I am often asked how I handle having a constant stream of friends and family over to our home. It is truly a rare weekend that we are not hosting a dinner. having a party or some sort of gathering or having out of town guests stay with us...and it brings me great JOY.
That happiness stems from having the opportunity to create a JOYFUL EXPERIENCE for those I love. Whether it is for a Sunday dinner or for a week long stay, my goal is to make sure anyone who enters our home is enveloped in the goodness that is our SANCTUARY.
For me that always starts with the table setting. Call me crazy, but I often set the table two days in advance of a get together. This helps sets the tone of the whole gathering for me.
As far as I'm concerned, there are no rules when it comes to setting the table or buffet. I grab things from throughout the house (and yard) to get the look I want. An herb box from my kitchen window...a great sign that usually sits in my office...all of these things come together to create the look I envision.
I have also found that by taking things from around the house and using them on the table or buffet, the whole feel is cohesive and fits into our home. Rather than be a disconnected space with completely different colors or style, everything flows together.
Taking into consideration the 'whole" experience for our guests is the key. Is it a casual Sunday dinner at the kitchen table with the smell of homemade cookies baking in the oven for dessert, or a gathering of new friends on the outdoor patio with wine, cheese and Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background?
Engaging all of the senses is such an important aspect of creating a great gathering. Music sets the tone in a subtle, but powerful way. A beautiful scented candle or those baking cookies make a strong impression.
I believe a beautifully set table let's our guests know that time and care was taken in creating a special environment for them but it doesn't require anything "fancy". I rarely get out the fine china and crystal. Instead I often use our everyday dishes and glassware and keep it casual. I got these white dishes here. Somehow this makes everyone feel as if they are part of the family.
Perhaps one of the most important elements for me is to infuse something MEANINGFUL into the experience. One way we have found to do this is to read a special quote as we all sit down to eat, or to place a quote card at each place. This usually starts an interesting conversation or discussion and sets the tone for our gathering.
So, in answer to the question, "How do you do it?"...
I focus on my desire to create a sense of JOY and WARMTH for those who gather in our home. To have it be a full and rich experience. All of the details come from that place, rather than from a need to create the "perfect" meal or table.
My hope is that everyone who gathers in our home will be able to experience a piece of the SANCTUARY that we are working to create and to leave with their hearts (and bellys) full.