A dinner party doesn't need to be fancy or elaborate to be beautiful. It just takes a little bit of intention ... and not a lot of money! Here are a few sweet and simple things I do when we're having people over for dinner.
> Use real plates, place low bowls on top for salad.
> Prepare simple food, but serve it in courses. Don't feel pressured to make some big elaborate meal you've never made before just because you're having people over. The less you stress over the meal, the more time you'll have to spend with your guests drinking wine, talking, and building community.
> Use real wine glasses and set a glass for water at each seat. Have a glass pitcher of water on the table, add a few fruit slices to make it special.
> Get to be pretty good at a couple of cocktails and keep the ingredients on hand. Offer up an easy and simple cocktail if your guests so desire. We almost always treat ourselves to a cocktail when we're out to a nice dinner. It's fun to treat your guests with the same experience.
> Warm bread in a basket with a rustic kitchen cloth and a slab of butter makes all the difference.
> Place a jar of fresh flowers on your table. I like to buy a big mixed bouquet at Trader Joe's and break it down into several smaller jar bouquets around the house.
> Use tea towels as cloth napkins.
> Light several candles around your home. Dim the lights just a tad in your dining room.
> Put on record, or let your guests help pick the tunes!
> Enjoy a simple and beautiful dinner with your friends, and choose not to worry about the dishes. They can wait.