Holiday Dinner Party - Pro Tips

Setting a table for a dinner party can be challenging, but when done right, it’s a lot of fun.  Here are some tips to make it a project you look forward to.

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Quick Tips

  • Decide on a color scheme.  White with accents is always a good place to start and can be changed depending on the season.
  • First, you will start with the table runner or center décor elements.   If you don’t you will have to work over your table settings and risk breaking a glass!  Remember to center it in the middle of the table (measure).
  • A good tip is to try and make sure your centerpiece or table runner décor has a variety of heights.  If you choose to go with one tall centerpiece, then keep the rest of the décor (on either side of it) lower with maybe a few smaller medium height candles for example.  Or you can have many ‘centerpieces’.  In other words, have a taller recurring display with some height (for example flowers or little Christmas trees). That’s what we did for this one (see photos).  In between them, as you can see, we have decorative branches.
  • Make sure your centerpieces don’t prevent your guests from seeing each other. 
  • Don’t obsess over symmetry when it comes to your runner design.  As long as there is some order to it, we find it rather charming when things aren’t exactly perfect.
  • Next, set one place the way you want it.  Then measure your table and make sure you have enough place for each guest to comfortably sit.  My mother taught me to measure between place settings as they do in Downtown Abbey and we measure 23 inches between each person.  This will help you decide how many settings you will put on each side of the table and if you need to select a more compact style.  You can reduce the space needed for each place setting by eliminating the salad plates (bring them in when that course is ready).

Bargain hunt

If it’s within your budget buy multiple sets of china that can be mixed and matched.  We always buy our china at Home Sense or Home Goods (depending on whether you live in the US or Canada).  For instance, the china on our table is Lenox Eternal China which retails for $45/dinner plate which we purchased at Home Sense for $7.99/plate.  Home Sense and Home Goods carry many of the top china and glassware brands.  The placemats were purchased for $2.99 at Home Sense and they retailed for $15.99 at Pier One.  We always buy either 10 or 14 pieces of each item, but this will vary depending on how many people you typically host.  We buy a dinner plate, salad plate and luncheon plate.  The glasses were bought on sale as well at Pier One and Home Sense.  You could also shop online at Wayfair and they have a great selection of holiday themed plates and more. All of the decorations were bought after the holidays when everything is on sale for between 50-75% off.   We like to buy things for the next year!

Dinner is always an event we look forward to.  We like to share our tips with friends and family so that you can be the hostess with the mostest too!  For this dinner party we decided to do something extravagant to celebrate the holidays.

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The Menu

  • Appetizer
    • Fois Grois with toasted French baguette
  • Salad
    • Burrata with heirloom tomatoes and greek olive oil (from our favorite store Olives en Folie right here in Montreal)
  • Dinner
    • A choice of Rib-eye steak or Salmon Filet
    • Scalloped Potatoes with Gruyere cheese
    • Roasted Brussel Sprouts (halved) with a balsamic glaze
  • Dessert
    • Chocolate Souffle with crème anglaise
    • Chocolate Brandy Truffles
    • Gingerbread and Shortbread cookies
  • Coffee, Hot chocolate, and Tea

Goody Bags  

As you can see we love to cook and bake.  For the Goody Bags for our dinner guests we baked both Gingerbread and Sugar decorated cookies.  We baked huge snowflakes, ornaments, small snowflakes and white chocolate, cranberry and oatmeal cookies.  They were decorated with a royal icing which is super yummy.  We will be posting the recipes for these cookies in another blog post (coming soon).  We bought planters at a floral supply store that can be reused as the container for all of our cookies, we bought the clear cookie bags at Amazon.com and wrapped the goody bags in clear cellophane.

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This is a wonderful time of the year to celebrate faith, family and friends.  We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and a wonderful holiday whatever your beliefs!