Having a house full of guests can make for a delightful evening. And connecting over food is often a common part of entertaining family and friends. Naturally, the kitchen is a key location when it comes to food, but let’s not overlook the dining room. It’s a perfect place to chat while sharing scrumptious feasts.
It makes sense for our rest and relaxation series to take on the dining room as our next focal point. In a Global News article called Relax when you eat – it’s more important than you think, author Erin Letson weighs in on relaxation and eating. “Being in a relaxed state allows the production of adequate digestive enzymes and lets our parasympathetic nervous system – also known as the “rest and digest” system – do its thing, ” Letson says.
So let’s explore some possibilities for making your own dining room a great place for you and your guests to mingle—and relax.
Keep it calm and low-key as appropriate
For some, an upscale occasion is the height of enjoyment. But others may feel out-of-place at a dinner that seems too fancy. As the host, count it your job to know your audience, or rather your guests. If most of them prefer casual environments, then, by all means, play to that.
After all, what’s the use of a beautifully high-end setup if no one truly enjoys it? In short, sometimes paper plates and paper napkins rival fine china for creating an enjoyable experience for your guests.
Depending on the occasion you’re hosting, you can vary the candle height. Tall candles might be a beautiful addition to a formal tablescape—as long as they don’t obstruct the view or impede conversation. But tea lights or votives in a candle holder are also beautiful.
Note: Candles are appropriately relaxing in other areas of the house, too. And when you have company, putting a candle in the bathroom is a great idea. That is, as long as you can keep it safely out of reach of any little children. Choose a favorite scent and let its smell and its glow make the space a cozy retreat.
Naturally, if you want guests to be able to mingle, you’ll need to leave room for them to do so. If your dining area is so filled by your table and chairs that there’s not much room to move around, then you might need to revamp things.
Leave some room for people to stand in small groups and chat companionably. Plus, you can even consider introducing some comfy chairs and end tables if your space is large enough to accommodate them. These could provide built-in areas for knots of conversationalists to form. A high table with chairs might also be a fantastic addition to your space.
Offer spots to set down drinks and plates
Admittedly, it’s quite awkward to manage both a drink and a plate of food while standing. If your meal or your appetizer puts guests in a position of juggling both of these items at once while trying to mingle, take care to provide level surfaces where they can get a break from the balancing act. Tables, sideboards, and china hutches are possibilities.
Play soft music
Unless your crowd is so large that music would be overwhelming on top of the existing conversation, consider investing in a speaker that can add gentle melodies to your space while people mingle. Just be sure you keep the sound at a comfortable level—err on the side of quieter rather than louder. And remember to pick a playlist that everyone can enjoy.
Hot drinks, toothpicks, napkins easily available, preemptive directions to the bathroom…all of these are little things that can add a lot to your guests’ experiences. Offering coffee and tea to your guests could go a long way toward making them feel comfortable. Not only are the drinks tasty in their own right, but sometimes it’s easier to mingle in a crowd when you have something to hold while you wander and chat. It does away with the question of what to do with your hands.
Choose the menu wisely
Of course your guests will appreciate the ambiance of your space, but they’ll also appreciate what they do there. Select guests with this idea in mind—be sure to include some people who are great at reaching out to others. And also mastermind a menu with your guests at the top of your mind. Choose delicious food and drinks that everyone will enjoy.