Lavish Holiday Dinners

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When it comes to the holidays, there’s no better time of year to forgo the conservatism and bask in the extravagance that the season provides. While typical holiday dinners might include Aunt Connie’s corn casserole or cousin Ken’s crinkle cookies, this year, why not go a little over the top and celebrate with excess?

Throwing a holiday party filled with fabulous food, delightful drinks and more-than-remarkable sparkle will leave your guests feeling honored and you feeling like an extraordinary holiday hostess.

The Perfect Plan
When it comes to serving up an unforgettable and sumptuous soirée, planning is key, and pre-planning is never too early. Will you have a theme? Will you decorate in a certain color or style? Is your dinner party bejeweled with bling, comfortably rustic or fashionably formal? Choosing a theme right away will make for easier decisions later in the planning process.

During the holidays, evenings fill up fast, especially weekends, so send a save-the-date as early as possible to earn your dinner party a special spot on the calendar. Follow up with a formal invitation at least a month before the actual date to get the best return on your R.S.V.P.

Which brings us to those party summons requests, the R.S.V.P.

R.S.V.P. stands for “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” a French phase that means “please reply.” These days, printed invitations for dinner parties are certainly not the norm, but if luxury is what you are looking for, an email or Facebook invite just won’t do. A simple but traditional mailed invite is classic, charming and just waiting for an affirmative reply. Try working with a printer for a special version or make your own through various online programs. Use quality card stock and handwrite the envelopes or employ a calligrapher, as this will only add anticipation to the evening.

Probably the most important part of your fabulous festivities is the food that will be served. Choose a menu early, making sure it suits the season while keeping the palates of your guests in mind. Regular ham and turkey won’t cut it for an extraordinary dinner, so try Cornish hens, sumptuous seafood or a hearty meat. Keep your vegetarian friends happy with a few meatless choices and make sure to dish up something you have served before. Have an easy fall-back food already prepared in case something goes wrong with the main course.

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean everything has to be heavy. Most folks are happy to have healthy dishes from which to choose, and they will remember your thoughtfulness in the New Year to come.

While the food takes center stage at a lavish dinner party, decorations should also be divine, and going all out is required. Stick to your original theme and decorate each room similarly throughout. At holiday time, it is easy to embellish each room with a festive approach while staying within the color and theme of the party. But be bold! Red and green seem a bit ho-hum, but Tiffany blue and silver are merry and bright.

The true centerpiece of the evening is the dining room, and when your guests finally sit down, they should feel transformed into the holiday spirit. Use only your best dinnerware and stemware, and make sure everything is sparkling.

When it all comes down to it, drinks can make or break a holiday party. Plan some pre-dinner cocktails before the meal is served. You could even create a special cocktail or mocktail that fits the theme. Guests can mingle as they create their own merry-making cocktails at an open bar stocked with the basics such as wine, liquor, soda, juices and sparkling water. And, of course, consider your guests’ safety and offer sober drives home or availability of Uber, Lyft or taxicabs at your door.

A Lasting Impression
Party favors or small gifts are a great way to add to the festivity of your lavish dinner party. There’s no need to break the bank with overpriced gifts, but a simple parting present may be just the thing that makes the night memorable long into the New Year. Use monogrammed ornaments or candles by each guest’s plate or place small gifts in a basket near the front door so you can say goodbye with a gift and end the party on a high note.

There’s no need to hire a party planner for an exquisite and memorable holiday dinner. Free your imagination and let yourself go overboard in bling and flair. Go online to Pinterest and other party planning sites for ideas and inspiration. Just remember, the holiday season is a time for overdoing it. Use your resources and the sky is the limit. ■

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