Find the Dining Room that Matches Your Entertaining Style

The holiday season can also be called the dining room season. Whether you invited your large family or a small gathering of friends, it’s the time of year to celebrate with loved ones and that often involves bringing people together over food.

So is your dining room ready? And does it fit your personality? Your dining room should be a reflection of your entertaining style, and the pieces you’ll need are dictated by your personality.

 

The Socialite

Do you love large parties with dozens of guests, mingling and chatting with Michael Buble’s Christmas CD playing in the background? A dining room table will accommodate intimate gatherings, and you’ll need a nice buffet and bar to create a place for appetizers and drinks. A bistro or gathering height table in your kitchen is also a great addition, since that’s often where people tend to gather. Here are some options for the hostess with the mostest:

 

 

The contemporary feel of the NB2 Modern Dining Collection features sleek lines and a rich, dark finish. Upholstered chairs have a unique design, while the bar cabinet and buffet are embellished with gold hardware.

 

The Destin Five-Piece Gathering Set will be the perfect spot for guests to mingle in the kitchen. The glass top offers an open feeling, while the arched base feels special.

 

The Matriarch

Do you relish hosting your extended family once or twice a year for a traditional-style holiday feast? If so, you’ll want special pieces in an elegant style worthy of your semiannual affair. You’ll need a dining room table with a leaf (or two). A formal china cabinet or sideboard will also fit the bill. And consider a table protector to guard your investment, especially if you have small children in attendance. Here are some pieces that will fit your Norman Rockwell style:

 

The Cambria Dining Collection proves that formal dining doesn’t have to be boring. The trestle table features vase turnings and a distressed two-tone finish. The upholstered chairs offer that feeling of luxury and comfort. You’ll love the beautiful buffet for showing off or storing your heirloom china.

 

Or consider the Hartford Dining Room Collection. The walnut finish is rich and inviting, while the leaf expands the table to 90”. You’ll love showing off your stemware in the matching china cabinet and the dining chest provides a great place for tempting dinner guests with dessert.

 

The Laidback Hostess

Do you combine your everyday eating area with the space in which you entertain? If so, you’ll need a causal yet transitional dining set that would be as much at home during Saturday morning Cheerios with your kids as it would be on Christmas Day sharing a standing rib roast with your in-laws. Sturdiness, comfort and function will be key for you, so look for a table and chairs that are sold enough for daily use yet beautiful enough for showing off. Check out these dining options for the person who celebrates every meal in style.

 

The Sterling Collection from Gascho is handsome enough for company and sturdy enough for daily use. It’s an excellent example of solid wood construction, utilizing the finest selections of solid maple. An investment in Gascho is an investment in a family heirloom. You’ll love this piece for years.

 

Or consider Essex Dining Collection, which offers a fresh take farmhouse style. Its auburn and white finish look perfect in a kitchen, and its style is comfortable enough for a casual gathering with friends and family.

 

Get Ready for Entertaining Season: Folding Chairs and Tables

The holidays are the season for entertaining, and that often means you need more space at the dining room table. If your current table and chairs meet your needs every other day of the year, maybe all you need is a folding table and chairs for special occasions. Today’s styles and materials offer lots of options so you can bring home a set that blends with your décor. Check out these options that ship for free!

Folding Chairs

 

These chairs are made of wood for a stylish and sturdy seating option that you could use on a regular basis. Or fold them and store them away when not needed.

 

These white metal chairs have a stylish X-back, which adds a striking detail to your table setting. They fold for easy storage, but they’re also chic when in use.

 

Or go with the traditional-style folding chair in black with a padded fabric seat. A great value, these fold flat for quick and easy storage.

 

Folding Tables

 

Add a pop of color with a teal folding table and chairs set. This would be a colorful “kids’ table,” as well as a festive place to entertain friends.

 

Increase your guest list by having a large folding table on hand. Easily seat eight, or use as a large buffet for a holiday spread.

 

This Espresso Wood Table is made of wood and looks too pretty to be portable—but it is! The vinyl inset makes clean up effortless, and the genuine wood construction makes guests feel pampered.

Let’s Dish! How to Buy Dinnerware

 

Whether you’re a gourmet chef or take-out aficionado, you’re going to need some plates and bowls. You can simply pick the color or pattern you like, but it’s better to bring home a set that will last.

We caught up with our housewares buyer Emily Faltesek to get expert advice on purchasing dinnerware. She shares three things to consider:

Your Budget

Dinnerware comes in four types of material, and each has a different price point and characteristic.

Earthenware is the oldest for of dinnerware and is made of unrefined clay fired at low temperatures to create a glass-like surface.

“This is the lowest end,” says Faltesek. “The problem is that it doesn’t hold up to repeated use in the dishwasher, and it chips and breaks easier. You may spend less up front but you’re not getting the best bang for your buck.”

Stoneware is more durable than earthenware and is chip resistant. It’s made of refined clay and is fired at a higher temperature.

“Stoneware holds a glaze better than earthenware, and so it comes in cool designs and patterns,” says Faltesek. “It doesn’t chip as easily and holds up to the microwave. If you’re just starting out, stoneware is a good option and a good value.”

Porcelain is more durable than earthenware and stoneware. It offers a glass-like surface, and is fired at higher temperatures.

“Porcelain is made of a material that’s thinner and lighter weight,” says Faltesek. “It’s made from a finer sand, and is sturdy and doesn’t chip easily.”

Bone china is considered to be the strongest and most durable form of dinnerware. It’s fired twice at a higher temperature than porcelain and is dishwasher and microwave safe.

“Bone china is high quality; the finest fine china,” says Faltesek. “It’s super lightweight, durable and chip resistant. Animal bone ash is added to clay which makes it stronger.”

Your Needs

How many pieces you need depends on the size of your family and how often you entertain. Faltesek says enough to serve 12 is a traditional amount to purchase, but this number can be adjusted based on your needs and available storage. Dinnerware is sold in one of three ways:

Boxed sets come in 16- or 20-piece sets and provide service for four. They usually come with a dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, teacup and saucer.

Place settings are the most common way porcelain and bone china is sold. A place setting comes with five pieces: dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate, teacup and saucer.

Open stock is dinnerware that is sold by the individual piece. This is a good option for someone who might not need separate salad and bread plates, or if you want to add to what you already have.

Faltesek recommends open stock. “I always buy open stock because if you break a plate or want to replace a scratched add bowl, it’s easy,” she says.

How many different sets to buy is another consideration. “Conventional wisdom says you need two sets: casual, for everyday use, and something more formal,” Faltesek says. “That’s not true anymore.”

Instead, determine if you’re frequently having big formal dinner parties. If you’re not, one set will do.

Your Style

Finally, you need to find dinnerware that represents your personal style. You’ll find options in every color imaginable, but you can never go wrong with white, says Faltesek. “White dinnerware is a big trend, especially in modern style,” she says. “You can use it for any occasion; it’s always appropriate.”

While you can use it alone, white dinnerware also serves as a foundation. “Layer fun colors or metallic with salad plates or bowls,” says Faltesek. “You can be trendy and fun for the season without spending tons of money replacing everything later.”

The best thing to know about dinnerware is to buy what you love. “Have fun,” says Faltesek. “Otherwise dinnerware is just taking up space in your cupboard.”

Summer Fun: How To Host a Shrimp Boil

shrimp boil

 

Summer is the time for outdoor parties. If you’re looking to host a casual large gathering and you love shellfish, there’s nothing better than having a shrimp boil. This type of party requires very little prep and cook time. You simply boil the ingredients and serve.

 

Grab your calendar and put a shrimp boil on the schedule. Here’s the simple recipe from Food.com:

  • 4 pounds of large or jumbo shrimp, heads off
  • ½ cup shrimp boil seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 12-ounce can of beer
  • 2 large onions, cut in quarters
  • 8 red potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 6 ears of corn, cut in half or thirds
  • 2 pounds of spicy sausage

 

Fill a large stockpot with four quarts of water, and place over high heat. Add Old Bay, salt, water and beer. When the water is boiling, toss in the potatoes and onions, and cook for 8 minutes. Next add the sausage, cooking on high for 5 minutes. Then add the corn, and continue to boil for another 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 4 minutes. Drain the liquid, and pour the contents into large bowls, shallow pails or on a tabletop covered with brown paper. Give guests plates and plenty of paper towels. Serves eight. Enjoy!

Create Your Winter Bucket List

Photo credit: Pinterest / Attagirlsays
Photo credit: Pinterest / Attagirlsays

When the temperatures drop, it can be very tempting to hibernate in your home, but don’t let the season get away without making memories. Create a winter bucket list of fun activities that are best done at this time of year, and start checking things off. Here are 10 ideas to get you going:

 

  • Decorate a gingerbread house
  • Make peppermint bark
  • Hold a snowball fight
  • Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride
  • Participate in a secret Santa gift exchange
  • Go for a drive and look at the Christmas lights
  • Volunteer at a local food bank or shelter
  • Bake cookies
  • Toast marshmallows in your fireplace and make s’mores
  • Go skating on an outdoor rink or pond

 

What are your favorite wintertime activities?