Making Sit-Down Dinners Special

THE HOLIDAYS are a perfect time to add a little elegance to the table. Instead of a casual family-style supper, where food is passed from one person to another, host a formal sit-down dinner, where individual plates of food are served to guests. Here's how:

Keep the guest list small.

Bring out your china, crystal, silver and best linen cloths. Use place cards so guests don't have to guess where to sit.

When selecting a centerpiece for the table, make sure it isn't too tall (10 to 12 inches is an acceptable maximum height), otherwise guests won't be able to see each other across the table.

Serve appetizers and beverages in the living room before sitting down. You'll have one less course to bring to the table.

Before calling guests to the table, fill water goblets and put out the bread and butter for guests to pass. If you're serving a salad, fill individual salad plates and set them at each place setting. Consider chilling the salad plates in the refrigerator for several hours to keep greens crisp. If your dinner plates are oven-safe, set the oven to the lowest possible temperature and place the stacked plates in the oven to warm while enjoying salad and bread. If your dishes are not oven-safe, rinse them under hot water and dry just before filling.

When guests have finished with the salad, clear the plates and utensils used. Then prepare and garnish individual dinner plates in the kitchen.

Before serving dessert, clear the table of all dishes, including extra glasses, salt and pepper shakers and condiment dishes.

Serve dessert and coffee cups. Place the sugar and creamer on the table.

Avoid the temptation to clear the table and start washing dishes…that can wait until after your guests leave.

 
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