My Top Tips When Hosting

1. Pull out all of your Grandmother's China. I LOVE the conversation that happens when my guests are given unexpected dishes, glasses and serving utensils. So many stories of my family back east, my travels all over the World where I picked up unique items at flea markets and thrift shops, and touches of my personal style... all mixed together.

2. Dress to Impress. Let you favorite table linens and cloth napkins be the back drop if you are using matching sets of service ware. Blending textures patterns, colors and prints can bring your simple dishes to life and compliment the food being served.

3. Bring the Outdoors In. I always enjoy walking my property and clipping sprigs of greens and wildflowers (sometimes weeds) to add as garnish to my dishes and table setting.

4. Layer upon Layer. Often we (shhh, my husband)invites more guests than originally planned. Which means I often do not have the same number of matching dish sets to have all of the place setting match. That when I mmix them up and layer them so the overall style of the table is complimented. I choose plain colored linens so the table isn't overwhelmingly busy.

5. Serve a multitude of Food Varieties. Too much of one thing is never a good idea. You never know what people will like or dislike so plan a menu full of choices, Hot items, cold items, finger foods, vegan options and sweets. That way all of your guests are satisfied and you have a variety of left overs as well.

6. Full Service or Buffet. Depending on the atmosphere you want to create will determine how you will serve your guests. If I have guest list of people that do not know each other, I will entertain them more casually so they are free to wander around my home, visit with other guests and creating a space that required then to get up and move around to get their food & drinks will encourage mingling. For a more intimate setting where most of the guests are also friends, we like to sit down and have everything we need in front of us so we can stay engaged in conversation without interruptions.

7. Bubbles & Brews. Just like the food choices, have drink choices too. Wines in reds and whites, cocktails and mixers too. Make sure you have plenty of nonalcoholic beverages. That way every guest will choose they comfort level of hydration.

8. Be prepared for the Clean Up. Before the guests arrive, make sure all fo the the dishes you used to prepare the meal are washed and put away and the dishwasher is empty. If your guests are like ours, they ALWAYS stay late...which we LOVE. But waiting until the morning to clean up is dreadful. Stay on top of the mess, quietly excusing yourself every once in a while for short periods of time, and you will be able to hit the sac and wake up ready for a new day.

9. Make you Guests Part of the Experience. As the guests arrive, they undoubtably ask if they can help with anything. Have a few tasks on the side that you can allow them to help with. Maybe popping the corks, filling the ice bucket or filling the candy bowls. Everyone like to take part, so let them.

10. RELAX and ENJOY the environment you created. You deserve to be a part of all your hard work. Kick off your shoes, grab your drink and get engaged in the conversation. let your guests help themselves and ask if they need something. After all they came to spend time with you, not watch you work and take care of them.

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