So you’ve done all of your preparations and the guests are soon to arrive. Make some room in the coat closet or plan where you will put your guests’ coats, purses, etc.
Serving the Meal
Make sure that everyone has wine or the beverage of their choice and have water ready as well. It’s nice to make a little toast, even to just say “cheers” and welcome your guests at the start of a meal. You, as the host, should decide what wine to serve; if guests bring you wine as a gift, you are under no obligation to open it unless you have requested it specifically, although you may if you like.
You may choose to serve a plated meal, or serve food on platters to allow guests to take their own portions. Make sure that all platters have serving utensils so guests do not need to use their own. You should have salt and pepper (preferably fresh ground) on the table. With the exception of wine and possibly a nice bottle of sparkling water, you should not have any commercial containers on the table. If you need to serve something from a jar or package, put it into a small serving dish before offering it to your guests.
In terms of courses, as we mentioned last week, you can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. There is nothing wrong with a simple one-plate home-cooked meal, and a multi-course affair with wine pairings also has its place. However elaborate the meal, make sure that it is planned and prepared enough so you can still be relaxed and have time to spend with your guests.
As the host, you should clear dishes and allow your guests to sit and relax. Wait until the last person is finished eating before you clear. If it is a casual dinner and you have good friends who absolutely insist on helping, you may decide to let them. Do not stack dishes at the table, but rather take plates away only as many at a time as you can manage without stacking. Clear off as much as possible before serving the next course.