When I was a little girl I was captivated by my Aunt Essie’s charm.
She was interested in others. She made you feel special the moment she opened the door to greet you. She was the hostess with the mostest! She had a warm, natural charm that filled the room as she sat at the head of her beautifully set holiday dining room table. The aroma of delicious foods wafted through the air. The candles in her candelabras showed off her gorgeous china, silver and crystal.
We all compartmentalize our role models.My mother instilled within me the curiosity to live outside the box in all areas of my life. My Aunt Essie, whose style included entertaining, taught me how to make a home sing. I daydreamed that when I grew up my home would have the same welcoming feeling.
Aunt Essie entertained in her apartment in Chicago, at her beach home at the lake, and on the shore of Lake Michigan. Visually and emotionally I wanted to take in everything in about her style. She understood that being a successful hostess was an art.
To this day she is my definition of a woman who knows how to entertain with MOXIE.
She and my uncle spent summers at their beach home on Lake Michigan. When my mother, my Aunt Essie and my uncle were children, my grandmother and grandfather, on my mother’s side, purchased a white wood cottage with a picket fence on the shore of Lake Michigan. As the family grew larger they moved further up the beach, and that is where my memories of Aunt Essie’s style of MOXIE began.
Aunt Essie would serve Sunday night dinners to family and friends at the lake house. Delicious comfort foods of fried chicken or New York strip steaks, fresh corn on the cob from the outdoor vegetable market, a huge tossed salad with multiple veggies or creamy coleslaw, and for dessert cold watermelon or apple pie and ice cream. The table was surrounded with generations of family members and, often, guests, with everyone talking happily because Aunt Essie set the mood. She made every person at her table feel special.
When my cousins and I were children we spent sunny days at the beach, swimming, boating and building sand castles, but we’d stop everything when we heard the horn blowing. That meant it was time to run up to the beach house to help Aunt Essie carry down picnic baskets of food for a lunch of grilled hot dogs served on buns with every condiment imaginable and of course chips, cold fresh fruit, ice cream bars and popsicles. Aunt Essie knew how to entertain with MOXIE, even at the beach. She always wore a brightly colored bathing suit, a big sun hat, bright lipstick and a smile. She laughed, loved us all and made us feel special. I am blessed to have had such an important role model.
I was like a second daughter. We were kindred spirits, soul mates because we thought alike. To this day when I buy new linens or set a table for guests or pick fresh vegetables at our outdoor vegetable market across the street from my condo in the sky, I think about Aunt Essie, wondering, “Would she pick this ear of fresh corn?” I was sure of one thing…when she left each stall, the person serving her felt special.
It’s All About Your Style – How YOU Entertain With Moxie!
I learned from Aunt Essie that a successful dinner party rests on the shoulders of the hostess. It is her style, her MOXIE. Style has to do with “all of our ideas.” Style comes through in our warmth and personality, in our flair for detail, in our ability to create an atmosphere that is entertaining and comfortable for our guests. A hostess does not need a big budget or a large home; she has to know how to please her guests in the setting she has. She needs only a million-dollar smile and a sincere interest in her company. That is entertaining with MOXIE.
Let’s get to the “meat and potatoes” of how a hostess entertains with Moxie. There is nothing more important than the first impression. And that comes in the form of your invitation.
The Invitation: Not An Evite or Email
Whether you are having a dinner party for six or a large formal affair, a personal invitation through the mail establishes the tone. This is the first telling part of what lies ahead. She takes the time and personally invites you to her home. She sets the style of the evening by showing her interest in you with a hand-written invitation or her favorite pick of an invitation card. This is MOXIE.
Your Home is Your Castle
My ultimate concierge does just what a great concierge does, he helps me set the mood for the evening. He really is a host with the most. He is in charge of creating the mood with the lighting and music and flames dancing in the fireplace. He is in charge of the bar.
We welcome our guests as a couple. The music playing as guests come inside sets the mood for what lies ahead.
I decided that the bar area in our home should feel intimate. I want my guests to almost touch elbows. This creates closeness. My goal is to blend old friends with new acquaintances. Conversation is immediate when an area is cozy and tight. I make certain that I am well organized for my party so each of my guests feels I am interested in them. As I keep saying, “A hostess who is interested in each of her guests has real MOXIE!”
After a cocktail hour of one hour, my ultimate concierge and I lead our guests into the dining room.
A dining room table should be magical. Mine is aglow with tall Chinese redwood candlesticks of different heights with lit candles galore, festive china and crystal, and orchids tucked into wheatgrass running down the length of a table that seats fourteen.
Seating is Determined By the Hostess: Not the Guests
Buffets are not my choice unless I have no alternative. I prefer sit down dinners that create a lively group setting with non-stop conversation. Seating arrangements require a well thought-out plan. A hostess with MOXIE shows her guests she is interested in their happiness. She crosses her T’s and dots her I’s.
Guests feel at ease when they see place cards at each setting.
No musical chairs at my table. I solved this long ago when I bought reusable china place cards and a trusty magic marker. Voila!! I use and reuse. My guests are relaxed and without anxiety as they look for the seat chosen by a considerate hostess. I plan my seating like I plan my menu. I want to make my guests happy. l am in touch with my guests’ personalities and know that a guest’s dinner partners can make or break an evening.
Dinner Begins with A Toast
Background music is playing. The candles are aglow. The salad is already served, wine poured. My ultimate concierge starts our dinner party with a welcome toast. He ends each toast asking our guests to hold up their wine glasses as he says, “And, God Bless America.” When we have guests who are meeting one another for the first time, we often break the ice by opening the party with a round of introductions. This is a great ice breaker and fun. Let the party around your table begin!
Give a Speical Small Gift To Each Woman Guest
This is certainly not necessary, but I do it on occasion. If I see something that catches my eye and is not expensive I give my women friends a gift. I bought small rocks at a fair with a special word on each rock. My friends loved the gift. I have given a long-stemmed rose, a small crystal pen to keep beside the phone or in their handbag, and a variety of other items. It gives me pleasure. That is another way to entertain with MOXIE.
What Makes Your Guests Want to Return
Every single thing that makes our life fuller and richer is worth doing. Every successful hostess with MOXIE knows entertaining must be fun. It must be fun for the guests and fun for the hostess. It must be fun to plan, fun to give and fun to go to. Unless it is…it isn’t a party. And, who makes this happen?…the hostess. A hostess with MOXIE sets the mood with her style, her preparation and her infectious smile as she throws open the door and greets her guests. She is at her happy best, anxious to please and genuinely interested in each and every guest who enters.