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The Dinner Bell is Ringing

*Window Shade fabric by Quadrille

8 tips for everyone to enjoy a Happy Holiday Event.

Here are some ideas for how to organize the day, make each other feel warm and welcome and provide a dazzle of festivity.

#1. Outline the day’s events

Imagine the experience for each guest from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave. When they walk through the door you greet them with a smile even if your new puppy has upended the pear tart.

Something to think about; Will guests’ coats go on a rack in another room or have you temporarily cleared out your front closet?

#2 Locate a drinks bar

After you’ve greeted guests at the door put a drink in their hand. Introduce them around if they’re new to the group. Show them around if they’re new to your home.

Something to think about; Where is the bar located? Make sure your guests know. We have a screened in porch and for Thanksgiving we love setting up the bar there. It’s a good way to get people moving around. White wine in a bucket, Red in a decanter, Bloody Mary’s in a pitcher or a Holiday Grog in a special punch bowl & the bar is nearly complete save for a bucket of ice cubes and some Hillrock bourbon. @HillrockEstateDistillery

Something else to think about; We have a collection of hand embroidered linen cocktail napkins from an antiques market in Buenos Aires, a ‘green’ solution. Although if you forget about green for a moment, finding clever cocktail napkins like these from @ByDesignDesign that make you laugh or smile is always a win. Funny cocktail napkins are a great hostess gift by the way!

#3 Make up little seating vignettes

If the weather is warm enough we sometimes arrange a few chairs in the porch for people to gather near the bar. For a small house, having little areas all around for people to chat in groups of two and three expands the party space.

*The W Hotel - Ft Lauderdale, FL lounge seating

Something to think about; Bring in a couple dining chairs and arrange them next to your furniture in the living room, family room or den. It should feel loose and easy so conversations can happen spontaneously. When you need to get the dining chairs around the table, having guests help out is a clever way to announce it’s time to gather around the table. People want to be included and want to help so let them bring their chair to the table, unless it’s your 95 year old mother-in-law of course.

#4 Add small decorative touches around the house

Something to think about; Add small flower arrangements all over the house. It’s nice to see flowers in the bathroom. At a country auction we picked up a box full of small glass bottles and often use them for a small arrangement in a powder room. This powder room has a mirror ‘piggy backed’ on a mirrored wall. The silk wallpaper is from

Pierre Frey. Another hostess gift idea, a flower in a vase. Do not show up with flowers unless they’re contained in some way because you otherwise provide more work for the hostess to arrange them.

#5 Find your place setting

When you take the time to create a seating plan you add an intimate touch to the day. It lets each guest know you thought about them.

Something to think about doing; Use some card stock and decorative ink stamps to create name cards to personalize table settings. #limoges #noritake

#6 Write out the Menu

Everything on the menu needs a serving dish. We usually take scrap paper and make a note as to what’s going in each dish. This helps as a reminder too! More than once the homemade cranberry sauce was left sitting in the refrigerator.

Something to think about; If you’re a guest this year, you might consider showing up with more than just an appetite. Putting a big dinner together is work in spite of the fact that those of us who do it, love doing it. So if you are invited to a gathering, it is nice to ask “What can I bring, or how can I help?” The hostess will let you know & you’ll both feel better for it. If you’re the Host you might consider asking guests to show up with something, even if it’s just a good story!

#7 Give Thanks

Growing up in a preacher’s household we always said grace before dinner. ‘Come Lord Jesus be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed, Amen.’

Something to think about; Go around the table and have everyone say one thing they’re grateful for. It’s a chance for everyone to be a little vulnerable even if just for a moment. Make @BreneBrown proud.

#8 Have a story to tell

As a preacher’s kid, I’m a sucker for a good story. Having a story to tell at the dinner table keeps us from discussing politics and we all know how that can go. I can still remember my dad telling the story about the Bear in the woods he met while deer hunting and how he, my dad, climbed a tree in haste. I can still see him laughing hard remembering….

Something to think about; Have a thought about when you might ask if anyone has a story to tell. Dessert could be a good time for this.If it is a funny story you’ll want to avoid having to perform an abdominal thrust (aka Heimlich maneuver).


Our Story; Recently our house was broken into. It was an awful moment having the police walk through our home with all our belongings strewn about. My underwear and bras all over the floor, my jewelry drawers upside down on our bed! I couldn’t look for the ring my mother gave me before she died. The one she bought for herself as a celebration of life, living ten years after Stem Cell Therapy. For hours they reminded us not to touch anything so they could take photos and acquire finger prints.

Two days later we were out to dinner with friends telling them that maybe if we had a dog barking in the house, maybe, just maybe the robbers would have skipped our home. The Good News is; The next day I kicked something and heard a jingle and there it was, my mother’s ring! She must have jumped right out of the burglar’s bag! And those friends we were out to dinner with, revealed that a friend of

theirs was suddenly in possession of a puppy and asked if they knew anyone looking to adopt. It felt like a sign. Meet Coco Caramel. We look forward to introducing her to our family this Thanksgiving.

From our home to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!


Gretchen Reinheimer Design

Creating extraordinary spaces together


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