Dinner Parties: The Lost Art

It is official: staying home is the new going out according to Marie Claire.  Today, I indulged in a pedicure which my feet desperately needed.  One of my favorite parts about pedicures is all the very girly, ridiculous, outdated magazines that I would never actually buy, but I admit to really enjoying reading.  They are kinda like junk food reading.  There is no real substance (yes, veggies have all sorts of really good health benefits and surprise, surprise, men like blow jobs!).  But they are brightly colored and have lots more colors inside which draw me from page to page.  Lately these magazines have started writing many “cost saving tips” (although buying a $100 dollar skirt does not count as a “steal” in my book) amongst the rest of the articles. One of these such articles proclaimed that gone were the days of mojitos and 3 course meals and instead people were having friends over for dinner.  It then proceeded to detail a couple of recipes to make for your first dinner party.

I hope this trend continues.  I have loved dinner parties for as long as I can remember.  When I was younger, all of the major holidays had large formal dinners associated with them.  We didn’t normally have people over because we didn’t have any close family.  But they were still large productions and so much fun.  We would have a family meeting during dinner a week or two beforehand to plan the meal and then assign the dishes to each person.  Everyone in my family cooks very well so it was always quite tasty!

I was always in charge of setting the table.  It was always an elaborate procedure, but it just looked magical when it was done.  I would spend a good hour ironing the white linen tablecloth and napkins.  Linen is really hard to iron, but there was something almost meditative about it.  Then I would carefully take the tablecloth off the ironing board and lay it across the table.  I even grabbed the iron and would work on any creases it acquired in the move. Next came the silverware.  We had acquired an extra set of real silver from my father’s parents and it was so heavy and cool in your hands.  His mother was very strict on manners and I learned from her exactly how the silverware should be set and in what order in conjunction with the plates and glasses.  Once the silver was set, it was followed by the plates and then the glasses (both water and wine).  Then I would place the candelabra in the center of the table and make sure the candles were secured.  This was followed by the salt and pepper shakers (did you know that salt tarnishes silver so you should always store salt shakers sans salt?) and placement of all the serving bowls and their accompanying serving spoons. Once everything was set, I would step back to admire my handiwork and feel all nice inside.

As I have grown older, I still like throwing dinner parties.  I threw them in my studio in DC where we had to sit on the floor because I had no furniture and then more and more when I met my husband who actually owned furniture!  When we got married, we were fortunate enough to get a set of china.  I love this china probably more than is warrented for a set of plates.  Tonight we are throwing a small dinner party for some friends of Alex from work.  I have throughly enjoyed going through all the motions of getting ready for the party tonight.  The table is set and it still looks magical.  I hope this dinner party trend continues even when people can afford to eat out again. I know my friends and I will keep it up.

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