Flooding Susie’s Inbox

June 4, 2009

The Ideal Southern Hostess

Filed under: Entertaining, Southern Stuff — sashyjane @ 11:34 am

Hospitality is just as synonymous with the South as sweet tea itself.  What makes Southerners such great hostesses? Can someone be taught the art of making guests feel comfortable and welcome? Why not? Martha Stewart’s created an entire empire on that very idea.  However, you don’t have to hand-carve miniature busts of your guests from chocolate to impress them.  All it takes is a little extra effort and some beautiful entertaining staples.

Being a fantastic cook is not integral to being a good host or hostess (although it doesn’t hurt!)  Your guests will be thrilled with simple dish when it’s presented to them in an irresistible fashion.  For example, before your guests arrive, fill a cut glass or crystal bowl with assorted nuts or candies for an easy special touch.  A cut glass bowl is a super versatile and beautiful accessory to have on hand for floating candles or camellia blooms or for housing small floral arrangements as well.  The facets and bevels sparkle beautifully in candlelight and heighten the sophistication of a room even when empty on the coffee table. While you can’t go wrong with a classic maker like Lenox or Tiffany, gorgeous replicas can be found at discount retailers like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx for a fraction of the cost. Lenox.com

crystal bowl

Once your guests have arrived, offer them a glass of iced tea, lemonade or your own signature drink. But for heaven’s sake, don’t, under any circumstances, pour out of a plastic pitcher! A simple glass pitcher with clean lines will work for any occasion no matter how casual or formal. If your party is a bit more formal, a cut glass or crystal pitcher will fit beautifully but an ornate piece isn’t necessary. A monogrammed pitcher will always be in style and even makes a great wedding gift.  williams-sonoma.com

pitcher

You’d be hard-pressed to find a good Southern hostess worth her weight in sugar who didn’t have a deviled egg plate in her china cabinet. The egg-shaped indentions keep the Southern delicacy from slipping and the center of the plate is perfect for pickled okra, asparagus, sweet pickles or sliced olives. Use the plate at Easter to display colorful eggs.  You can find beautiful cut glass or bone china varieties at antique shops on EBay at great prices.   surlatable.com

egg plate

You absolutely cannot go wrong when serving your guests on a silver platter or tray.  Everything from tea sandwiches to beef tenderloin looks simply stunning when presented on polished silver.  Good quality silver probably isn’t something you’d want to rush out and buy.  A silver collection can take years to acquire whether the pieces are given as wedding gifts, handed down from generation to generation or picked up along the way at antique shops and estate sales.  If you so desire, Reed & Barton offers a gorgeous variety of styles from modern to traditional. reedandbarton.com

silvertray

It would be a pity to present your meal on sparkling silver and crystal but serve it with a large kitchen spoon or plastic utensil.  Choose serving utensils that complement or match your flatware and china.  It isn’t necessary to use only sterling silver spoons and meat forks; decorative or whimsical pieces make a nice accent to the table and can enhance the ambiance.  These fun pieces by Lenox are great for a spring or summer party. macys.com

serving pieces

In that same vein, to serve guests on paper or plastic plates wouldn’t be deplorable but nothing beats a gorgeous place setting.  You don’t necessarily need bone china to impress your guests; a versatile good-quality set of dishes will serve you nicely.  A solid color or simple design can be dressed up or down with chargers, complementary linens, accent plates and by mixing and matching different patterns.  Martha Stewart makes great everyday china that’s timeless and versatile. macys.com

martha china

However, if you love the look and feel of fine china, you can never go wrong with a basic pattern that’s bound to stand the test of time. macys.com

lenox china

For dessert, serve your pound cake, layer cake, cookies or brownies on a decorative cake plate. Whether porcelain, silver or glass, a cake stand adds height, drama and sophistication to a buffet or centerpiece.  Stack a few of varying sizes on top of on another for a tiered effect or serve a cheese ball at the coffee table before dinner. A pretty cake plate is easy to find at discount retailers like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx but the detail found in this Williams-Sonoma cake stand will have your guests talking. williams-sonoma.com

cake plate

Post originally published at VeryVera[dot]com.

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