Glasses raised mid-air for a toast, the clink of crystal, a sip of wine -- it's a familiar ritual that signals the start of a meal or other social gathering. With grace and ceremony, this effortless gesture encapsulates all five of our senses: sight, sound, touch, scent and taste. Creating a memorable party is as much about this collaboration of the senses as it is about finding the right recipes. When entertaining, here are some of the ways I aim to provide a sensual experience that guests remember long after dessert is served.
Comfort is a priority. I typically choose soft, plush seating that's inviting to curl up in. Curved furnishings soften angular architecture, and the additions of a reading lamp and ottoman turn an underused chair into a spot for lingering.
Details, details, details -- they make or break a room. Choose cushions that beg to be touched, like the ones at left by knitwear designer Olena Zylak. Shine door knobs and silver to a high gleam. Position a pinspot light on the contours of an Inuit sculpture and watch people gravitate toward it. Set the table with a crisply pressed cloth and your best dishes, glassware and candlesticks.
In a quiet room, a tabletop water fountain contributes to a pleasing ambience. Hang bells from the front door to signal the arrival of guests. And what's a party without music? I aim for a diverse mix, from Frank Sinatra to Amy Winehouse. For background music, I like to put on compilation CDs -- the Buddha-Bar series is my favourite.