|Courtney Price with Judd Lord, Brizo |
via Jayme Thornton Photography
“Courtney understands that the art of hosting is making guests feel comfortable. As an interior designer she has gorgeous taste, beauty, and a killer eye. In addition to these wonderful gifts, what makes her a standout in interior design and as a hostess in her home is her effortless focus on those she's with rather than on herself.”That is exactly the type of person worth listening to when thinking about dining by design! So let me share some of Courtney's thoughts, as she shared with me:
I can hold my own in the kitchen. I helped teach the French-menu class at a culinary school, and attended classes at another culinary school more recently. My husband and I are always trying something new. We like to make nutritious food gourmet and beautiful, but of course we also have our comfort-food moments and our splurges. Whenever we have an exceptional meal out of town or at a great restaurant, I try to recreate it at home.
It doesn't matter how many courses you serve but what does matter is that guests don't get overfed. Thanksgiving-day misery is never forgotten, and no matter how good your food was, it will not be remembered over a belly ache. It is always best to leave the guests craving just one more bite.
|hors d'oeuvre prepared by Courtney|
Planning. Planning. Planning. It's all in the details from the drinks you serve, the cocktail food, the timing of the meal, the table setting and carefully chosen guests who will blend well.
The element of surprise can be powerful in setting the tone of the evening. I have a friend who is THE most creative entertainer. Her invitation told guests to wear all black, which they did. Just inside the front door of her house were two baskets with many same-size items rolled up, tied in orange ribbons for females and green for males. Upon arrival, each guest was to take one and put it on. Want to know what they were? ........ His/her naked aprons, all different! People laughed all night long at each other. The memories from the evening are absolutely hilarious. This friend always has something fun up her sleeve like that, she is brilliant.
If I am doing the entertaining, small is my preference, 6-8 people is a good size group. I am all about comfort. Guests should be relaxed and have fun. It doesn’t need to be elaborate; all that is needed is a group that brings a love of food, a positive attitude and a great sense of humor.
I have observed that depending on the group, guests want to be involved. I had a fun group like this once, so I themed the evening as a summertime "white elephant" type party, where everyone brought a summer entertaining themed gift (capped off at a certain price point). The guests came with the cleverest gifts, all ready for a fun evening, and the gloves came off when everybody duked it out for the best gifts. People loved it. That concept can be done with any theme and can help break the ice if people do not all know each other.
Not that they need to be at the same table, but Ralph Lauren for his design inspiration, Barbara Barry for the same reason, Don Draper (the character) and maybe Sasha Baron Cohen, though he’d probably be better for a large group because who knows what character he would show up as. He would liven the party, for sure!
What do you consider the 3 “must-haves” a good host(ess) should never forget?
First, the root of all great party planning is considering each stage of the evening and each guest individually. Everyone should feel like the guest of honor. Second, careful organization and planning. It is important to have every detail possible ready in advance so you actually have time to spend enjoying your guests company. Finally, creativity for theme, food and table setting.
The first thing I notice when I arrive for a party or dinner is the smell of a delicious dinner being cooked for me. What an honor that somebody has gone to the trouble to plan, shop, prepare and serve another.
Flowers should be low enough [or high enough in some cases] that guests can converse across the table and in my opinion, I don't care whether seating alternates boy/girl - I want seating to promote best conversation.
All of the above! Choose your guests carefully and plan it well enough to be able to spend time with them! Food should have the balance of being equally beautiful and delicious. Those who you share a meal with should positively fuel you as well.
I could not agree more, Courtney! Thank you for your insight and inspiration. I have always considered myself a good cook, however, you have just put me in my place! I think I just may have to take my culinary skills up a notch or two. We will continue to keep an eye on your website and Pinterest albums for ongoing inspiration. It is quickly noted that the dining room and entertaining ideas pinned as inspiration on your boards mirror all you shared with us today.
How does your dining space rate when you look at it after reading this? Is it time to step out a bit in style and create some more interest? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments!
Thanks for sharing a seat at the table!
Bon Appetit! ~ Sarah