Find out the ultimate dos and don'ts for throwing a fabulous holiday party from the expert.
One of Canada's most prestigious butlers, server to the stars - even, once, to the Queen! - and general manager of Azuridge Estate Hotel in Alberta, Clarence McLeod tells us the dos and don'ts of a sovereign-worthy soiree.
DO have a seating plan for any dinner party of more than six.
DON'T seat quiet people beside each other. When making your plan, always start with the most dynamic person in the centre and then alternate between reserved and outgoing guests. Match up people who have similar interests to ensure ease of conversation.
DON'T hold up dinner if a guests has let you know they'll be late.
DO wait 20 minutes if a late guest hasn't checked in yet.
DO delegate, even if it's simply asking someone to answer the door so you won't have to come out with flour on your face. All hosts need help, no matter how organized or talented they are.
DON'T pair fancy dishware with everyday options. When you go with your best, stick with it. Use fine china with crystal, not glass, and silverware instead of stainless steel.
DO layer your place settings. Stack dishes in the order they'll be used and have cutlery for each course. Unsure of which way to go? Start from the outside with your first course and work your way in to the last.
DO ask to take guests' cocktail glasses before dinner starts. Having those extra tumblers cluttering the table will ruin the aesthetic of your place settings. Plus, you've already carefully chosen which wines will highlight the flavours of your menu, and a guest's vodka soda might compromise that.
3 THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Timing is everything. Plan your party weeks in advance with a workback schedule so you don't miss a beat.
- Bring out your best. Don't let your wedding china sit around collecting dust! This is the special occasion you've been waiting for so proudly put it on display.
- Consider the designated drivers. Pick a perfect wine to pair with dinner, but don't forget to offer non-alcholic options, too.