas and

consider hiring an awning or marquee.
Tables. chairs and barbecues can be

arranged on firm areas; rugs and

cushlons can be laid on lawns. Be
prepared for poor weather and
consider erecting large umbrellas.

Below With attention to detail, dressing

Hotels and restaurants

Ahove Put extra tables on patios and

a table at home can be very elegant.

Select a venue by recommendation,

in courtyards for hame entertaining.

reputation and persona experience f

possible. Vlsit the restaurant for a rnea
to d))ess geleral qual lV and amb err e.

. What types of menus are offered

dno dl wnaT prire pe' head? What

When comparing establ shments,

included ln the price per head? Are

prepare a standard checklrst and do

children s portions provided at reduced

not be embarrassed to make notes

cost (prudent when a wedding guest

whi e you are there. The follow ng

list ncludes many children)?

are points to consider:

special functions, or are outside

How many guests can be catered for

Do the regular kitchen staff prepare

and rn which room/bar Check the

caterers or temporary chefs employed?

maximum number of covers usua ly

catered for; point out, if necessary, that

. Check wine ists and bar pr ces. Ask

whether you will be able to supply your

you do not want their capabilit es to be

own w ne or champagne and what

overstretched. Will a bar adjorn ng a

corkage charge is applied?

function room be exclusively for the

. Cleck arrangemer.s

[or over>eeing

will it also be open

the smooth runnlng of the occasion

to the public? Check bar closing times.

dnd wlether a rdster of (eremontes

use of your parry or


: 3va lable. Ask about the su tab lity of

--:;ces'or speecl^e' o' f "npl [', a ror
:rJrpment is avai able.

accommodation may even be provided

c check accommodat on, assess the

to check include:

- oe aqd ype o{ roo''ns ard p'..e



room/person, with or w thout

:':akfast. Ask if favourab e rates w

:: offered for a block booking.

. foes the business have existing

:r enterta ners? At what time



n some c ubs. Less expens ve venues




th s lnc uded in the cost?).

ght ng and how it can be adapted

mprove the amb ence.

Kitchen facil t es for food preparat on

and storage, heating and c ear ng up.

Tables and


check how many

:. enLng must music end? Are there

::r:icular florists who know the

there are, the table slzes and make sure

they provlde enough space for the

Above Brighten up hired tables with

number of guests

table linen and ribbons.


/restaurant? Simi arly, there may


are economical for self-catering. Po nts

in the


:: a usefu nk with photographers


allowed, entertainment perm ts.

accommodated and access requ red


for erect on. Erected sample marquees

are fam liar

with the setting.

. s the venue eas ly access

:' rar ? s there ample park

ble by car

Bar fac I ti-"s and whether alcoho is

C oakroom faci ities.

C ean ng and preparation of venue

w I the space be clear and

c ean? How

or a portfo io of examples should be

availab e. Check the ining is intact, the

Hired hall or rooms

far in advance wil you have access for

'oo t"q

:ommun ty, sports, arts, soc al and

: groL) venJe. o'ten have 'ooms
':' h re. Some may have links with

sett ng out tables, decorat ng the

for power, heating and lighting.

:aierers, entertainers and dressers to

completed on the evening or next day?

lepare the venue (and you may be

:c iged to use bar facil ties or caterers);

Marquee hire

spo'1 r g o'

Th s may be a practical so ution to

Below Always visit hotel ar restaurant

ga n ng a l-weather space f you have

occas ons, such as the serving of sty ish

.,erues to check the space and facilittes

d drge. a oaroel Hre(orroar

car-boot (-trunk) hampers, or candle it

cefore you book.

provide qu dance on size, numbers

s so


.^d the e s o'ov 5io1

space, laying out {ood7 Clear ng up



- wi I th s have to b-"

These may be informa and fun, or



o lof,

soc al occasions attached to




a1d et qJe te for s61


p cn cs n a country-house garden

When obtaining tickets for events,

check deta s of times and facil ties,

parking (and distance from picnic area),

dress and conduct code.

Parties afloat
Boats range frorn f oating Testaurants

and bars to those with facrl tres for

extens ve parties. Smalier vesse s can be
hired f or small groups with or w thout
professrona staff, and entertaining up

to a dozen fr ends wlth

a champagne

unch or early supper is fun. Check

that the company r g dly app

safety regulations



n doubt seek

advice from re evant locaL author t es.

Inspect the vessel's facil tles thoroughly.
Check the duration and route of the
trlp and access and park r.lg at or

transport to the po nt of departure.

16 Party Planning

By lnvitation Only
Common sense and consideration are
of etiquette apply to formal invitations

The right time

. Breakfast may be arranged from

vrtalfor informal invitatiols while rules

Cocktails and drinks are served

from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A note can sometimes follow informal

early until mid-morning.

verbal invitations or a telephone call of

/.JU p.m. untrl E.JU p.m., wttn

confirmation a couple of days in



typically when organizing

dinner parties with f riends. The timing

Coffee mornings are usually

Dinner is usually served from

invitations requesting the arrival


Brunch can be planned for any

time from mid-morning to early

of guests about 30 minutes

beforehand for pre-dinner drinks.

"At home"

indicates a period of

for sending out informal nvitations

lunch, between usual breakfast

depends entirely on how busy and

and lunch times.

trme during which guests may arive

flexible everyone

Lunch is usually arranged at

12.30 p.m. or 1 p.m. but invitatrons

and depart. This is informal and

lnvitation information

may be for an early or late lunch.

and refreshments rather than

It may seem like a statement of the

Afternoon tea invitations are often

scheduled for 3 p.m. or slightly later.

substantial or formal meal.

Children's tea usually follows the end

and particularly informal version of


obvious but it is surprisingly easy to

miss details or

to include incorrect or

usually includes light nibbles

"Open house" is the contemporary

con'licting dates and days. lnvitations

of afternoon school. usually about

"At home", often extending from

need to include the following:

4 p.m.

lunch (or mid-morning brunch)

through to the evening and intended

Guesr name5, wiLh corre(t titles.

Host and/or hostess names.

evening, indicating a light menu

for a mix o{ families, friends and

Occasion or reason for party.

rather than dinner.

colleagues of all ages.


Supper is often early or late

Day and date.

to indicate a period of about 30 minutes may include the expected duration of

Trme: this may be approximate


precise. Before a formal meal, it is

during which guests are

(within the first 15 minutes). The

the gathering or a time when an


Below Simple themes work best

will end

making your own




expressed as "carriages

" on formal dinner


(repondez s'il vous



please), sometimes with a date, is a

polite way of reminding guests that

a reply is required.

Address. telephone and other contact

details for replying.

Dress code and any other

information: white tie indicating wing

collars, white ties and tails {or men, bal

gowns for women; black tie and dinner

jacket (tuxedo) is standard evening
wear for men, when women may wear
long or short dresses. Notes on a party
theme or other special dress
requirements should be included.

Formal invitations
Written requests for the company of
guests at a notable occasion are sent at
least a month in advance. This is typical

of celebrations, such as weddings, when

four to six weeks' notice is practical.
(Key guests should be aware of the
date well in advance.) Parties organized

around public events may be arranged

three to six months in advance.

Party Planning 17







'1,1;:.;|..:bove Stationery for formal


- aes in many different styles.

preferring to use the r first name, and

Above Good quality paper and stmple

women may reta n their own family

decorations make pretty invitatians.

name after marriage, choosing the t t e


Ms ^sleao of

n terms of co our and graphics, ready-

a venue,

Mrss or Mr). Addressrig

unmarried couples as "Mr and Mrs" is

printed paper, cards and matching

-:-'rm with supp

iers and make sure

usually unacceptable to them and both

enve opes can be used as a base for

-. iat


names should be used.

p ain bLack pr nting.

--. lf e required date.

lnventive invitations

are by no means essent a , as ready-

Dress the message up accord ng to the

The right title

type of party. Concentrate on sty e and

pr nted party stat onery s ava lable

from qual ty stationers and genera

T1e closirg date for

-rbers when book ng

ons are sent



n good t me

crder for replies to be returned

- rCresslng guests by an ncorrect tit

-:y cause of{ence. check with the

qual ty for


inv tations, from heavy

f at cards with { ne letter ng and

na y, creative f air and techno ogy

stores. Neat handwrit ng is al that


required to add individual deta ls.

- luseholds or offices o{ those rn pub ic

discreet decorative edging to bright

-' offic al roles. There

fo ded cards that may be fun but fall

Below For farmal occasions, take care

short of becoming garish.



deta llng

are reference

al contemporary


:':ditiona ly correct Jorms of address

:-d greeting, ncluding academ c

When using profess onal designers

rJal ficat ons, re gious orders and

and pr nters ask to see samples and

prices per quantity and remember that

: rsit ons, m litary ranks, t t ed persons



may be more convenient and more

those of any office requiring

Irel LsLa'eoertoire

-:cogn tion. when in doubt about how

successful than asking them to create

:cquaintances and relatives prefer to

something different and compl cated.

:e addressed, check with them, f

:oss b e. Otherwise, close famiy or

call graphy can be used to make


ends may be able to advise.

Trad tiona ly, a married woman takes

-ne name or initia s

of her husband

Craft techn ques, art ski ls or

invitat ons and party stationery. lnvolve
the children when preparing fun
invitations for junror events.
A persona computer can be used

.rhen addressed singly or as a couple,

'or examp e


and Mrs lohn Smith,

vlrs John Sm th or lvlrs J. Sm th.

-lowever, some object to this,


des gn and pr nt stationery to

professiona standards. lf the printer is

not I ke y to deliver the requrred quality

use rhe


ttltes [ar guests.

8 Party Planning

Equipment and Materials Lists


Large itelYrs

ists of all equ pment needed at

lhe oJtsel lo be 5L.e -hal ave./trt1g

Tab es and charrs are usua

is readily availab e, budgeted and

ln the hire fee for hal s. Check numbers


nc uded

scheduled. This app ies when

and condition when book ng, mak ng

entertaining at home, part cu ar y

for se f-catering. When caterers are

sure that they

comm ss oned they w ll usua ly source

usual y poss b e to utilrze or borrow

a I equ pment related


stand securely when

opened. For parties at home, t

to prepar ng and

serv ng the food, often inc ud ng tab es

and chairs. lf you have part cu ar ideas

et them be known in advance



spare household or garden tab es, but

cha rs can be more of a problem H ring

folding or stack ng plastic cha rs may

be the answer.
Ren enbe' prolect vp'loor cove'rrgs
lor pale or precious carpets, espec al y

Buying or hiring?
rrr ro r, o'to1 the or y p.actiLd, opt 01
for large celebrations. However, if you

.-, j.


regularly entertain medrum-stze

when planning an indoor-outdoor

party w th guests of a I ages. Spec al st
non-sl p cover ngs can be usefu n

gatherrngs at home, jt may be worth

Above Table linen, napkins and

buyrng a basic k t. For examp e, good

glassware can all be hired.

haliways or over areas of carpet by

the patio or French doors.

and dishrvashersafe standard cutlery

d shes that can be stacked in the d sh

pdrty', con< dFr l- I 19 ld ge gds o-

are often avaiiab e from factory outlets.

washer rather than spending a most as

much on d sposable ware that wil be

charcoal barbecues from caterers'

qua ity white china, p ain glassware

Plain whire

When planning a large barbecue

lat sheets are an alternat ve

suppl ers. They wi I make cooklng

to table linen and perfectly presentable

LSed.rsl o1(e

when dressed up for the occas on. For

lnformal, family and chi dren s part es it

covered, storage boxes at the same

time so that "the kit" can be packed

barbecue. Outdoor gas heaters can

worth buying rigid plast c plates and

away afterwards for use next time.

also be hired.



oLt sla(, do


ots of food easier than coping on

the minimum of space on the home

le+t Plain white linen napkins can be

decorated with fresh flowers.

Below Make sure the barbecue

is large

enough to cater far all yaur guests.


- -




- tF *f",r:8, r,,.
---- F:
-?- [',**"
: ibl

Party Planning 19

Check availability of enterta nment

=:u pment, such as inflatable play

::^ires or borncy castles, wher f,xrng


pafty date, to avoid disappo ntment.

-s< if the equipment wil be assembled

:- nflated on delivery or left for you to


in which case make sure the

-:cessary tools are also provided.

Food preparation and

serving equipment

hire special sts provide

=,ery,thing from d sposable tems to

-arched table inen and napkins,


na and cutlery and serv ng

:ru pment,

inc uding folding tables


chairs. When mak ng your ists,

Above Champagne flutes, ice buckets

Above Brght streamers and party


requlrements by category and then

and uueLs Lan all be hircd for parties.

hooters jazz up a birthday party table.

:-eck outstanding queries with the hire

'3re. Count

and check equiprnent

,,.ren taking del very to make sure that

s all c ean, present and undamag-"d.


is anything dirty, missing or

Cook 19 pd1s, lrays ard d sl-es

Tab e decorat ons, separated into

make sure your oven and hobs

fresh or silk f owers and others, such

(stovetop) are large enough for them.

as coloured strings, confetti, candles,


Coffee makers and water boilers.

party poppers, whist es, bubb es, table

Servilg bowls, t'ay: ard d >l e:

crackers, indoor spark ers and other

:amaged, et the company know

rmediately otherwise you may be

compare the cost of high-qual ty

mini ndoor fireworks.

^eld responsible and charged for the

d sposable items with hire charges.

::oblem at the end of the hire period.

'.lost of the fo lowing tems can be


menu, remembering cruets and

to take away and party-qame pr zes.

:asi y h red:

sauceboats, if necessary, and cups, pots



make a I st from the

Ba loons or ba loon decorat ons.

Guest gifts or ch ldrenb goodre bags

Small cake boxes.

and spoons for coffee. Water jugs

Below Check in advance that yau have

(pitchers) and glasses may be ncluded

Below Children love brightly coloured

atl the cooking equipment you need.

with table crockery.

goodie bags to take home.

Glassware may be hired or borrowed

free of charge from wrne suppliers or



- this may

All the trimmings



al the

decorative tr mmlngs and

f n shing touches:

Room decorations and streamers;

garden decorations.

Plants and/or decorat ons for pat o

and garden.


Table liren, rapk,r-s and crtlery.

plus serving cutlery.

- -,\

include spirit

and beer g asses.

Decorat ve indoor or outdoor

lighring; cardles or ga'der flares.

Outdoor f ireworks.



20 Party Planning

Table Etiquette, Settings and Style

For formal occasions the host and

hostess take their places at the ends

of the table, with the most important

male and female guests on their right
(female to host. male to hostess). The

remaining guests are seated in order

of rank alternating male and female.

:= '.. 't:!

When there is a master or top table,


the most important quests take centre


place. This arrangement is adopted for

weddings. with the bride and groom

in the middle, flanked by their parents

and in-laws, with chief bridesmaid and

best man at the ends.
Couples are usually seated opposite
each other, the idea being that
conversation flows around the table,

not across it. When the numbers of

men and women are equal, they are
seated alternately around the table.
Seat people who are likely to have


Use tradftional etiquette to avoid

placed on either

something in common next to each

confusion: cutlery


side of the plates in order of courses.

t is conside'ate ro avord pairing


indlviduals whose opinions clash

. Working from the right,

dramatically. When placlng guests

among several tables, try to achieve

compat ble but interesting mix on each

Above Make sure there is ample elbowroom bciilcen each table setling.

side knife tor ihe [irst cour5e, la'9e

table. When there are children at

knife for the main course and dessert

formal occasions, it is sensible to put

spoon. Working in from the left, lay the

them on tables near the entrance, for

fish fork or small fork for first course,

easy cloakroom access. Guests


babies or small chrldren may need

space for prams or high chairs.

Below Coloured rnodern cutlery mixed

wiLh clegant antique silver pieces.

lay the bread

knife, soup spoon. fish kni{e or small


sure the writing on place

fork for main course and dessert fork.

For slightly less formal arrangements,

the dessertspoon and fork may be laid

across the top of the setting. spoon at

cards is large enough to be legible by

the top (on the outside), with rts handle

guests as they walk around the table.

to the right and fork below (on the

Display a seating plan on a board near

in>ide), with its handle to the lef l.

the entrance to dining areas at large

formal gatherings.

lobster pick or escargot tongs, may be

Forrrral table settings

The cheese knife may be laid across the

The simple rule for formal settings ls to

lay cutlery for opening courses on the

top, below the dessertspoon and {ork.

. Arrange glasses at the top right

outside, starting from the right, and

above the setting in the order in which

work in towards the plate.

they are used. lnclude a water goblet

Cheese knives and tools, such as a

brought in with the appropriate course.

Use a large d nner plate

to check the

or glass. white and red wine glasses.

space for each setting and leave plenty


butter dishes evenly around the tabl-".

bow-roon between settinqs.

Distribute serving cutlery, cruets and

Party Planning


Go for graphic I nes and clean textures

on table decorations, including any

flowers and cand


Base platters that remain in position

urder plates lor i.5r cou.se and 'nair

course look attractive. They should
be significantly arger than, and

comfortab y hold, the main-course

plate so that lt does not rattle. Glass,
metal, wood or china in bo d colours

look especially dramatic under white or

black plates. Match napkins to the base
p atter, arranging them on top as part

of the setting.

Above Cheyrons


just one way


'trding linen napkins.

Fun and lively

Above A wide selection of novelty

Strew the tab e with streamers and fun

items is available for children's parties.

decorations rn caref ully coordinated

Below Cutlery can be bound together

colours. Bold flower petals and

-c add interest to an empty bowl.

sJCcJ ent leaves make a

Mix and match

crarge "orr

timately, the best parties and meals

the usua floral decorations. Crystals,

are those where good food and

beads and giass baubles can be used

enrerrai^ing corpany are sha.ed i1

to good effect ln centrepieces or corner

a relaxed atmosphere.

decorations. Use ow or very tall

candles to create pools

of ight.

Mixing and match ng food, table


sure they do not block the view. Add

style and room setting can result in a

wonderfully eclectic party. There is no

crackers and rndoor table fireworks for

reason why all the china, glassware,

live y interva s between courses.

cutlery and I nen should match; picking

Below Outdoor entertaining can be

wil transform

formal and stylish.

equ pment into a lively style.

out one colour to use for decorat ons

Contemporary style
tlaunt convent on to make a design
statement. The civillzed rule when

:xplor ng ''rew Ldble-laytlg ter.itory

to be practical and avoid confusing

diners or causing embarrassment. lf the

cut ery is not laid in conventiona
positions it should be clear for which
course it is intended. Bread knives can
be laid on side p ates, cutlery for the

first course can be laid on a base

platter with a napkin or brought

with the food, leaving the ma n course

cutlery on the table. For a stark effect
leave the tab e bare, lay ng starched

linen rao, ns at each place ano br

out cutlery as courses are served.


a complete muddle of

22 Party

Pla n n


Presentation and Buffets

Ref ect the style in atmosphere and

preselrar or, ' orr the frst impre<stor

on erte'ing the house to the lrrger ng
memories of an enjoyable party.

Formal sit-down rneals

Give guests something to dress up for,
ba anc ng a sense of occasion and

ceremony with a formal, but sti

pleasant y relaxed atmosphere.

The home or h red venue should be

spark inq clean, sweet smeLling and

dtrroLL.ve wi.


flowe's or dpp opr dte

decorations. Aim for understated

sophisticat on. Every area that guests

w ll notice must be pr stlne.

The table is the centrepiece o{ the

occas o1. 50 oevole t



pla-rtng t

up over a mea , then to warm the room

Coord nate co ou1 shape and texture

aga n later,

Above Highly decorative floral displays

look good on buffets.


n decorations and presentatron. Lay

. lf possible,

the tab e wel in advance rather than

as an afterthought. L ghting should be

oe appre( a ed before eve yole sir)

edges can be flow ng but they must

down. Leave the door to the prepared

not be so ong that they become

f attering, rather than bright, but never

dining room open so that guests catch

hazard as peop e pass close by.

g oomy. Candlelight is perfect, so use

a tantal z ng glimpse as they arr ve.

candles around the room and set fair y

Allow time for seatlng guests at the


low on the tab e or well above eye leve

tab e rather than rushing them.

Plates shou d be arranged at one -"nd

allow a beautifu table to

A fork buf{et should nc ude food

The dining area shou d be p easantly

warrn rather than uncomfortably hot.

Be ready

to reduce heating discreetly or

prov de ventilation as everyone warms

is eas ly eaten w th just a fork.

of the tab e so that guests move a ong

of seated diners.

Buffet basics


You can decorate the edge of a buffet

napk ns and any accornpaniments on a

tab e wlth f lowers, garlands, bows or

sma I tab e s ightly away from the end

other trimmings. Table coverlngs and

of the buffet wil encourage guests to


themse ves. D spLaying forks,

move away from the food. Buffet

tables are o{ten placed agalnst a wa

oul 41o\


l1e Tdo

e ^lo the'oon '

better, encouraging guests to walk

around and serve thernseJves w thout

having to stretch over dishes.
lf the buffet is seif-service, all the

{ood should be easy to serve with

spoon, tongs or sl ce using one hand.



to arrange food n dishes of

different he ghts, and d splay one or

nore la.ge o shes


(enl'eo ecet

Arrange {ood in a logica order

rather than randomly on the table.

Moving guests f rom main dishes on to

LeIt A silver and white theme creates a
so p h isti cated d i n


ta b I e.

Party Planning 23



is logical if the menu

that form. Replenish or replace

as necessary.

,\rhen the food takes the form of a


1 course, rather than a collection of

:: -olemenrary drshes, the savouries


usually cleared away before sweet

s'res are brought out. This can be



arge gatherings if some

for dessert before

::^ers have finished the maln course,
i ;etting out cheese and desserts on
_:-ests are ready

ieparate tab e is better.

Fabulously simple
-read of setting out one large buffet
you can distribute dishes
- :ividually among several occasional
es, addinq a stack of small plates,

For this approach, the trick is to

keep "waves" of prepared foods in

Above Decorate a table for an autumnal

(fall) lunch with fruits of the season.

':'<s and paper or liren rapl.ins in
::ah case. This is a bril rant way of

them all out at once, replace empty

by a selection of roasted min ature

:-esenting an eclectic collection of

platters as the food is consumed.

vegetables and accompanying dips,

:;nes, each to be sampled and

its own. Ref lect the stylish

Moving from one style of food to

and finally by the f inest home-made

-,oured on

another is easy

:cproach by serving beauttfully

dif{erent courses of a meal - and it is

a good idea to allow a palaie-clearing

: splayed food on p ain whtte plates

:^d keep decorative room trimmings
-^cluttered, just one step on from
:omplete minimalism.

reserve in the kitchen. lnstead of laying

rather like serving

pause between one variety and the

chocolate truffles. Remember the rule:

less is


lnformal and fun

next. For example, a range of

It is easy to lose a sense of style when

marinated seafood may be followed

casually decorating a home and

disp aying an lnformal buffet. Focus

on a limited choice of fun decorations

and controlled use of colour to avoid
overdoing it with garish clutter.
Presenting just a small number of
seriously delicious dishes or one or two
types of the frnest-quality ingredients


nuch nore sopl'islcaled lhan aying

out an ill-matched mix of home-made
and bought bits and pieces. For
example, perfect seafood paella, a

tureel of srpe'lative sorp

ar^d glorrous

platters of charcuterie and cheese will

each make a fabulous mea when


ots of fresh home-made

bread and a herb-filled eafy salad.

Left Bright table linen and plates

by col ou rf u I utensi ls

co m plemented

add up to informal Mediterranean st\/le.