Dinnertime can be the most festive time of any holiday. Inviting people to share a dinner at your home is a personal and heartfelt invitation! Some people are traditionalists, asking guests to come for a meal, expecting to retreat into the lounge or living room.
If you separate after you have enjoyed a meal together, it’s a shame to lose out on the warm, relaxed, after-dinner talk. By creating a dining experience, and a table with the right atmosphere in mind, you can encourage them to relax, sink into their chairs, and keep talking.
Setting up the room
Comfort is of utmost importance if you want to spend more time gathered around the table. Softer chairs, velvety cushions, any furniture that you can sink into, will encourage your guests to settle in and stay at the table. If you are starting with straight back chairs, even shallow cushions can encourage your guests to stay in those chairs a little bit longer!
People underestimate the power of color to influence behavior. When it comes to food, however, the area is very well-researched. It’s no coincidence that fast food logos typically contain red, yellow, orange or green – particularly red and yellow. These are known to trigger hunger and induce excitement.
That’s great if you want a steady flow of customers to your restaurant, but getting your special guests to stay at your dinner table is a different art. I hope some of the ideas listed below, will inspire you use your colors wisely.
Bright colors, including table decorations or flowers that are yellow and red, capture the excitement and bustle of arrival, meeting, and first sitting down.
A white tablecloth is more formal, but a red tablecloth will stimulate the appetite. Red napkins are another good idea. Further along the same path, colorful cocktails and starters are a good way to begin your meal.
As the food is served, remove the flowers or other table decorations. This will create more space, but also help everyone move away from that high energy beginning.
While white crockery will be a lovely contrast to the food and the rest of the color-rich décor, you could change the colors of the plates to match the mood for each stage.
Let the food inspire your palette. You can arrange your meal by taste or even by holiday traditions. If you are looking for colorful suggestions, spinach greens, salmon pink, and some rich blueberry blues are some suggestions for this stage.
These colors invoke luxury, relaxation, softness, and plenty.
Always consider the lighting in the room. Make the lighting in the room slightly dimmer as your guests begin their food. You want enough lighting to see who you are talking to and what you will be eating. The room should be generally on the softer side. It allows everyone to focus on what is going on at the table, versus what is going on around the room.
To keep the colors of the table décor interesting, change the color of some dishes on the table or maybe just the carafe or jug. The color of the wine may also change.
The magic of transition
By subtly changing the room during the meal, you can lull your guests into a state of contentment – aided, of course, by your wonderful food. Make sure your dinning experience continues to be interesting, and transitioning your colors throughout the meal and help make that happen!
You might want to save lighting candles until you have reached the desert stage.
Introduce your desert with a new set of colorful dishes to spark your guests interest.
You might want to reintroduce some bright red to help them make room for desert. If you are bringing anything through with a tray, use cloths or other lining material to introduce new colors. Keep color as part of your dinner experience, especially as you move towards serving darker colors, such as coffee, and dark chocolate.
Entertaining is about having the best time with friends and family. Use color to encourage people to have a good time, entertain them while they are at the table, and urge them to stay at the table longer. I hope you enjoy lots of great meals with family and friends, and that you try using color, to make your dining experience better than ever!
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/89608886@N00/748095908