If you’re anything like me, you have a couple of shelves in the kitchen (or perhaps an entire cabinet) of things that you only use for special occasions: the good silver, the expensive glasses, the beautiful serving trays. Chances are, these things never see the light of day, except maybe at Christmas, and perhaps not even then, if you can’t be bothered to get up on a chair and get them down from their hiding places.
I have a friend who entertains in her home quite often, and I noticed that every single time she has people over, she uses all her best stuff. Guests who have only come over for an informal gathering are invariably treated to meals and snacks served on fine china, or wine poured into gorgeous, fine crystal glasses. I admitted that it was nice to be using such beautiful things, but I asked her why she bothers to use all her “special occasion” items for occasions that weren’t all that special. “Why not?” she replied. After all, as she pointed out, there’s very little point in having nice things if you’re never going to take pleasure in using them.
But wasn’t she worried about breakage? “Not at all,” she said. Sure, there’s a risk that something might get damaged or broken, but if it does, at least it will have happened in the course of someone enjoying it, which is a far lesser tragedy than if it spends the rest of eternity gathering dust in a cupboard, only rarely being used or appreciated by anyone.
So I decided to take a page from her book, and I started using all the things I usually saved for Christmas. I also made an effort to buy all the nicest food and drinks for my guests. This was not because I was out to impress anyone, but more because I had noticed how nice it felt at my friend’s house to have that little bit of escapism, for things to be better than reality for a little while. Every time she announced that she was having a get-together, I would get excited, because each time I went to her house, it was a special treat.
My guests were surprised at first when I began dressing up my own gatherings, but soon they picked up on the theme, and even started helping out. Those who would usually bring discount wine started buying fine champagne instead; sandwiches on paper plates were soon replaced by caviar crostini on porcelain serving platters. Sure, there was some extra expense, but the difference it made in atmosphere was well worth anything that came out of pocket. In any case, people always offer to bring things, so the added expense was not entirely my burden.
You might think that if you start treating every gathering as if it were special, that pretty soon nothing will be special anymore. Personally, I have not found this to be the case. After all, it’s not like you have a dinner party every day. In fact, considering how busy most people are these days, any time friends can manage to get together, it is a special occasion. So why not treat it as such? Get out the good china, iron the nice tablecloth, and make sure everything is as beautiful and luxurious as it can be. Your guests will appreciate the effort, your most gorgeous possessions will finally get to be appreciated, and you and your friends can take the opportunity to celebrate life the way it should be celebrated, in grand style.