how do you like to entertain?

by Sharon Santoni

[blank]As I sat upstairs at my desk this morning, I  heard my youngest son come home, laughing and chatting with friends.

It is the school holidays here, and they are making the most if it!  Places to go, people to see, you know how it is .  Yesterday evening they went to  a pre-Halloween party and a sleep over.  It seems that the morning-after party was  happening here with an improvised brunch.

I popped down to greet them then left them to it.  They are 16 years old now, and the last thing they want is me fussing over them in the kitchen.[blank]


[white]Someone plugged in the music, and as Jim started cracking eggs and frying bacon I could hear him telling his pals where to find plates,  flatware and orange juice.   One of the boys volunteered to light a fire, and before long the house was humming with  the quiet(-ish) sound of a bunch of contented teenagers and the delicious aroma of an open fire and morning bacon.

I couldn’t resist going down to enjoy the scene, and found six of them around a sparsely laid dining room table, eating well and cracking jokes.  Magic.

As I turned away from the room, I couldn’t help but think of all the dinners and lunches and brunches that have taken place in that room, all the mouths that have been fed, the lively discussions, the meals enjoyed.[blank]


[white]And I wondered about the chemistry of successful entertaining – for that is what my son, Jim, was doing.   It may just have been eggs and bacon, with orange juice and muffins, he still laid on a meal for friends.

 I, like most of you, love to lay a pretty table for friends, to set the scene.  I love the candlelight, the sparkling glasses the flowers on the table, the champagne, but this morning there was none of that.  And it didn’t matter one bit.[blank]


[white]So what are the most important things?  If you think back to the best meals you have laid on or been invited to.  The most memorable dinners, the most wonderful lunch.  What was it that made it work?

Was it the amazing food, or the scintillating conversation?  The soft music or a guest with a particular gift as a raconteur?  Was it a big dinner for 10 or twelve, or  a quiet dinner for four?

Personally I can remember dinners for the way the table was laid, or the choice of menu, but the ones that really stick in my mind, that I still recall now and then, are the ones where we laughed and talked through the night, and simply enjoyed the pleasure of good company.[blank]


photo 2 via google






ArchitectDesign™ October 31, 2013 - 3:43 pm

I prefer smaller groups -less stress and everyone enjoys themselves more because of it I think.

celkalee October 31, 2013 - 4:50 pm

As always, I look forward to your every post. Today you transported me to a time past. Life happens around the table, of this I am sure. The kitchen has always been the heart of our home and I think that is likely the same for you evidenced by the fact that your dear son has morphed into this role so comfortably. That said while I enjoy the impromptu gathering my greatest pleasure is to set a beautiful table with seasonal centerpieces and dinnerware to complement. I am a collector of dishware. Everything from Polish Pottery to fine Lenox I use it all. While each event is special because of those who are seated around the table, be it 4 or 24, I am thrilled with it all!

Thank you for this post at this time of year. Multiple holiday events are in the planning stages and I need to get a move on!!!

LaPouyette October 31, 2013 - 5:18 pm

So, where is the image of "this morning table setting, magic"?????

Marsha Splenderosa October 31, 2013 - 5:25 pm

At first, it's the table setting, the flowers, how lovely everything is. But, then it's the people. Absolutely, the people.

hostess of the humble bungalow October 31, 2013 - 5:29 pm

I like dinner parties of 6 or 8 as our home is small. But I have a desire to host a larger buffet this coming holiday season as I like to reciprocate the invitations that we get over the year.
Your son's breakfast looks delicious! How clever that he knows how to cook and host at such a young age.

Marilyn Leslie October 31, 2013 - 5:45 pm

I love to have my family come over. The meal can be as simple as hamburgers with a variety of toppings( all the rage here in Cleveland) or as complex as Thanksgiving. Just to have everyone in my home is a pleasure.

LMA October 31, 2013 - 7:25 pm

Lovely post. Reminds me of an essay my daughter wrote years ago for school when she had to choose something in her house that had significance to her and she chose our kitchen table because it reminded her of all the family and friends who had sat around it over the years and the memories it held for her. Even though she was only a teenager at the time I knew that one day I would give her that table. Married and expecting her second son very soon, the table now sits in her kitchen which gives me such pleasure and I know that she will treasure it always. As to my secret for dinner parties…no matter how simple or elaborate the host and hostess have to be relaxed and having fun, it sets the tone for everything.

Anna Smith November 17, 2014 - 2:49 am

I couldn’t agree more. A “? simple” kitchen table…if only it could speak

Blondie's Journal October 31, 2013 - 9:34 pm

I love all types of parties, especially giving them. I love to set the table, have the house sparkling clean and candles gently lighting it. The aroma of food cooking and the sound of people chatting and enjoying their cocktail. I think people truly love to be pampered. Whether its a silk tablecloth or linen, just knowing an effort was made is all there is to it!


Jennifer Clark October 31, 2013 - 10:19 pm

I love to open up my grandmother's solid maple, drop leaf table and set it for 12! The more people around my table, the happier I am. I love to cook. People can get so worked up about "entertaining". But, at least here in America, home-cooked anything is a treat. The easiest dinners I do is to make vast quantities of pizza dough and put out a bunch of different topping and let everyone make the it own pizza. Always great fun!

Alison October 31, 2013 - 11:31 pm

I've had and enjoyed the small gatherings, but I have to say that my most memorable was my first big Thanksgiving. I'm a novice and sadly it was a few weeks after my sister past away and she was the entertainer and had all the holiday gatherings. I believe she was there watching over us and helping. I had 27 people over and it was wonderful to have so much family and friends around to help us through that sad time. We shared many wonderful memories and enjoyed all the great food that everyone helped with.

Amanda R October 31, 2013 - 11:32 pm

Lovely post Sharon, I am not at all suprised that Jim would be so capable of following in the family footsteps 🙂 Last month I was guest of honour at a party for my birthday. There were only five of us for lunch, our host and hostess have been friends for over 25 years and are a wonderful country couple who have now retired to the Sunshine coast hinterland. Our friends have a beautiful home and gardens set over an acre, with a lot of native plants and a very special collection of ornamental trees from all over the world. Rainbow lorikeets were shrieking in the trees all day long. The lunch table was set beautifully and strewn with freshly picked flowers. Under the pergola is a lovely outdoor garden room setting and there was a delightful breeze. Lunch was a very large array of salads and cold meats with a magnificent triple layered birthday cake, iced by my friend's niece. It had been decorated with sugar rose buds in a soft lemon colour. There are many things the hostess had no control over on that day , like the weather (unseasonally hot Spring here in Queensland) and to some extent the garden, but all of the little things done with such great affection made it such a wonderful occassion. I will endeavour to remember next time I am the hostess, that it is the little things paid attention to with affection, rather than everything done to perfection, which is what makes a gathering truly special. best wishes, Amanda

Barbara Lilian October 31, 2013 - 11:33 pm

Now it's only Mr France & I at our table, so I love when we have the family here, the more the merrier, and it's not what we eat that makes it special it's the people. Although I do love to have a nice themed style table setting,. Great to read about your son cooking and entering his friends, my grandson is 16 yrs. old and he does the same for his friends.

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest November 1, 2013 - 1:42 am

I love both equially for different reasons – but boy oh boy did I love reading about your teen son – you must have been so danged proud of him…………..he got it from his mamma to be sure.


PamLuvsPink November 1, 2013 - 6:46 am

Hi Sharon!!!

Such a lovely post!!!

My two sons (29 & 22 yrs old) did the same thing and it didn't matter what time it was.
They always had their friends over and while they were eating away, they would talk about
projects that they had to do. My 29 yr old was in the theater and improv and they would always
act out skits and at times they've asked me to be the audience.

It seems like yesterday and then it feels like it all happened ages ago. I miss having the laughter
in the house from the kids. Sometimes I see them in the mall and I always get a hug. Great

Have a great weekend Sharon!!!


Mumbai November 1, 2013 - 9:40 am

The most memorable LUNCH ? When good friends pop in…you start chatter …perhaps a glass of wine or coffee? …Later on talks intensifies and everybody get hungry…what to do? rig something up from the fridge…some spaghetti, cheese,,some leftover nuts and of course more wine. Not thinking about time and …it's time for DINNER.

The enchanted home November 1, 2013 - 12:38 pm

Loved reading your commentary, I love when my house is buzzing with the sounds of my sons and their friends…..the best entertaining tip of all! Having people whose company you enjoy. Nothing like a beautifully set table with all my favorite things of course but its the people sitting there that really make it special.

Kim K November 1, 2013 - 1:23 pm

Lovely post! Could you tell me what is the dessert you have pictures? It looks divine!

La Contessa November 1, 2013 - 2:27 pm

They pick up on what MOM and DAD do and yes,the best parties around the table are those that don't care the cake did not set and "liquified "or the home made cherries that we warn people take a small bite and they put the whole thing in their mouth and have to spit it out!!Tis the people that make the party.I like you, love to set the table…….its a pleasure.
Sorry, I did not get a photo off to you!Just back from your country!Jetlag,laundry…… know the drill am certain.Slowly, moving back into this California time zone.I did have my photo taken by a REAL photographer there in the LOUVRE which you might enjoy!!Zip over and take a peek…..I am where you will be in a few years…….NO SONS,only four legged gorgeous beasties and a few chickens!I have to say I do not enjoy the empty house one little bit!So, its good you have a plan or your work that will keep you connected to people and on the hunt!!I would love to come and hunt with you one day!MERCI!

La Contessa November 1, 2013 - 2:31 pm

I am there with YOU!My sons are 24 and 26…………where did it go??!!

david terry November 1, 2013 - 2:47 pm

Oh….another EASY question. the most memorable meals/"entertaining" I've had in my old house are several times when a hurricane (we have those here) or an ice-storm blew through….wiping out ALL power…….except in my house, where I always keep prepped kerosene lanterns (I use them on a regular basis), back-up Kerosene heaters (much improved, these days), and five funtioning fireplaces (with with plenty of wood stacked under the eaves, thank you).

Several unwary/unprepared (or just elderly) friends always end up here as refugees…sometimes for days…bringing along whatever they've grabbed from their own power-less refrigerators or freezers….and we all play boy-scouts-on-a-camping-trip for 3 or 4 days. The last time we had a five-day, utterly BLACK-OUT ice-storm?…..I recall fetching a friend's 82 year old mother and and 91 year old father (whom I knew and like quite well) one by one and pulling them up to my house on the sled. It was all very jolly, to be honest….particularly once everyone set to work preparing what they'd brought. Scrambled eggs and sausage (cooked on the top of a kerosene heater and in front of a lit fireplace by a 91 year old man) is a very fine meal, indeed….and then we started breaking into the canned goods everyone had brought. It just seems a miracle (at these times of natural disaster) that you have anything at all, let alone friends who pitch in to help.

The only bad part is when they bring their oldest cat along with them….into my house, filled with rowsty terriers. Old ladies are infamous for smuggling cats into places where the cats aren't wanted (and won't like it, either, for that matter).

—-david terry

Cindy Albert November 1, 2013 - 3:48 pm

Loved hearing about your son. My sons are very into chicken tika masala. They have downloaded recipes, shopped for the ingredients and included their friends and me. The younger one will get totally upset if the older one alters the recipe at all. I love to see the creativity and commeraderie of the whole process. They will turn music on, light candles and make friendly jokes. You are right when you say it is all magic.

Emm November 1, 2013 - 4:22 pm

Yay for Jim for having good friends, knowing how to entertain, and for doing so brilliantly. And for you, because he's following your good example.
I like a beautiful table (yours are gorgeous, and oh, that wine bucket), and good food helps, but if the company isn't good, the best of those won't make it a memorable time.

Colleen Taylor November 1, 2013 - 5:45 pm

Beautiful post Sharon & those photos OH MY OH MY!!! Yes, I love to entertain & I have tons of times but it sure is a great deal of work. The answer to your question, is all of the above!

Julia November 1, 2013 - 7:21 pm

Que bueno me da envidia me comeria un trocito.Las fotografias me encantan, transmiten lo que nos quieres enseñar. Felicidades por tu bloc ha sido todo un regalo el visitarlo, espero que visites el mio.

Anonymous November 2, 2013 - 6:58 am

Hi Sharon my fondest memory was about 7 years ago my uncle and his wife came to visit from New York it was end of October they were not going to be able to stay for Christmas so I decorated the house a little earlier that year there were candles everywhere flowers on the table and beautiful food some ordered some home made the house full of people it was wonderful. I love hearing about Jim and his friends shared breakfast it sounds wonderful (a moment in time) to be treasured. Now if I can convince my 16 year old Lucas to start making breakfast. Your photographs are absolutely delightful as always. Thank you for sharing. Regards Esther from Sydney. PS have a wonderful weekend.

Karen (Back Road Journal) November 3, 2013 - 8:51 pm

I think it is the company of friends that I enjoy the most. The food, flowers and wine just add to the pleasure of friendship around the table.

Beats Monster August 27, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Hurrah, that’s what I was searching for, what a information! present here at this webpage, thanks admin of this web page.


Leave a Comment