10 entertaining essentials
The phone rings, or worse, your doorbell, and friends or family members just happen to “be in the neighborhood.” Since your welcome mat really does mean something to you, here are some ideas for what you should always have on hand to host an impromptu (and stylish!) get-together anytime.
Buy pillars in various heights and widths to cluster together on a plate or platter for a quick centerpiece or to display on your coffee table. Have taper candles and candlesticks handy for the dining table. The best time to stock up is right after the holidays when many stores put their candles on sale and since Christmas decor isn’t just about red and green anymore, the colour selection should be plentiful.
2 Cocktails, anyone?
Keep a cupboard shelf well stocked with glassware that is not of the everyday variety, so they’ll be clean and ready to go for serving cocktails and wine. Since there’s no time to run the dishwasher when your guests are there, heed the Boy Scout motto and be prepared. Keep your ice trays filled in the freezer, plus have some fun shapes ready too, like these from Fred.
3 Cocktail napkins
Have a variety of chic paper cocktail and dinner napkins on hand. Buy some that match your living room colour scheme or add a dazzling pop of colour to your everyday dinner table. Linen napkins are lovely, but what if your guests come ‘round on laundry day?
Orange you glad? In the winter, keep a bag of Satsuma or Clementine oranges in the fridge, they have a nice round shape (more so than traditional mandarins), and you can pop them into a large bowl for an easy, colourful centerpiece. Looks pretty on a coffee table or on the dining table.
Buy a piece of shimmery silk sari fabric from your Little India neighborhood to throw down as a table runner. Add a shot of glam in a gorgeous, rich shade and your everyday plates and glasses will take on a new dinner-party life.
6 Fire logs
Burn baby burn. Keep fire logs on hand for instant fireside coziness. Presidents Choice Crackling Fire Logs are nice, and sound just like wood burning, plus they burn 5 times cleaner than hardwood. www.presidentschoice.ca
7 Great music
Load up your MP3 with a few playlists of great music for instant mood. You don’t want to be shuffling thru your iPod while your guests are waiting. Download some instrumental faves that allow you and your guests to chat easily during your visit.
8 Essential oils
Keep some scented essential oils and a diffuser (either the tea light burner or plug-in variety) nearby to freshen up any room instantly. Vancouver brand Escents, www.escentsaromatherapy.com has some fresh, modern blends.
Have your wine rack stocked with at least one or two bottles of red, and a couple of white varieties. Don’t worry about having a fully stocked bar, most everyone enjoys a glass of wine, especially when you are caught off guard with visitors. A nice, inexpensive sparkling wine is wise to keep in the fridge too – in case a celebration or toast is in order.
10 Handy phone numbers
Dinner’s ready. Set up your phone’s speed dial with a list of your fave restaurants that deliver. Indian, Thai, or sushi anyone?