Delightful Dining: The Atmosphere

cc1In parts one and two of our “Delightful Dining” series, we discussed the people and meal planning. Today we’re going to talk about setting a proper meal atmosphere.

Atmosphere Planning

Much of the set-up, except the actual cooking, can be done the day before, so keep that in mind if the meal is set for a weekday, or for breakfast or lunch hours.

Choose music, if you’re having any. Soft dinner music can be relaxing as a background noise, but it’s not necessary, so decide if you’re going to have music, and if so, have the CD ready and take it with you when it’s time to prepare for the meal.

Allow ample time. If dinner is set for 6:00PM, don’t show up at 5:30! Everyone should meet several hours in advance to clean and prepare without feeling rushed (which can lead to stressed, snippy words). If there is extra time, people can touch up their look or just relax for awhile before company arrives.

Clean the house. Everyone should help with this. Closets and basements don’t need cleaned out, but areas that company will be in should look and smell presentable. Put uncaged pets and their food dishes in a different area of the house (or outside), and make sure to disinfect the areas they were in. Scrub the bathroom, clear off and sanitize kitchen counters, vacuum and mop, and make sure things are straightened up so the house has a tidy, welcoming feel in general. If pet or other odors linger, light scented candles, and if possible, open windows to let fresh air in for a really clean scent.

cc22Set the table. Use a pretty tablecloth, fresh flowers, or a candle to decorate the table. There’s no need to buy anything––someone involved will probably have something that can be used. Make sure there are enough chairs for everyone, and if an additional table needs set up, this is the time to do that. Fancy dishes don’t need to be used, but the table can still be set properly for a pulled-together feel. Steps 4–8 on eHow have helpful table-setting tips. Name cards are optional, but whether formal cards are set out or not, make sure to give the guests the best seats.

Cook the meal. Non-cooks can help by chopping items, stirring food, washing dishes as they’re ready, or getting out and putting away ingredients as needed. Doing this will save the cook a lot of time and energy, and will help the overall cooking process to run smoothly.

Finishing touch. Transfer food to pretty serving dishes if possible, and place everything neatly where it will be served to complete the look.

Coming up

Next, we’ll talk about serving guests, then we’ll discuss entertainment ideas, as well as give menu suggestions, so check back soon!

By Davonne Parks

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