Linda Wofford, owner of The Everyday Chef, tells us how to host like a pro this holiday season.
Holiday season is coming up. What are your top tips when setting a table for Thanksgiving or a family occasion?
If you have seasonal china that has been part of your family for generations, I love to see that used so that it continues to be part of your family history. If you don’t, one of the best ways to make your table festive is to just pop a seasonal salad/dessert plate on your regular dinnerware for a completely different look. Today’s table settings are mix and match, so make it fun and start your own tradition. Of course adding new linens makes a world of difference in your tablescape as well.
Above all else, you and your family should feel comfortable for any occasion. If you set a formal table, use some creative ideas of how best to seat your guests. If you have lefties, consider seating them at a corner so they have plenty of room without bumping the person next to them.
You are known for being the “go-to” woman when it comes to bridal registry for chinaware, what advice do you most frequently give to brides?
We love registering brides and being part of the way the new couple will bring their style together as they begin their new lives. When a bride comes to us, we explain how the registry works at The Everyday Chef. Once we begin the registry, it is online through our website, TheEverydayChef.net, and can be viewed by her friends and family, and orders can be placed online as well.
We have a list of things that they will want to consider for their kitchen, such as table settings and serve ware, and that helps walk them through the process.
For china, the bride will have an array of beautiful patterns from which to choose. This is where her “style” will begin for her home. Many times the bride will think of only what she needs now rather than thinking ahead as her circle of friends grows, dinner parties become part of her routine, and family gatherings are held at her home. For place settings we talk about how many she will need “long term” rather than just thinking about today. If she has china that has been passed to her from a relative, we have her bring it in and perhaps add a piece or two just to make it unique to her taste.
The groom is also very important in the selection process as we see many more men cooking side-by-side with their mate. The men tend to choose the knives, grillware and barware, but many also help with the selection of china and crystal.
We encourage our couples to choose gifts in all price ranges for their registry so that everyone will be comfortable making a selection. We also encourage the couple to understand that the gift giver spends time and thought in choosing just the perfect gift so the couple will think of them when they use it, and as such a timely “thank you” is in order.
What do most people overlook when it comes to table settings?
Sometimes people overlook the small things in a table setting. We suggest small individual salt and pepper shakers to place conveniently for easy access. A candle or small vase at each setting also makes a beautiful statement that each person is special. Coasters at each setting will add an element of intrigue plus save your table from water spots.
In magazines you often see tables that look beautiful but there’s nowhere for the food to go. How do you accessorize without overcrowding?
When setting a buffet or table, first place your china settings and your centerpiece. Next, decide where each serving dish will sit so there is coordination when passing the dish. For instance, if you have creamed potatoes and gravy, place them so they are passed in sequence. As a hostess who is preparing the meal, we all know that timing is essential when serving. A tip – use a card to designate on your table where each dish will be placed. This will allow you to solicit help to get the meal placed properly and in a timely fashion.
Do you have any tips for making cooking more fun and less of a chore?
The first thing I suggest is GADGETS! There are so many unique, time-saving and easy to use gadgets on the market today to make cooking fun and take lots of the work out of preparation. One gadget that is fun and helps create healthy meals is the Spirelli which is used for vegetable noodles. So take a zucchini and use it with the Spirelli for zucchini noodles tossed with olive oil and garlic, top with grilled chicken and you have a tasty dish that is very easy to prepare.