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20-40-60 Etiquette---Who should I invite to dinner?


By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION:  I am going to have my first dinner party. How do I decide who to invite? Should it be family members? Work people? Old school friends? People I want to get to know better?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: It sounds like you need to figure out what kind of a dinner party you want.

Who do you want to cook for and have in your home? Start there.

Good luck!

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: Usually you decide to host a dinner party based on the people you want to see. Just pick a group and have fun with it.

If you’re nervous about hosting a dinner party or how to have one, then invite your forgiving friends who will love you anyway, no matter how well the party comes together or not.

It takes some intuition to put the right groups together in order to figure out who will click, so don’t worry about that right now. Just invite who you’d like to see and enjoy putting it all together.

HELEN’S ANSWER: Wow! What fun! The first of anything is special. This might be the time to practice on your family members. You might cook their favorite dishes, as well as yours, and see how much you need to prepare for a specific number of people.

It sometimes take practice to get all of the food dishes coming out at the same time. Try beautiful centerpieces and all of the pretty dinner plates and glasses that you have. Make something very special for dessert.

The next time you entertain, you will be ready and probably can have a specific group or mix it up with family, work friends and people who you think might like getting together. Enjoy!

GUEST’S ANSWER: Chuck Ainsworth, local civic leader: There are three ways to go regarding whom to invite. 

First, if this is truly your first dinner party, you may want to invite only very close friends and hone your dinner party skills. 

Second, if you feel comfortable, invite those who have entertained you or have done a kindness you would like to repay. 

Third, a dinner party can always be used to advance your goals either in the workplace or social arena.

Keep the invitees to a manageable number, no more than eight to 10, including yourself. 

Here are a few tips for a successful dinner party:

•After the invitation has been issued, the next most important consideration is the menu. A simple menu is the best. Go with what you know and have prepared at least once or twice. Be considerate if your guests have special dietary needs. Limit beverage options and include both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. 

•Set out a couple of light hors d’oeuvres (nuts or a small cheese plate) — nothing too heavy as you want them to enjoy the dinner to come. 

•If you have a culinary disaster, no problem — that is why pizza restaurants deliver. 

•Make sure that you have all the proper serving pieces, glasses, etc.  Set the table the night before. 

•Have a nice table decoration as this is where your guests will be spending the greater part of the evening. Make sure it is low enough to see over.

•Put on some nice soft music, relax and enjoy the evening,

Bon appetit and bonne chance!

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