Carrying out a Dinner Party Theme

Carrying out a Dinner Party Theme

 Last, but not least, part three of my interview by Bonjour Events for Dinner Party tips. We asked Cindy Zuccarino of Ciao Tavola how she tastefully carries out a dinner party theme for her clients.  Below is a great excerpt from her interview.  Theme dinners are fun.  It is important however, to keep the decorations tasteful.  You don’t want your guests to think they are at the local amusement park or at your child’s birthday party. Once I hosted a fundraiser dinner – the theme was “A Trip to Italy”.  The handmade invitations (your guests will appreciate the creativity and effort) were written in Italian, thanks to my Italian mother-in-law. I also included an English translation.  Upon arrival, my guests were treated to Prosecco and Italian-style appetizers.  After 45 minutes, I summoned them to the family room where I had an opera singer waiting to serenade them for the next 45 minutes.  The singer was a complete surprise! Dinner was served on my Deruta place settings…all the while, opera CD’s were playing softly in the background.  We finished the evening on the terrace enjoying my homemade Tiramisu and coffee. Your dinner party can be whatever you make of it; it just depends on how much energy you invest.  Remember…the idea is to have fun!

Essentials to a Beautiful Dinner Table

Essentials to a beautiful dinner table

Part two of my interview with Bonjour Events for Dinner Party tips. Part three, coming soon.

With the entertaining season around the corner we asked Cindy Zuccarino of Ciao Tavola for a crash course on creating a beautiful dinner table.  Known for her elegant, yet relaxed dinner parties, friends began asking Cindy for help planning dinners in their homes and thus launched her business Ciao Tavola, helping bay area hostesses create unique dinner parties. Below are her top five tips for creating an attractive dinner table.
1) A must for a beautiful table is unscented candles.  Try to use different sizes and heights using odd number quantities.  Dim the overhead lights – you want to see what’s on your plate, not your neighbor’s facial blemishes.

2) Fresh flowers, without a doubt will soften any table…keep strong scented flowers to a minimum.  Using greenery such as branches, bay leaves or pine (watch the sap!) or vines gives the table a cozy, rustic look.

3) Name cards are a good idea.  Be creative!  If you are giving parting gifts, tie a name card around them and place on top of the plates.  You can also use a photo (small, of course) of each guest in a frame and place at each seat – the frame can be the parting gift, too.

4) I like to remember to use the rule “less is more” and give your guests personal space at the table.

5) Try to stick to three colors; one dominant and two complimentary.

Thank you Cindy. Watch for a few more tips from Cindy this week.

Preparing for a Dinner Party

Preparing for a Dinner Party

In 2008, I was interviewed by Bonjour Events for Dinner Party tips. Here is part one. Two and three, coming soon.

Prepping for a dinner party is never an easy task. We asked dinner hostess Cindy Zuccarino of Ciao Tavola: What are five things every hostess can do to feel more prepared for her next dinner party?

*  When creating your guest list, consider who you are inviting…make sure there are not underlying problems.  If you know there will be a couple/people who do not know the other guests, think ahead for a common thread.  It is up to the hostess to make sure everyone feels included.

*  Try to come up with a general menu at least a week ahead of time.

*  Learn from your mistakes!  If something did not work before (food, people, conversation), do not do it again.

*  Create a general “to do” list.  Try to think of everything, especially things that don’t have to do with the food like reserving the babysitter, taking the dogs to the kennel, etc.

*  Make a mental note of a rough time-table for the evening…how long will cocktails take, at what time should the guests be seated, etc.

And most importantly, be flexible, relax, and always have a good sense of humor!


Cookies in a Henhouse


I lost count but this may have been the 13th annual cookie exchange. Catching up with long time friends, sipping coffee and noshing on these sinful treats. What’s not to like?

I look forward to these annual festive get-togethers because it signals the beginning of the holiday season (Black Friday? child’s play compared to this coffee klatch).  Most of us moms met approximately 15 years ago through the elementary schools our kids attended. We have gone through many things together; mostly good, but some bad. We have watched our kids grow up and go off to college.

Listening to all the updates this morning, I realized the conversations have changed through the years.  More so this time as many of us are empty nesters. Back when the kids were in elementary school, the conversations centered on which teacher was the devil incarnate, or how busy we were schlepping the runny-nose ankle-biters to their doctor appointments, soccer games and play dates.  When middle-school rolled around, the hot topic had to do with school dances, clothes (or, lack thereof) and boys/girls. The high school years were a different ball of wax. We soon realized our kids were not angels, after all. The conversations were still about boys/girls, but sex and drugs were an unwanted addition. Solid reasons to meet weekly for happy hour were plentiful.

Today, we talked about college updates. We were excited! News was good – kids are doing well, very stressed, but generally, doing well. Moms chatted about their new jobs, hobbies and travels. The room was electric and loud, everyone talking at once, drinking coffee and eating. The voices getting louder and louder because our hearing is not as keen as it once was. The energy from all the cackling in the room is probably similar to that of a large henhouse right before each hen drops an egg.

This morning, the last sentence uttered at the end of each conversation was, “it will all work out and everyone finds their way”. Now that I am home, I will ponder that thought as I devour each one of these sinful treats.