I wrote this and sent it out two years ago, but in these frugal times, I think it deserves repeating.
The Ten Laws of Modern Entertaining. Or the things Martha Stewart is not going to tell you because none of us keep stylists on our payroll.
1. Carry out served on good china is suitable for company, any company from your boss to the Queen of England. Just make sure it’s good carry out.
2. Carry out served on paper plates makes you a “spontaneous hostess” and saves cleanup time (invest in cute disposeables)
3. She who dies with the most yardage wins. Collect patterned fabric, tablecloths and schemata where ever you can find it---it will cover a multitude of sins. If its not machine washable throw it out when you spill on it. Ethnic textiles are so in and can be found in dollar bins at the local everything store.
4. If one plate is not going to match, make sure none of them match. Same with glassware; that’s called eclectic table settings.
5. If the bathroom, the room you cook in and the space where you are dining are clean, you can have company over. (This could mean having a picnic in the living room if like me your dining room is full of your work-at-home projects) Only light the pathways to the rooms you want people in and its ok to disconnect the light bulbs in the rooms you do not want anyone to see.
6. You are allowed to only serve dessert if that’s all you can muster. Or only serve hors d’oevres—just make sure the guests know before they come so they do not eat your centerpieces from hunger.
7. If the house is a total disaster and it’s above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you are allowed to serve an “al fresco” meal. If it’s below 60 degrees, though, I would burn something. Bonfires are “quaint”
8. If the house is a total disaster, turn off all the lights and only use candles. Claim a power failure. Its “atmosphere”.
9. If you are not going to have time to change between the meal preparation and the guests arrival, wear all black to cook in and add a dashing accessory when the doorbell rings. Scarves are not a good choice unless you find one that does not show stains. I like metal for accessories myself.
10. It’s supposed to be FUN to have people over to break bread and converse.
As you can see, on the spectrum of hostessing, I fall towards the slatternly end of the scale. But everyone has a good time, so go figure. While it is wonderful to go to a sit down dinner on fine china in gowns and tux, my style is chili and beer while the kids fight over Halloween candy, or fried potatoes by the poundful at our annual latke fest. And if you are totally broke and still want to party, remember the potluck!