Ditch the din­ing ta­ble for your next din­ner party

In­te­rior de­sign ex­pert Jane Lock­hart shares her se­crets to throw­ing an un­for­get­table hol­i­day soiree

Thornhill Post - - Homes - JANE LOCK­HART Jane Lock­hart is an award-win­ning de­signer, TV per­son­al­ity and au­thor. She is also the prin­ci­pal de­signer of Jane Lock­hart In­te­rior De­sign, which she founded in 1997.

It’s din­ner party sea­son, and ev­ery­thing cen­tres around the din­ing ta­ble. But who wants to go to yet an­other bor­ing sit-down meal? We helped a client mix it up by turn­ing their liv­ing room into a beau­ti­ful en­ter­tain­ing space where guests could hap­pily cir­cu­late and en­joy great food, drinks and com­pany — very din­ner par­tyesque, with no din­ner ta­ble in sight.

Sat­isfy all the senses

En­ter­tain­ing like this is all in the de­tails: the aroma of fresh-baked goods, the taste of savoury and sweet nib­bles, the vis­ual beauty of flick­er­ing candlelight and decor, with low key back­ground mu­sic fine-tuned for the oc­ca­sion.

Ev­ery sur­face is an op­por­tu­nity

Cre­ate a feast for the eyes. This is the time to bring out your best serv­ing pieces. You know that huge plat­ter in the back of the cab­i­net? We lay­ered fresh green­ery on the bot­tom and hol­i­day decor to add sparkle un­der gen­er­ous candlelight. I like to mix vo­tives, ta­pers and pil­lars and fill lanterns with large bat­tery-op­er­ated can­dles, clus­tered in groups on the floor, so ev­ery sur­face has light. Vary­ing the size and shape of dec­o­ra­tions adds more vis­ual in­ter­est. Large, sculpted rein­deer stand guard over cheese plates, and shiny or­na­ments look fes­tive on multi-tiered serv­ing ware.

Mov­able feast

I like to use a va­ri­ety of sur­faces as food and drink “sta­tions.” For more vis­ual in­ter­est, use dif­fer­ent sur­faces at dif­fer­ent heights, with plenty of room to walk around. Every­where the eye lands on sur­faces around the room, a treat is wait­ing. Serv­ing bite-sized, hot hors d’oeu­vres on trays keeps guests out of the work sta­tion (kitchen) and gets you cir­cu­lat­ing too. You can mix and min­gle and check the food sta­tions to see if any­thing is run­ning low.

Tricks and treats

De­li­cious, pop-in-your-mouth cook­ies and sweets re­quire a cen­tral lo­ca­tion, like an ot­toman where guests can move around and see the whole se­lec­tion. Add glass or crys­tal jars filled with gold balls or bat­tery­op­er­ated strings of lights. It’s a sim­ple trick to set these out on a mir­rored tray (or a flat mir­ror) to re­flect the light and add sparkle. A side­board is the ideal place to set out dif­fer­ent food op­tions. Hav­ing man­age­able por­tions avail­able means less waste and in­vites re­turn vis­its. Have a stack of small re­cy­clable plates, flat­ware and nap­kins avail­able at ev­ery sta­tion. A one-stop cleanup sta­tion can be set up out­side the kitchen for con­ve­nience.

A side of cof­fee and tea

Side ta­bles are great for adding decor and can­dles, but we like to use larger ones as the cof­fee and tea sta­tion. Dig out the fine china and use the cof­fee and tea pots with match­ing cups and saucers, so guests can help them­selves.

What’s bet­ter than a bar cart?

Two bar carts! Let them do the heavy lift­ing! One for desserts, one for the drinks. Keep the bar menu sim­ple so guests can help them­selves. We used the ad­ja­cent en­try hall, closer to the kitchen, for re­plen­ish­ing drinks.

Add the hol­i­day hygge

Fi­nally, add a cosy layer: lovely stock­ings hung by the chim­ney, scrump­tious throws and squeez­able pil­lows. Then, light the fire­place and add guests. Trust me, no one is go­ing to miss sit­ting at the ta­ble.

Use stock­ings, throws and pil­lows to cosy up your en­ter­tain­ing space

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