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Entries in hosting (4)

Tuesday
Feb192013

open that bottle night 

What: Open That Bottle Night
When: Saturday, February 23
Where: Wherever!

How many times have you been gifted a special bottle of wine, or gone to great lengths to bring one back from a once-in-a-lifetime trip, only to open it after it’s too late?

Created by married wine critics Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, former contributors to The Wall Street Journal, whose column gave the everyday wine lover ratings they could relate to—such as: “delicious!”, just plain “good”, or so bad it’s “yech”—Open That Bottle Night, OTBN, reminds us that even excellent wines have a shelf life and life is too short to not enjoy them before their best use is paint thinner.

So plan a party—for this Friday, the last of the month and the traditional OTBN date—and work on the menu so the wine you’ve chosen compliments as it should. Check out these helpful hints, keep your fingers crossed, and enjoy creating a new memory for that very special bottle.

Hints:
1. Encourage guests to choose their bottle thoughtfully—and be prepared with ‘back-up bottles’ in case any have gone bad.

2. Be sure to share the story of the bottle with each other—and don’t forget to include the new memory of the evening’s events and those in attendance. Remember, good times with good friends are special events in and of themselves.

3. A bottle of red that’s “of a certain age” should be stood up a few days prior to opening to allow any sediments to sink to the bottom. This will ensure the best glass possible.

4. The corks of older bottles may be brittle or more difficult to remove so use a 2-prong corkscrew—which goes around the cork and not through it—and practice using it.

5. Slow down—and give proper consideration to the bottle’s temperature and the wine’s aeration. Older wines can be fragile so don’t jump to decant them or pour them down the drain at first ‘bad’ taste. Give them time to open up, try others in the meantime, swap stories, relax.

6. Create new memories with a collection of the corks marked with the date, or a scrapbook containing the bottle’s label and details of the evening—including recommendations for the wines that were worth the wait!

Monday
Nov292010

host a tree trimming party

photo courtesy of: qmnonic Traditionally, Christmas trees were decorated on Christmas Eve and stayed up until the day after Twelfth Night, January 6th. Ironically, decorating an evergreen tree for Christmas supposedly started as the Protestant counterpart—as a symbol of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden—to Catholic Nativity scenes which are now often displayed under a tree.

Early decorations were foods such as sugared plums, gilded apples, white candy canes and strings of popcorn and cranberries. Woolworth’s was one of the first retailers to sell glass ornaments imported from Europe, and later made in the US, as the tradition made it’s way across many lands and down the social ladder from royalty.

Today, ornaments are made of glass, paper, wood, porcelain…most of us reminisce as we put up favorites from Christmases past and add new ones each year. Hosting a tree decorating party can be a quiet evening visiting—creating new memories while the work gets done—and before guests are off to a second or third party of the night.

Thursday
Dec102009

10 essentials: dinner at 8

Whether you’ve snail-mailed or e-mailed invites, your sit-down dinner starts at 8.

Following are essentials to set a casual mood that will relax guests so they can be themselves and linger over good food with pleasant company.

1. Set the mood with music and put it on long play so the rhythm of the party—and you—don’t get interrupted.

2. Let guests pick their seat and skip the place cards. They’ll most likely enjoy the conversation more if their neighbor was their choice.

3. Bring in some natural foliage as a centerpiece. A branch cut from the outdoors, or fresh lemons, are playful elements that make it casual.

4. A curve candleholder not only compliments the background jazz which keeps the party lively, it doesn’t get in the way of conversation.

5. Smart candles are reusable and create a glow as warm as a burning candle.

6. Ditch matching plates and create a softened, relaxed look by layering dinnerware colors and materials—such as green glass cayman with white porcelain plates.

7. Mix things up and layer table linens—such as rustle napkins with high gloss placemats.

8. Stainless pitchers of water keeps everyone hydrated—and keeps you at the table.

9. Think outside the box and mix up stemware. Think stemless wines as water glasses with shapely sophia stems for reds and whites. Together the organic shapes will compliment a relaxed mood.

10. Wine decanters allow wine to breath before pouring, add a sparkle to the table, and keep the tablescape neat and cohesive. Bonus is that you can serve less expensive, while no less delicious, wines without anyone being the wiser.

Hint: position your seat at the table closest to the kitchen for easy access since something’s always forgotten.

And for a neater, edited tabletop, plate entrees in the kitchen and present them to everyone at the same time. This saves the hassle of passing dishes and gives guests a chance to toast the chef!

Wednesday
Nov112009

hints for hosting holiday guests

In the next seven weeks family and friends will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa—and New Year’s!

You’ve made the most gracious offer to share your home with holiday visitors for a few days—what greater gift is there? As a guest, most often we’re concerned we’re an inconvenience to our host’s routine and space. Reassure them by saying “Welcome!” with these thoughtful gestures.

cora carafe

1. A simple cora carafe on the nightstand shows you care about their well-being. Adding a slice of fresh cucumber or citrus makes the gesture even sweeter.stainless soap dish

2. To give guests some personal space in the bath, tie a ribbon around a new bar of soap and their own stainless soap dish. Placed on top of folded towels at the foot of their bed, its a luxurious amenity comparable to a 4-star hotel.

3. Make guests most physically comfortable by providing a bed, or a flex convertible sofa, in a spare room. Maybe you’ve been thinking about it and this is just the motivation you need to seal the deal?

4. If your budget for the season will be spent on gifts and an air mattress instead, consider a new set of percale sheets and keep them dedicated to future guests.

flex and cable cropped

5. A cable throw across the foot of the bed can warm feet at night or at the very least, guests won’t have to ask for an extra blanket if they’re feeling chilled.

6. Offer some reading material that expresses how happy you are they’re spending time with you. “Here’s to You!” is a compendium of inspiring quotes to celebrate the special people in your life.

7. Print some of the photos you’ve been sharing via email and post them around the house using magnetic photo frames. When guests are packing for home, be sure to wrap them safely as a momento of their visit.

Some are small, special touches while others require time, effort and a budget. Those are the long-term investments—gifts for yourself perhaps? In the end, guests will feel welcome, less stressed feeling less of an inconvenience, and more able to fully enjoy holiday festivities.