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The Anatomy Of An Elegant Dinner Party

The next time Jennifer Connolly has a sit-down dinner party, we expect an invite! Read more from Jennifer on her blog, A Well Styled Life.

 

Hosting a sit down, elegant dinner party seems to be getting tossed aside for more casual affairs these days.

The Anatomy Of An Elegant Dinner Party

Don’t get me wrong. I love block parties where you bring your own main course to grill, plus a side dish to share. And I’m certainly no stranger to the pot luck, group effort. They’re fun and remove major stress from the hostess.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

But what I really love to give are lingering dinner parties, proceeded by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Then followed by Cognac, dessert and espresso.

Guests usually ask what they can bring and my answer is “a smile”. If I’m orchestrating a dinner party, and that’s what I’m doing, I want control over the food, presentation and atmosphere.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I buy my flowers 2 days in advance, so they are open and full for the dinner.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I plan the menu several days in advance and always try to choose items that will allow me to spend time with my guests, not slaving in the kitchen.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I wore my new Trina Turk dress with some silver chains for a California Casual look. Wearing vibrant color is new for me but I thought it would be a fun contrast to all the white.

With everything ready in advance, I have plenty of time to dress and be relaxed when guests start arriving.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I’ve been known to iron folds out of the tablecloth on the table.

I make sure my napkins and tablecloths are clean and ironed.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

If the silverware is tarnished, it get a good polishing.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I set the table the day before the party.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

It’s not a good idea to put highly fragrant flowers on the dinner table. They compete with the smell of your food and affect the taste.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

These Hyacinths and Lilies were so fragrant they got placed in the front hall.

 My husband must have missed the only white flower memo so the pink Tulips he bought ended up in the powder room.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I made these small arrangements with unscented Roses for the table.

~~~

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

These small arrangements march down the center of the table in parfait glasses.

I put new candles in our candelabras and fresh, 8-hour votives scattered on mantle, window ledges and tables.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I’m quirky about new candles. I always light them for a quick moment, then blow out, before placing them about. I dislike the barren look of unburmed candle wick, which just looks sad to me. It reminds me of people who have good things they save for later, then later never comes.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

Have you noticed how many times you’ve sat at a dinner table with brand new, unlit candles and they remain that way for the entire meal? Why have them if you’re not going to use them?

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

We started with cocktails and appetizers in the living room.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

Then we moved into the dining room after I’d put the salads on the table.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

Salad and dressing were prepared and waiting, in the refrigerator, to toss. I also had the fish, vegetables and other dishes read to go in the oven before they arrived. Dessert and its required plates were on the side table, ready to be served.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

I like toasted Pecans and sliced strawberries on green salads.

I looked over my shoulder during dinner to make sure I wasn’t dripping wax down the wall and spotted this reflection in my mirror.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

We had dessert in the living room, as the candles burned low.

The Anatomy of an Elegant Dinner Party

Music is crucial. I prefer instrumental over words. For these type of dinners I keep the volume medium-low as people arrive. Later I turn it quite low as the evening progresses. It’s strictly for atmosphere, not karaoke!  I hate having to shout over music to be heard.

FOOTNOTE: An hour before the guests were due, my husband decided to go buy an outdoor fireplace. It came in a box in a million parts which he proceeded to spread all over the patio and start to assemble. If I hadn’t had everything organized, I probably would have flipped out. But I did, so calmly went upstairs to dress, leaving him to the gazillion bolts and parts, pliers and screw drivers.

Do you give dinner parties?

Jennifer Connolly

Jennifer Connolly celebrates the unique experience of women over 50. As a Certified Image Consultant and Personal Stylist, she empowers women to develop their image, personal style and self confidence. Her blog, A Well Styled Life, gives women the tools to appreciate their beauty and fully embrace the joys of midlife. Jennifer is a blogger, writer, wife, mom, grandmother. Pro-aging troublemaker, searching for the perfect foundation shade since 1973. Instagram: awellstyledlife

Jennifer Connolly

Jennifer Connolly celebrates the unique experience of women over 50. As a Certified Image Consultant and Personal Stylist, she empowers women to develop their image, personal style and self confidence. Her blog, A Well Styled Life, gives women the tools to appreciate their beauty and fully embrace the joys of midlife. Jennifer is a blogger, writer, wife, mom, grandmother. Pro-aging troublemaker, searching for the perfect foundation shade since 1973. Instagram: awellstyledlife

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Doreen McGettigan

Thursday 14th of May 2015

The table is lovely, love the candles and I love the strawberry an d pecans on greens idea.

Jennifer Connolly

Saturday 16th of May 2015

It's a nice mix of dry toasted pecans and sweet strawberries.

Tammi

Wednesday 13th of May 2015

Such a beautiful party! You are correct that formal dinner parties are rare. That makes them more special! I love the flower arrangements on the table.

Jennifer

Thursday 14th of May 2015

I just love the ease of a dinner party. For me, it makes conversations flow more intimately. And it's a great way to connect friends with others you know.

Laurie

Wednesday 13th of May 2015

Your dinner party looked beautiful. I love the all-white flowers, so pretty. I also like that you kept your cool when your husband decided to assemble the outdoor fireplace right before guests arrive. My husband likes to run for out for "a quick errand" fifteen minutes before the doorbell rings. Drives me crazy.

Jennifer

Wednesday 13th of May 2015

What is it about husbands that makes them decide something is that critical, at the exact wrong time?

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