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Dress it Up! simple ways to spruce up a meal |  1 2 3
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Don’t feel compelled to use your serving vessels for their intended purposes – be creative. Try using wine glasses or goblets for all beverages – water, juice, soda … sipping from a glass with a nice stem just feels more elegant and grown-up. Another great use for your stemware: serve puddings, mousses, custards, sorbet, or ice cream in a cocktail glass. You can buy perfectly serviceable, cheap stemware at Target or Ikea; as always, garage sales and thrift shops are also good places to check out.

And remember, the purpose of a fancy dinner goes beyond nourishment – it’s an excuse to linger over good food while enjoying conversation with friends. The easier you make it for people to hang out at the table, the better. Keep water and other drinks at the table, so that you can re-fill drinks without having to get up and go to the kitchen. Old wine bottles make spiffy water dispensers – there’s really no need to buy fancy pitchers or carafes (although if you happen to have any, by all means use them).

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There’s no need to wait until you’ve got the antique dining table and the fine china and the real silverware to present a fabulous-looking feast. An elegant dinner party doesn’t have to be an expensive one. So starting sending those invites now!

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