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The Practical Guide to Simple Entertaining with Afternoon Hors d'oeuvres

A glass coffee table with appetizers

Knowing how to set a gracious hors d'oeuvre table is key to entertaining with style. Laying out a sampling of offerings your guests can enjoy promotes a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. Setting out this kind of spread does not have to be difficult but does require a bit of planning. This type of skill is beneficial for discriminating principals to know or the staff that serve in fine households. All it takes it a bit of know how!

Entertaining and party planning is a very deep subject, but for purposes of this discussion we will be referring to a simple gathering of a few close friends with no particular formality to the occasion...say a book club meeting or just an afternoon visit. Here are a few tips to have everything go smoothly and easily for the host or staff member preparing the event:

1. You can purchase everything, yes EVERYTHING and still have an elegant presentation: You don't have to be a gourmet chef to have an appetizer presentation, everything offered can be purchased from the store! A variety of meats and cheeses or a cheese and cracker display, small "ready-to-bake" hot bites, fresh fruit, a special offering (like shrimp cocktail pictured here) and sweet offerings like chocolates or french macarons can all be purchased from specialty stores....the key is presentation! Which leads to tip #2.

#2. Presentation is everything! If you are going to "cheat" and purchase items from the store, the key to a proper presentation is to get rid of every type of container and packaging and present all items on beautiful trays or dishes. The uniformity of the table will be very pleasing and elevate even the simplest items to look lovely when put together. The photo here shows all of those store purchased offerings displayed on glass and crystal serving dishes, which makes the presentation look uniform and not too cluttered.

#3. Fresh flowers bring style and elegance to the table and show the guests you put time and effort into their visit. If the arrangement is going to be taller in nature, put it to the side so that conversation is not hindered by the height of the flowers. Keep highly fragrant blooms out of flower arrangements that will be near the food and save those flowers for the bathroom areas. The floral aroma will compete with the food and may be off-putting when people are trying to eat (and this is also advisable for candles, keep them unscented in all instances when food is served and use those special fragrances for the bathroom or bedroom.)

#4. Keep drinks simple so that the host is not disturbed by having to mix a variety of cocktails. Offering guests only a few choices with possibility of a "signature mixed drink" prepared in advance in a pitcher ready to pour as needed will keep conversation flowing and allow for a more relaxed atmosphere. Shown here is a Campari Spritz with the traditional olive garnish switched for blackberries at the request of the host. Save the mixed drinks on order for a party when a bartender will be present so the host can enjoy the company of their guests and not be interrupted with constant refilling of various cocktails. They can simply keep the pitcher of the cocktail handy and refill their guest's drinks as needed.

For this and more ways for your staff to be trained on how to set a lovely casual entertaining table, please contact Luxury Lifestyle Logistics to set up an event planning policy and procedure manual today!

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