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16 People For Dinner and You Have 8 Chairs! Oh No!

Raclette Party for 14

First, find out if your building has a meeting table and folding chairs. 

I used to sneak and take the chairs and a table from the basement in my building.  Now I just ask my super and he brings them to my apartment so I don't have to ask any friends to come early and lug the table and chairs up from the basement.  Just be sure to return them, and give the super a tip if he does the lugging.

You should always have enough chairs for your guests, even if it is not a sit-down dinner. Nobody wants to eat standing up.  And a dinner party should really have both table space and chair space. 

If you like to entertain, invest in a table that opens up.  You probably don't want a giant table in a small apartment, so if you have a small table that opens up to be a large table, that's great.  I'm fortunate that my Aunt Mollie Bayroff left me her beautiful table that closes to about 2' wide and opens to sit 12 people.  Perfect for the City.

Everyone should be able to talk to everyone at the table.
People should be able to make toasts and pass dishes without walking to the other end of the table. My architect friend Marcella Del Signore told me to set the 2 tables next to each other.  If they are in an L-shape then the people at either end are left out of conversations and some people don't get to talk to each other all night.  She was right.  L-shapes don't work when you want good food, good wine and good conversation.

If you are going to entertain, have plenty of flatware and glasses and beware.  I bought my flatware in Spain and I really loved it.  But each time I had a party some mysteriously disappeared.  By the time I realized what was happening I was down to 3 coffee spoons, 9 forks and 10 knives.  I started with 12 of each.  I didn't realize that my friends were throwing my stuff away until I saw some forks in my garbage.  People kept trying to help clean me by bringing the lots dishes into the kitchen and scraping them off into the garbage. It wasn't helpful. Because the kitchen is small they really couldn't see what they were doing (the whole too many cooks is true).  So, after a few glasses of wine my stuff inadvertently went into the garbage. 
 I no longer have my Spanish flatware and I learned my lesson.  Now I tell people please don't bring anything into the kitchen there is nowhere to put it. If they try to help by bringing things into the kitchen I ask them to bring it back to the table until there is room. You have to bring only a few things in at a time, clean them off with a watchful eye to the garbage, wash them or put them in the dishwasher, and then bring in a little more.  Step-by-step.

Have plenty of wine and champagne glasses.  If you don't have a good set, you can always find them cheap.  But have a lot.  Nobody wants wine or champagne from a juice glass.  And, there's plenty of vintage shops around the City (and everywhere else) where you can buy lovely glassware.  They don't have to match.  Before I bought my glassware I thought about buying 12 different glasses for wine, water and champagne - so each person would have something unique.  Be creative.

It's also a good idea to have wine glass charms to go around the stem of the glasses.  I use them on my champagne glasses because I usually serve the champagne while people are having their hors d'œuvres and are not seated at the table yet.  With the charms they can keep track of their glass and you don't have to keep washing glasses and putting them out again.

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