Learning to Linger: Lessons in entertaining at home

Learning to Linger: Lessons in entertaining at home
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It's funny how life works: one day you make a new acquaintance, and the next day you're dining at their home. So it was with Chan and I. I had only a few weeks ago done a tour of the engineer -come-photographer's chic studio, and I was now receiving an invitation to dinner. She informed me that dinner would be in the garden, and I heard no more after that because I was sold on the idea and thoroughly consumed by my imaginations of how divine that would be.

One thing leads to another: Enter MOY

Soon Chan put me on to Moy, the effervescent personality behind "Moy's Glutten Free Kitchen". To my pleasant surprise, I learned that Moy, while both proficient with and passionate about her gluten free concoctions, also had a background in Interior design. Soon Moy contacted me and, with her contagious creativity and congeniality, we became fast friends. 

Linger:Supper Club you say?

Moy and Chan filled me in on the delicious details of their Supper Club event: dinner at a private home (pot-luck style) with a view to bringing both food lovers and creatives into fellowship over shared interests. I quickly learned that this would be their inaugural dinner, and the theme was "WHO ARE YOU?" (fitting, n'est-ce pas?) .The ladies envisioned that guests would come with their signature dish, and a willingness to mingle and share with others their talents.

Jumping into the mix

Before I knew what was happening, Moy began involving me in the planning of the event, sharing design layouts and Pinterest inspirations. I was immediately impressed by her clear vision for the event and her keen sensitivity to detail. At first, the idea was for the tables to be set up in a shaded, grassy area outside the house, but temperamental weather all week long led to a change of location to a covered patio. 

 Example of spatial layout

Example of spatial layout

 Example of the table setting

Example of the table setting

 

 

After going back and forth on things related to space planning, I asked Moy about menus and food labels, and found out that I could contribute there. Unknown to many, I make personalized cards, invitations and wedding stationery under the name Kard Kollectibles. I decided to make some lovely dinner stationery my contribution, since I had been added to the dinner after the menu had been finalized. Moy provided an abundance of supplies for the project from her personal stash of materials, and I supplemented with my own as well. Design of the dinner motif- a face mask made of leaves, was my interpretation of the "Who are you?" theme. 

 

It's supper time!

The evening of the dinner came and I arrived an hour and forty five minutes before show time to find the patio already set up. All that remained to be done was for me to set up the food signs, inspirational quotes and menus, and to help with the finishing touches: like setting out the cutlery at each table setting, and finishing up the take-away tokens for guests.

  The fully set table before guests arrived

The fully set table before guests arrived

It's all in the details: Table setting notes

1. Start with a neutral base:

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For this setup, Moy and Chan opted for white tablecloths and brown paper as the base, then added layers of  white crockery and off-white napkins. Offsetting white crockery with clear drinking glasses, (water and cocktail), mason jars, and even clear wine bottles for holding candles, kept everything along the same, muted visual theme. Cutlery was stainless steel, with similar silver water pitchers for cohesiveness.

 

2. Keep Garnishes Simple and Fresh:

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Chan added sprigs of Rosemary to the cutlery settings, both for aesthetics and fragrance, and plush heads of Bougainvillea into short clear glass bottles filled with water, to enliven  the table.

 

3. Add Flair with signage and notes to guests:

It was my pleasure to add inspirational quotes to reinforce the dinner theme, and to provide sturdy menus that guests could take away to remember the event, contributing to the luxurious feel of set up.

 

FUN WITH FOOD: PREP AND DISPLAY TIPS

Of course, the main part of dinner is an exquisite menu, and Linger #01 did not disappoint in that department.

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OrganiSe for Arriving food:

Organizing and labeling the dishes so that guests could plop them into place upon arrival was a must for this dutch dinner. For your dinner at home, follow suit by making the workflow clear for arriving guests so that no one is left standing and confused with trays of food in hand.

 

CROCKERY PICKUP AND DISPOSAL:

Moy remembered to add simple conveniences like dishcloths (coordinated with the colour-scheme) and a secure place for both crockery pick up, and disposal to ensure flow and function. At your next soiree, dinnerware locations should correspond to their functions and the flow of guests from Entree to Dessert should be a fluid loop (as space allows).

FOOD AS DECOR:

To keep within the modest budget, food was set up to double as decor by being grouped together in such a way that the varieties in colour and texture could be appreciated. When you try this at home, intersperse fresh flowers with seasonal cuttings from the garden, or bouquets of fresh herbs depending on availability.

 

 

LIGHTING FOR DINNER

One thing that many people miss when planning for events in low light conditions, is how much lighting affects mood and ambiance. Gratefully, this detail was well covered at Linger. Typically, one should think about positioning several sources of light to maintain visibility; but for intimate dinners like this one, stick to as few lights as possible to encourage conversation. If the seating arrangements are spread out, ensure that each location has lighting visibility commensurate to its setting and function. 

In our case, the main dining table was lit by candlelight, while lamps and flambeaux were littered around the garden near to informal seating arrangements, to encourage guests to mingle in a more lounged posture, and to prevent them from feeling confined to the formality of the main dining area.

It is also advisable to play with contrasts between lighting and music to guide the emotions of your guests, making the party either more relaxed or energetic as the night wears on. This can be especially important if your event includes speeches, dancing and the like. Both sound and light changes can act as unobtrusive indicators for points where the program transitions from one activity to another.

 

 

MAKING SPACE FOR PEOPLE : Facilitate, but don't force

At the end of the day, the true success of your event lies in how well people interact, and enjoy both each other, and the space. I think Linger was a raving success, as I managed to bond with the guests, and find out about their interests through intimate and engaging conversation. 

When hosting your home event, please note the following:

  • Take time to document your event, if that is important to you. You may want to freeze those memories in time.
  • Don't feel the need to force guests to interact. Instead, provide an environment that facilitates natural mingling among attendees. Guests will relax  as soon as the right mood sets in and they stock up at the food and drink stations.
  • Don't get nervous when you see guests with phones in hand: they may just be taking numbers and adding each other's Instagram handles.

Encourage your guests to come again with a little take-home token: a sign of your generosity, and your desire to host them well. At Linger #01 the guests left with home-made pepper from Moy's (literal) mother-in-law.

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A FINAL NOTE

If you still do not feel confident to host your own home dinner after this post (or even if you do), be sure to look out for a Linger:Supper Club event coming soon.

LINGER HOSTS

Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen -@moysglutenfreekitchen

Introvertly Bubbly Creative- @introvertlybubbly

COLLABORATIVE PARTNERS

Con Brio Furniture & Gift - @conbrio.tt

Built Without Hands (and Kard Kollectibles brand)- @builtwithouthands@kardkollectibles

LINGER SUPPER CLUBBERS

Trinidad Weddings- @trinidadweddings

Lime and Spoon- @limeandspoon

Roastel- @roast.el

Unique Concepts Limited - @uniqueconcepts.wi

Carmel Valley Estate- @carmelvalleyestate

Giselle @dancegiz

Vernette- @vernetteoutloud

Ruhi- @living_life1.0

Cyndi- @cyncyn141

Nathalie- @natnat_vee

Victor, Nadine & Nikki

LINGER SUPPER CLUBBERS TOKEN 

Pepper Sauce: Prepared and Packaged by your Linger Hosts.