Thursday, September 24, 2009


The spiced pumpkin lattes are back at's fall y'all! Cardigan sweater sets, football, pumpkin bread, craft fairs, 5k races, pumpkin pie with cool whip, soups in the crock pot, all the autumn scented candles from Yankee Candle, and hot apple cider...These are a few of my favorite things in the autumn season!

Kick Off the Holiday Season!

Whether your holiday entertaining plans include a Halloween trunk-or-treat display (these are all the rage in the South), a festive cookie swap, or a formal dinner on Christmas day, with a little savvy planning and incorporating your personal style, you will be able to host a memorable holiday event.

Here are some ways to begin planning your event:

~Decide on a date, time, and venue.

~Create a theme.
Some occasions are easy to figure out a theme you want to use; i.e., tailgating--the theme would be based on the sport, using the team colors and serving foods that complement the environment of the venue. Try to choose a specific element/color inspiration and incorporate that--starting with the invitations, continuing through the event, and ending with the party favors and thank-you notes, if gifts were received.

~Make a budget and try to stick to it!

~Create your guest list.
When creating your guest list, remember that the first guests on your list should be people who have invited you to their home. Even if you did not attend, etiquette dictates that you still need to reciprocate that act of hospitality.

~Choose your invitations.
Invitations set the tone for your event and provide the guests information about the theme and formality of the event. Whatever style of invitation you use--phone call, mail, evites, et cetera, be sure to provide all the necessary information that your guests will need to know:

Name of hostess
Name of honoree
Type of event (Luncheon, Formal Dinner, Surprise Party, et cetera)
Day and date
Venue Address


Invitations should be received no later than two weeks prior to an informal event and no later than six weeks to a formal event. Invitations should be phrased in the third person. It is not proper etiquette to mention gifts or a gift registry on an invitation. If the guest wants to know the information, they will ask the hostess when they R.s.v.p!)

~Choose the style of dining.
Will you have a breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, informal dinner, or a formal dinner?

~Choose the style of service.
Buffet Style--guests pick up part or all of their meal from displays on a dining table, sideboard, or countertop.

American-Plated--the food is portioned on plates in the kitchen and served directly to guests at the dining table. Food is served from the guest's left side and removed from the right side. Beverages are served and cleared from the right side.

Family Style--guests serve themselves from large bowls and platters placed on the dining table. This style of service originated in the South.

French Style--the food is partially prepped in the kitchen and brought to the dining table on a cart (French gueridon). The food is then fully cooked in front of the guest. This type of service is considered to be very fashionable.

Russian Style--all of the food is cooked and portioned in the kitchen and then presented at the dining table on silver trays. Each guest is served individually from the trays. This is a very impressive style of service.

Butler-English Style--the food is portioned on trays in the kitchen. The trays are held by the Butler and guests at the dining table serve themselves by using tray utensils.

~Plan the menu.
When you are planning your menu, consider the season and occasion. An inviting menu is a balance of bland, strong, sharp, and sweet tastes, with foods of different textures, temperatures, and colors. Be careful not to duplicate tastes; i.e., if cheese is served in a hors d'oeuvre, do not include it in another dish. Serve crunchy with smooth foods and don't forget to be colorful in your selections. Stay in your culinary comfort zone. If pigs-in-a-blanket are your specialty, serve them--I certainly do and they are always a hit with my guests!

Remember there are no set amount of courses you must have, formal or informal; there are suggested courses you may have. Your table setting will allude to what you will be serving. An informal menu may include as few/many courses as you choose. Here is an example of a formal dinner menu:

Fruit Cocktail
Sherried-Base Bisque (Served with a glass of sherry)
Turbans of Scallops & Petite Potatoes (Served with a glass of white wine)
Crown Roast and String Beans (Served with a glass of red wine)
Herb Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing (Serve no wine with a salad)
Pecan Pie ala Mode (Serve with Champagne)

So, this is a bit of information to get you started planning your holiday event. Stop in tomorrow and I will be blogging about "Setting the Stage" for your event and "Preparing Your Home/Venue."


Kara said...

What is a Trunk or Treat??? I am showing my ignorance....

Miss Janice said...

Miss Kara,
Why you simply must fly down and spend the weekend with me soon....maybe for Halloween, as I'm having a party on the porch! I think you've gone and lost your mind child--a "Trunk or Treat" display is great for groups to celebrate Halloween in a parking lot of a church or wherever. You decorate your trunk, tailgate-style with spooky decos and distribute treats to the children. Again, please call and book your visit with moi for your dose of Social Graces...Southern Style! Miss you:)

Pug1 said...

Fantastic post...looking forward to part two! CHEERS! Michele

M. L. said...

Dear Miss Janice,

Please show us photos of your parties - and please dont forget the recipes!

Posh Peach said...

I just love your list of fall favorites! Many are mine as well. Thank you for the tips to throw a great event as well. I am itching to have a gathering once I'm settled in my new place. Happy fall!

Anonymous said...

Hi Miss Janice!
I have been going back and forth with ideas on what to do for my 40th b-day party. Do I throw a big bash at the club? Do I host a small gathering at home? Do I take just my BFF's to DC for a night?

In the end, I wanted something elegant but that didn't require my having to do a lot of work or planning sooooo:

We decided to go to The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs VA!! And several other couples that we are best friends with are going with us! I am sooo excited!!

The Homestead is the epitomy of elegance and hospitality and one of my favorite places and I can't wait to share it with my favorite people!


Ashley Turner said...

Great Post Miss Janice!

Anonymous said...

Think you made me fall in love with this time of year all over again!

Headbands and Hand Bags said...

Such a very organized list! I better start planning some festive and fun!

Anonymous said...

What great ideas! Thank you for the post!

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Looks like your Fall is off to a great start! What wonderful plans yo have -- thanks for the tips #1 and we'll look forward to tips #2!

Nanette said...

Very, very fun. I'm starting to feel the urge for some festivities! Your little teapot in your last post is adorable. Love the tips!

LillyB said...

Hello Miss Janice!
Great post. I was just thanking the good Lord for fall! These cooler mornings are so nice!! I look forward to cooler evenings as well. I really look forward to your parties!!
Have a beautiful day!
Love Lilly

Larie Carlice Proverbs 27:19 said...

Hello Miss Janice!

Do you have a printable version available? I would like to have your tips readily on hand when I need to refer back to them.

I do not want to infringe on your rights as the author, so this is why I asking. I also do not plan to reproduce or share these tips, I will strictly be using them for the purpose of planning my own events, with all credit to you of course!



Princess Freckles said...

What a great post! Your tips are very helpful!

A "Trunk or Treat" party sounds like loads of fun! I'll be in Florida this Halloween, but perhaps next year my fiance and I should teach the Notherners about this fun tradition?!

CRICKET said...

This lovely post makes me want to throw a party!