4 Formal dinner party themes
"Sometimes, less is more both in fashion and entertaining, so I always like to serve simple but refined rustic fare such as cheese, grapes, honey, apples and nuts," says Catherine Malandrino, who hosted her own cocktail party this week in honor of her Limited Edition Cointreau bottle. Formal dinner parties are, indeed, the first occasions on which a lot of us feel like grownups. But elegant isn't the only way to go. We can make them fun or frisky -- or anything our minds can conjure up!
When you imagine a winter party, do you picture snow on your windowpane? Go with it. Decorate your house and place settings in as much white as possible -- embrace the white/silver element as much as possible. Think snowflake decorations and backdrops. The white background with formal dinnerware will create elegance, but feel free to fun it up with a white dessert buffet! Use fake snow, snowflakes and strategically placed snowmen.
A Dickens Christmas
Do you have an appreciation for the classics? Create an old English-themed dinner, suggests Phyllis Cambria, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Throwing a Great Party. Consider damask or brocade linens, ornate dishes, chargers, stemware and flatware, and serve a traditional English supper with a beef roast or a goose, Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes and fresh green beans served with a mulled wine or grog.
Celebrate the Newness
For a New Year's Eve celebration that embraces the start of new things, create a menu of items with a "new" theme: New England Clam Chowder, New Potatoes, New Orleans-style shrimp and New York cheesecake! This is also super-fun for celebrating a new house, a new baby or a new job.
Celebrate the holidays in vintage style with an old-Hollywood themed bash, suggests Colleen Mullaney, author of It's 5 o'clock Somewhere. Start with the invite -- perhaps a black and white photo of Hollywood legends, or a vintage-style photo of a champagne glass. Use a silver metallic marker to send a sparkling message about the soiree. Decor should be easy but stylish: Black and white paper lanterns for dimension, accents of silver and crystal, and festively glowing candlesticks and candlelight. Photocopy vintage photos of stars and place them around the party space for added fun. Fresh or faux lilies in silver cups give a colorfully fresh retro feel.