“This is rather forward of me,” came the text from my cultured friend Lisa, who sits on the board of our city’s Philharmonic Orchestra. “I’m wondering if you guys would be interested in hosting a ‘Connect with the Phil’ event in your new home …?”
My first thought was she meant to text someone else. Lisa knows DC and I moved into our home just two months ago, and there are many swankier houses around.
“Oh my,” I text back, woozily. “What all would be involved?”
She fills me in. The Philharmonic would cover the costs of all food, drink and catering, and handle invitations and RSVPs. “All” we would need to provide is our home.
“I’ll ask DC tonight,” I text.
That night at dinner, I pour him a glass of wine and roll out Lisa’s proposition. A very long pause follows. I half expect him to ask if I am out of my ever-loving mind, which is valid. Instead, he asks the quintessential question: “What all would we need to do?”
I have a list, of course, which I whip out.
“Just cuffs and collars,” I say. I explain how in college my sorority sisters and I would iron only those parts of our blouses before pulling on a sweater. We looked crisp, but underneath, our shirts were as wrinkled as fall leaves. “Only what people will notice.”
Before the matter is settled, however, someone from the Philharmonic event committee must come by to make sure the venue will work. This someone arrives the next morning with her assistant. Within a minute, they assure us it will.
Curious about what those real estate ads that bray, “Great house for entertaining” really mean, I tuned in to find out what what the pros look for:
- Location, location, location: Tops on their list is a home on a street that is easy to find, and central for guests.
- Ample parking: Unless you hire a valet, you want to make sure the surrounding streets can support a good number of cars.
- Access: The catering company will need a place to pull up, set up, and access the kitchen, without navigating through guests. At our house, they can pull up in the driveway behind the house, and access the kitchen through a laundry room, where they can hide their equipment.
- An inviting entry: The planners looked for a place by the front door to set up a table to greet guests.
- Enough space: A big kitchen is a benefit because that’s where guests like to gather. If the kitchen opens onto a spacious family room or great room, even better.
- Flow: More important than space is flow. Rooms that open onto one another, without doors, foster mingling.
- A powder room: A good entertainment house has a powder room designed for guests.
- Outdoor area: Access to an outdoor area, whether a terrace or patio, is a plus.
- Traffic control: So the guests don’t get too dispersed, close doors to rooms you don’t want them in. Putting a catering station in front of a room that’s off limits is another good way to keep guests where you want them.
- Multiple seating and dining areas: Great conversations don’t happen in big groups, but in small clusters.
Entertainment houses offer a variety of comfortable spaces for guests to eat, drink and talk. Don’t worry about having a seat for everyone. Many guests stand, lean and roam.
Marni Jameson is the author of two home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go”. You can reach her at www.marnijameson.com.
Published at Wed, 07 Feb 2018 19:02:35 +0000