Green Door Hospitality

Adventures in Everyday Entertaining

Setting the Right Atmosphere for Dinner Guests

Red and Brown Tablescape with Fresh Thistle

As mentioned in my post about the Olive Bread, we had friends over for dinner the other night.  This meant pulling out the handy tips on Menu Planning for Guests that I wrote about over a month ago.

The challenge:

  • Dairy allergy
  • No red meat or pork
  • Utilize the garden Roma tomatoes that are coming out of our eyeballs.
  • Guests enjoy vegetables so make sure to have something “green and leafy”.
  • No alcohol

The solution:

The salad was basic but delicious with the pasta dish.  It also worked out having the cheese on the side.  That way those who wanted some were free to without hindering those who didn’t.

Greek Salad

When I initially talked about Menu Planning and having guests over, I focused on choosing the right menu based on the needs of your guests.  In this post, I thought I’d touch on a couple of the other factors that you should take into consideration when having people over for dinner to make the experience as pleasant and hospitable as possible.

Time Things Accordingly! 

What time you have people arrive, what time you eat, and what time will they be leaving should all be considered.  If it is on a weekend it may not be as much of an issue, but during the week when there are work schedules involved, this becomes a big factor.  We live out in the country so I always figure that we need to make sure dinner is done and eaten at a somewhat reasonable hour so that way guests have the option of driving home before it gets too late.  Timing also is about scheduling your cooking time so that you can actually enjoy your guests company — and that it doesn’t take too long before dinner is served.  One of the things I like to do if I am making a dish that cannot be cooked ahead of time is to prep all the ingredients so that everything is ready to go once I start actually making the recipe.

Ingredient Preperation

Lighting Sets the Mood!

This pertains to two things.  One is actual lighting.  You want to fill your home with the right balance of light so that it gives a feeling of comfort.  Also make sure the front porch light is on.  Nothing worse than making your guests walk out into the darkness after a lovely evening.  The other half of lighting is candles.  Candles always makes a home feel more inviting and pleasant.  It is a great little touch to add to your guest’s experience.  A lit candle is also a really nice touch for the bathroom your guests will be using for the evening.

  Oil Lamp

Other Factors to think about:

  • Fresh flowers
  • Clean house
  • Temperature control
  • Coasters out and visible if you don’t want their drinks directly on furniture
  • Music
  • Drink preferences
  • Close doors of rooms and closets that you would prefer your guests not going into or seeing

11 comments on “Setting the Right Atmosphere for Dinner Guests

  1. pillowsalamode
    July 27, 2012

    Such lovely tips, as always! And your table setting looks lovely! 🙂

  2. Sybarite Sauvage
    July 27, 2012

    I’m OK with almost all the restrictions your guests had (I’m assuming it was your guests’ restrictions and not your own). But no alcohol? That’s just not cricket!

    I will also assume that your guests are not charter members of AL-ANON. Then I could understand.

    Otherwise, I will serve it, but you don’t have to drink it.


    • Beyond The Green Door
      July 27, 2012

      The restrictions were based on the guests’ needs.

      No alcohol for one night — can think of worse things. 🙂 Generally take whether we ourselves drink if a guest does not on a case to case basis.

      • Sybarite Sauvage
        July 28, 2012

        Fair enough. And, with all sincerity, I say that it makes you a supremely considerate host. There is a place in heaven for you (if there is a heaven).

        Not that we drink every night– though we have something many nights. 😉 But, along with food, laughter, singing and dancing, in our house wine plays a large role in our celebration of life.

        Still if we had to do without, the celebration would continue…

      • Beyond The Green Door
        July 28, 2012

        🙂 I know exactly what you’re saying.

  3. thingsmybellylikes
    July 28, 2012

    We just had guests over a few nights ago and it was a mad whirlwind getting ready for them. I’m the kind of Type A planner that needs everything done well in advance so I had a lasagne made two nights before, a blueberry pie made the night before and a full-on house clean in advance. Worth it though to sit and enjoy good company, good food and a clean dining room 🙂 P.S Your table is beautifully set, love the colours

    • Beyond The Green Door
      July 28, 2012

      Yeah, I always feel that the more prep you can do before hand, the more you can enjoy yourself with your guests! Thanks for the compliment on the table 🙂

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