Tis' the season for shopping, cleaning, cooking and cleaning again (then repeat). To up your entertainment game over the holidays take a few tips from the pros; restaurants. Sure restaurants do all the cooking and cleaning for you, but there's a few things you can learn that will morph a moderate dinner-do into an elegant evening of entertaining.
1. DIM YOUR DAMN LIGHTS - This is the one piece of technology that separates us from animals. The best 10 bucks you'll ever spend; a dimmer. Nothing kills an evening like bright laundromat lighting. Go to the hardware store and buy dimmers for your lamps. Ceiling lights off, candles lit and lamps on, dimmed please.
2. EVERYBODY BARTENDS - No guest should ever suffer the travesty of an empty glass. Have your guests bartend themselves. Keep plenty of wine on the table and spirits within arm reach. Guests don't mind doing it, trust me. Also, take a cue from Japanese entertaining; everybody is responsible for the person's glass next to them.
3. GIMME SOME TUNES - This seems obvious but it blows my mind how many people don't play music. I'm not talking about turning your joint into a nightclub, just something light in the background. Sometimes I'll even fire up iTunes and let my guests take part in creating a playlist. Everybody picks a few songs and we hit random. Super fun!
4. PLATTERS - This isn't done too often in restaurants but it's a lifesaver for dinner parties. Serving your meal family-style means less time spent in the kitchen, it allows people to help themselves to what they prefer, and it means less cleanup.
5. MAKE A MESS/BE A GUEST - Nothing's worse than a host incessantly cleaning during the entire dinner party. Your guests are there to spend time with you, not review your service on Yelp. Stack the dishes in the sink, sit down and pour another glass. Or hopefully another guest has poured it for you.