Tag Archives: entertaining

How Many Plates do I Really Need?

plates for entertaining

4 is not a number no matter how many chairs are in your dining room!

My kitchen table seats only 3 and my dining room table has only 6 chairs.  So, how many plates do I really need?  I need a lot more than 6!  I can honestly say that I get asked that question by almost every client I have.  The answer is that everyone needs at least 10 even if you only seat 6 at your table and here’s why:

First, you will sometimes choose to use some regular plates (not serving pieces) just for serving the food that you’ve made.  Perhaps the meal is more casual and you don’t feel the need to pull out your platters and, whatever you’ve created will fit just fine on a dinner plate.  That’s why if your table is like mine and you’re serving 6 you will need more plates.

Second, you might be having a casual dinner and somehow a plate or two gets cleared into the kitchen but your guests aren’t quite finished with the meal – you need more plates!

Third, for some holidays you might add a folding table or two with folding chairs to seat 12 and you need more plates.

Or, maybe you’re serving a buffet and a guest wants a clean plate – all of a sudden you need more plates.

Then there’s always the dreaded and unexpected ‘plus one’ that wasn’t on the original guest list but someone brings to the party. You can scramble for another chair that you pull up to your table but, if you don’t have extra plates, how are they going to eat their dinner?

And, what if you’re being very careful with cleanup but a plate slips through your fingers and goes crashing to the floor?  Or, the garbage disposal decides to eat a spoon? Or any number of other mishaps and disasters that could descend on your evening?

You can see where this is headed.  The number of chairs at your table is only the start of how many plates, bowls, glasses, spoons, forks, etc. that you need to have on hand.  My rule of thumb is an additional 4 of everything.  This holds true no matter what shape or size your plates, bowls or flatware are.  Extras are always the answer.

I used to throw an annual New Year’s Eve party for all of my friends.  The last several years the number of guests grew to 100.  After I pushed back all of the furniture in my living room I squeezed in 10 tables for dinner.  But, you can imagine how many dishes etc. I had for those parties – service for 115!!!  I just never knew if someone was bringing an ‘extra’ and I always needed to be prepared.

Count your plates and be ready for anything!

Recipe for Summer Punch: Champagne, Fruit, and Fun Ice

summer punch feature

An adult drink with champagne that only looks fruity sweet (it isn’t).

It’s summer and that means outdoor or indoor fun with friends and family and usually in a group.  I always recommend greeting your guests with an adult beverage when they arrive.  A summer punch sets the tone for the party and lets everyone know that you want them to have a great time.

The easiest way to serve an adult summer punch to a group (with very little effort from you-the host) is with a batch cocktail or fun punch.  Punch can be colorful and is definitely made ahead of your guests’ arrival which takes a lot of the stress out of making sure that first glass of ‘welcome’ is ready when they walk through the door.

Set up a beverage area with the punch bowl, cups or small multi-colored glasses and, of course, napkins.  Add flowers and you’ve created a focal point for the party and a place where everyone can simply serve themselves and you can focus on food or other aspects of the party and not on making cocktails.

summer punch prepOne of the downfalls of most punches is that they are very sweet.  This recipe for Champagne Punch with Brandy from epicurious is not. The addition of plenty of citrus – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit juice and fresh mint combats any sweetness in the mix.

Even though you use cold juice and cold champagne the big bowl of punch will never stay as cold as you want it to be for the whole party.  The rule is (even if you are having only a single drink) that the larger the ice cube the slower it will melt.  It will keep your beverage, and in this case the punch, cold longer without diluting it.

Instead of just adding the cut citrus to the entire bowl of punch, I used some of the cut fruit in the mini-bundt cake molds that I was using for the large ice shapes.  The more interesting the shape of the ice the more fun your punch will look.  I found my mini bundt mold from Nordic Ware at Williams-Sonoma.  I wanted the cubes large enough to melt as slowly as possible and still not worry that they would fit into my punch bowl.  After the molds are frozen solid simply run warm water on the OUTSIDE of the mold and the ice will release easily.

The great thing about this punch is that you can make a second pitcher of the juice mixture (no bubbles yet) to make the ice molds.  This absolutely insures that when the ice eventually melts (and it will) that your summer punch will not be diluted.  Alcohol will not freeze completely so do not add champagne to anything that you want to freeze solid.

Pour the fruit punch mixture into your punch bowl, add some of the cut fruit, add the beautiful ice and at the last minute before your guests arrive add the champagne.  Now you’re ready for a party!