The party season is almost upon us, bringing with it plenty of opportunities to put your selection of servingware to the test. When it comes to entertaining, you can never have too many serving accessories and having the correct serving utensils can make all the difference to an occasion, be it a formal dinner party, Christmas drinks with friends or a more raucous New Year’s Eve gathering. We’ve put together our top 10 serving essentials that we think no host should be without - do you agree?
1. Trays are invaluable to have around the house. They’re brilliant for serving drinks at a party or carrying plates of food to and from the dining room, and can also be used to create a bar area on top of a sideboard or console table. When placed on an ottoman in a living room, a tray provides a stable surface on which to set down food or drinks, and of course, comes in very handy on the (rare) occasion when you fancy breakfast in bed.
2. Whatever the time of year, serving platters will always come in useful. Try to include a selection of different sized platters, chargers, plates and bowls in your armoury that cover an array of serving scenarios, from canapés at a party to salad at a barbeque to a cheese board at the end of an evening.
3. Smart placemats can make a real difference to your table, adding another dimension of colour and texture, whilst also protecting the table underneath. Consider the shape of your table when choosing your placemats – round, square and rectangular work on any shaped table, whereas round tables look best with round placemats – and also make sure that your plates will fit on them!
4. Don’t restrict coasters to the dining table: place them around the house wherever guests are likely to set a drink down, including bedside tables, side tables and coffee tables. Whilst coasters ensure surfaces remain free from unsightly drink rings, they often make tables seem cluttered, so keep a set in a drawer close by that you can get out when required. And to prevent red wine rings staining a pristine tablecloth, why not invest in a bottle coaster?
5. Decanting wine not only improves its flavour, it also makes your table look much smarter. Varying shapes and sizes of decanters will create different effects: use two tall decanters at either end of a long table for an elegant and symmetrical arrangement, or a cluster of short, wide, coloured decanters in the middle of a round table for a striking centrepiece.
6. Jugs are vital for summer soirees out in the garden, when the hot weather calls for a constant supply of refreshments on the table. Save yourself trips backwards and forwards to the house by getting the most capacious jug possible and filling it with ice cubes so guests can help themselves to a cool, refreshing drink (or Pimm’s, of course).
7. A party wouldn’t be a party without an ice bucket, whether it’s used to chill a bottle of champagne or serve drinks ‘on the rocks’. One with a stainless steel double wall and a snug fitting lid will keep your ice colder for longer, but a large glass ice bucket can also double-up as a vase when not in use.
8. If there’s one thing that will put a stop to celebrations, it’s forgetting a bottle opener and corkscrew! This matching bone-handled set will make a rather ornate addition to your range of bar accessories.
9. Salt and pepper are dining table essentials, but there’s no need to hide them away in your kitchen cupboard. Make a feature of your condiments by presenting them in something beautiful, whilst adding an element of fun to your table decor at the same time.
10. Last but not least, ensure you’ve a bountiful supply of napkins. If you’re only catering for a small amount of people, mark the occasion with a crisp white linen or cotton napkin at every place setting. However, if you’re expecting a large crowd, good quality paper napkins – presented in a beautiful box next to canapés and drinks - will do the job perfectly.
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