Any Day is a Day for Celebration
June 1st, 2012
Peggy Fiandaca

Some people fear entertaining like others fear public speaking. I do both on a regular basis and use a lot of the same techniques. My first rule is to remember that in both instances it is not about you and all about your guests or audience. When your focus shifts to creating an atmosphere for your guests to feel welcome and have fun or your audience to learn something of value, the attention is away from you. But like anything, it takes a little pre-planning.

When my red-headed Irish mom from the back hills of Kentucky married into the large Fiandaca family, she became the best Italian cook in the Chicago Italian neighborhood where they lived. I learned from the master about entertaining. It had nothing to do with money because they were very poor but it had everything to do with making people feel special and welcomed. And everyone was welcomed at the Fiandaca’s dinner table. Another thing I learned from Mom was that any day is a day for celebration; a meal together with friends or family is special and should be done often.

So here are some simple tips to make celebrating easy. Everyone should have a special meal they are known for and make really well; like a signature. Mine is of course Italian food. Check out some of our recipes on our website that can make you a super star!

Take the time to set the table for your guests. This doesn’t have to be expensive but it shows you care. We went to a dinner party for 8 to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday and they served the sit down dinner at the dining room table on paper plates and brought the vegetables to the table still in the pan.

What this told me was that her husband and guests were not important enough to wash 8 dishes. Everyone should have 8 place-settings of some kind; they don’t even have to match.

  My favorite part of pre-planning is creating a special atmosphere or setting the table before my guests arrive. The tip here is to use what you have to let your personality come through.

I use mason jars a lot filled with layers of dried beans with a votive or frozen cranberries or fruit sliced in water with a single branch or flowers I cut from the yard as centerpieces.

I like to include groups of three on the table. I always use cloth napkins because we try to reduce our paper consumption and it adds an elegant touch. But remember, you can mix and match them and they don’t have to be expensive. So look around your home for everyday items that can help you set a special dinner table. Then invite some friends over and make them your signature meal. This is how you create memories for you and those you cherish.