Day 26. Serve the Food: Learn to be Creative!

The guests have arrived, you’ve made your introductions and everyone is having a great time, drink in hand, mingling and enjoying appetizers. The music is humming in the background and there’s a yummy smell in the house.

Entertaining reminds me of Thanksgiving Day, when life smells of really good things. Turkey. Family. Friends. Thankfulness. Love. I always know that a good time is about to take place.

My favorite way to entertain is a sit-down dinner. I love to plan ahead, set the table, and serve my guests. But thinking back to my early days of entertaining in a home of less than 1000 square feet, I had to be creative.

I explore the different options for serving in my new book, The Reluctant Entertainer, even various dinner party ideas, but the easiest, least-stressful way to serve a meal is buffet style.

I now have a long center island that works beautifully for serving, but some other options are:
– clear off your piano or desk or sideboard for dishes or food
– set a piece of plywood or an old door on sawhorses or book shelves and cover with a beautiful tablecloth
– transform your dining table
– set up folding tables in your living or family room

Entertaining for me is a bit of work up until it’s time to serve the food. You have to be organized in bringing it all together. People are depending on you to make it happen.

But once the guests get the food on their plates, and I serve myself, I can relax …..

Ahh …….

Have you learned to be creative in the way that you serve your guests?

Have you missed out on Days 1-25? Catch my Stress-Free Entertaining posts and inspiration, HERE, along with the other 31-Day bloggers! You will be blessed!

   

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20 Responses to “Day 26. Serve the Food: Learn to be Creative!”

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    Lynn from For Love or Funny — October 26, 2010 @ 2:52 am

    I love to serve food as a buffet; it naturally encourages people to interact. Come to think of it, I should probably start serving family dinners a la buffet as well. It’s hard for me to remember that my kids are teens and they don’t need me to serve up their dinners any more! :)

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    Rachel — October 26, 2010 @ 3:59 am

    Your kitchen looks gorgeous! I have an old dresser that I painted and stuck in the dining room to hold linens and extra dishes, but that could work as a place to serve the food. I’m always wondering what to put on the top of it anyway. I don’t think I am brave enough to serve food on the piano!

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    april — October 26, 2010 @ 5:46 am

    When we do a large gathering of any kind(that means involving anyone but our immediate family!), we always serve buffet-style. It saves steps.
    I haven’t thought of doing that for weeknight meals, too, because usually I just serve plates from the stove and the “dinner helper” carries them to the table, but the buffet would work. I may give it a try!
    I don’t think I could serve food on the piano, either! :) Great idea if you’re really pressed for space, though!

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    4
    Danielle M — October 26, 2010 @ 6:07 am

    Its your friendly, non-stalker-yet-commenter-to-make-you-laugh person checking in here, just to say that your posts make me smile. :)

    I told you about the young ladies that have come to think of my home as a retreat spot (I don’t expect you to remember, b/c you’re so popular and stuff, but as a memory jogger, I provide food, they provide ice cream! :) ). One of them has been staying with me for a few days, and I have tried something simple: setting the table instead of eating in the living room. While I’m not technically “entertaining” her, per se, its been really neat to see what conversation and loveliness that simple act fosters. Sounds silly, I know, but remember that I’m a single gal that lives alone, so I do not often eat at my table. I’ve been thankful for the simplicity of it, and have taken some hints about lovely, simple centerpieces so that its special, even if just for two of us.

    And yes, I am queen of the run-on sentence.

    :)

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    5
    Danielle M — October 26, 2010 @ 6:07 am

    Its your friendly, non-stalker-yet-commenter-to-make-you-laugh person checking in here, just to say that your posts make me smile. :)

    I told you about the young ladies that have come to think of my home as a retreat spot (I don’t expect you to remember, b/c you’re so popular and stuff, but as a memory jogger, I provide food, they provide ice cream! :) ). One of them has been staying with me for a few days, and I have tried something simple: setting the table instead of eating in the living room. While I’m not technically “entertaining” her, per se, its been really neat to see what conversation and loveliness that simple act fosters. Sounds silly, I know, but remember that I’m a single gal that lives alone, so I do not often eat at my table. I’ve been thankful for the simplicity of it, and have taken some hints about lovely, simple centerpieces so that its special, even if just for two of us.

    And yes, I am queen of the run-on sentence.

    :)

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    6
    Maria — October 26, 2010 @ 7:08 am

    We usually do buffet style. Easier and it gets everyone up and involved.

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    7
    kirstin — October 26, 2010 @ 8:24 am

    We often do buffet style. I may put things like bread, or other re-fillables on the table, but the main food on the kitchen counter or island. During holidays I put it all on the table and we pass it around!

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    lisa — October 26, 2010 @ 8:50 am

    I think my favorite creative way of serving a dinner was a “fireside” dinner. I used our fake fireplace {scored from Cost Plus after Christmas…used as a display!!!} to serve dinner it was so much FUN. My punch bowl was a bit too wide, so I cleared out and washed my HURRICANE vase as a punch bowl. It was sorta thrown together, but our guests loved it!

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    melody- — October 26, 2010 @ 9:25 am

    I just love this blog and so look forward to your wonderful posts!

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    darcy @ m3b — October 26, 2010 @ 10:55 am

    I don’t entertain much – but we prefer buffet style. It’s not as formal, but my entertaining style is not. And usually the hostess is running around so much, it’s the only way guests can eat at the same time in my house. My kids are still in the need lots of assistance stage, so it frees everyone to feel comfortable taking as much or as little as they’d like. :)

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    Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience — October 26, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

    I love how you inspire us, Sandy!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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    Vickie — October 26, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

    We had such a fun gathering Saturday night! Good friends, good buffet appetizer-type-food (my meatballs and Kahlua bunt cake turned out so yummy and friends brought other delish treats), lots of laughter, lots of candles…NOT perfect (no one noticed the imperfections) and really, really fun. I’m already planning on a next time. Thank you, RE, for the encouragement to step out of my comfort zone and into enjoying a cozy gathering at MY HOUSE! :)

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    Debbie Smith — October 26, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

    I love a buffet, Often times with a large group it is faster than passing dishes around a large table or among a few tables. I always feel the group is more relaxed as well. I know I’ve said it but great job on this series I have enjoyed it immensely

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    Gina — October 27, 2010 @ 4:56 am

    I love to serve my guests, too. I love the Sunday lunches with my big family and a couple of friends around. I prepare the food together with my mom.

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    Bobbie — October 27, 2010 @ 5:36 am

    My dinning room only seats six, if there are more than 6 guests, it is buffet style. Our kitchen is VERY small with very little counter space. My husband cut a piece of wood to fit over the top of our gas stove (We gave it a nice finish) and we use that to hold the serving dishes. This has given us the extra counter space we need. Our dining room would never accommodate a separate serving table. This is not the classiest solution, but it works.

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    Elizabeth in Wisconsin — October 27, 2010 @ 6:53 am

    With a large family of eight and a usual crowd when we entertain, it is virtually always buffet style. For us, it’s really the only way to go. And even a buffet can be elegant! :)

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    Terry O'Rourke — January 1, 2014 @ 10:04 am

    Hi, I’m so glad I found you all, need all the help I can get….
    I’m a nervous wreck entertaining…
    So I’ll probably be writing quite often,
    I want to learn, but hate the nervous feeling For days before D-Day…
    My friends enjoy entertaining,
    Have tons of experience and want me to do the same,,,
    I find it nerve wracking!!!
    Thanks for being here….
    Gives me more courage…
    I have a nice house,
    Think I’m a pretty good cook,
    But the timing of the food ?! Too much! Not enough?
    Where to put it all ( one oven) one fridge?
    It all just terrifies me

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — January 2nd, 2014 @ 10:34 am

      Terry, email me and we can come up with a plan for you. Easy menu, make-ahead, and then a goal of finishing everything 30 minutes prior to the guests arriving! I think this will help you with your nervousness! Thanks for sharing here!

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