The family as a group or individual members often receives and entertains visitors or guests in the home, on occasions such as birthdays, child naming ceremonies, parties, etc. These occasions require different kinds of preparations and refreshments or food. You should be able to entertain your guests when you have a birthday party for instance. It is therefore necessary to learn how to entertain guests in the home.
Meaning of entertainment
Entertainment in a home means receiving people in the home and giving them food, drinks, etc. It also means making people feel happy. It involves organizing formal or informal parties. A female who entertains is a hostess, while a male is a host. The person who is entertained is the guest.
Importance of entertainment
- Entertain is a way of building good relationships among people.
- It gives you practice in being a hostess or host.
- It is a way of showing and sharing love.
- It makes people (hostess, host and gusts) happy.
- It helps people learn how to treat others, for instance, respect of people’s feelings.
- It can help people develop interests and acquire skills needed in hospitality industry, such as hotels and restaurants.
- It gives the host/ hostess opportunity to prepare different types of dishes (meals) and snacks.
- It helps people learn how to serve others.
- It provides for relaxation which is necessary for good health.
Ways of preparing for entertainment
There are many ways of preparing for entertainment. These are the things which the host/ hostess has to do, namely
- Preparation and sending out invitation letters or cards.
- Preparation of the house/hall/venue.
- Collection and arrangement of equipment and materials.
- Preparation of refreshment / food. The amount of preparation needed depends on the type of party and number of people invited.
Preparation and sending out of invitation letters or cards
Preparation and sending out of invitation letters or cards are very important. This is because the guests are very important in any party. Without guests there will be no entertainment. The invitation letters, cards or telephone calls must be prepared and sent early enough.
Invitations can be issued in person, on the telephone or by written cards. Formal parties are often by cards, while informal ones may be verbal or by telephone. A complete invitation letter regardless of its form should include:
- The name of the host/hostess.
- The type of event.
- The date.
- Time and place of the party.
- The name of the guest.
Preparation of the house/ hall /venue
The venue or place for the party can be the family house or a hall outside the home.
Guidelines for preparation of the venue
- Ensure that the space is enough for the number of guests.
- Provide enough seats and tables for the guests.
- Clean the room or hall thoroughly. Remove all cobwebs, dust and dirt on the walls, windows, doors, floor and other surfaces.
- Clean the chairs thoroughly. No guests will like his/her clothes to be soiled by sitting on dirty chairs.
- Arrange the chair and tables properly. Make sure that there are enough walking/movement spaces for the guest and for service. Provides spaces between tables.
- Decorate the table with good table-covers.
- Hang some decorative pieces on the walls. This should be done properly.
- The colours used in the decoration should be in harmony.
- Decorate with properly arranged flowers. Large flower arrangements should not be used in small rooms.
- The room or hall should be properly ventilated, that is, airy.
- There should be good light in the room or hall.
Collection and arrangement of equipment and materials
The equipment and materials which are often used in parties include musical equipment such as stereo and accessories, plates, cutlery, cups, serviettes, straws for drinks, gifts/souvenir, drinks, food items, etc. All these must be carefully collected and arranged before the party.
Guidelines for collection and arrangement of equipment and materials
- Determine the number of guests expected to attend the party.
- Decide on the types of food and drinks to serve.
- Draw up a shopping list for food, drinks, gifts/souvenir, decoration materials, etc. Consider the money at hand. Budget within the limit of your money.
- Plan for the provision of plates, cutlery, cups, etc. Where possible disposables can be used.
- Plan for careful serving of drinks, food and take-away gifts.
- Plan for music equipment and other things.
- Plan for clearing up and washing of plates, cutlery, etc.
- Share responsibilities among those who are going to help with the party.
- Determine the positions for placement of equipment, food, and other items in the room or hall.
- Start all preparations, cooking, arrangement of hall, etc, well ahead of time.
- The host/hostess must be ready to receive the guests before they arrive.
Refreshment/food for entertainment
The type of refreshment/ food and method of serving will depend on:
- The type of part, for instance tea party, cocktail, formal or informal, buffet parties.
- The type of food being served.
- The duration of the party, that is, the length of time for the party.
- The space available in the room or hall.
- The number of people eating.
- The number of people available for serving and clearing up.
Common styles of serving food
1) Tray service: Here food and drinks are served in individual trays.
2) Family-style service: Dinner plates are arranged at each person’s place. The foods are in serving dishes on the table and are passed around from person to person to help themselves.
3) Plate service: The food is placed in each person’s plate in the kitchen or from one corner of the hall. The food could be in food warmers. The filled plates are brought to the table or handed over to guest by hand.
4) Buffet service: Plates, napkins, serviette, food, and drinks are arranged on the buffet table and guests help themselves to the food. This is an easy way of entertaining a large number of guests.
Some Meals, and Snacks for Entertainment
- Some meals that can be used or served for entertainment are jollof rice, moi-moi, pounded fufu/ garri amala with assorted soups, fried chicken, fried beef, breadfruit, vegetable salad, fruit salad, pepper soup, etc.
- Snacks include: plantain/yam/potatoes chips, assorted fried meat, yam balls, akara balls, cakes, moi-moi etc.
General responsibilities / characteristics of a host/ hostess
Some of these responsibilities are also part of the preparations already discussed.
A good host or hostess should be able to:
1) Decide on the type of the party to give and discuss with the family.
2) Plan the party thoughtfully and prepare in advance.
3) Decide on:
- The date of the party.
- The number of people to invite.
- The kinds of food to serve.
- The activities for the party.
4) Send invitation letters to guests well in advance. This is to enable them make plans to attend your party.
5) Plan the menu and activities for the party.
6) Make a comprehensive shopping list.
7) Shop wisely.
8) Clean and decorate your home for the party.
9) Get dressed and ready to receive your guests before they arrive.
10) Get everything ready before time.
11) Welcome guests as they arrive and take them to their seats.
12) Introduce guests to each other and to your parents. An introduction helps strangers to feel at ease.
13) Involve all guests in the activities (e.g. dancing, games, etc.). Help the shy guests to get involved in activities without embarrassing them.
14) Serve food smartly and ensure that each guest has enough.
15) Be friendly, warm and enthusiastic.
16) Lead and encourage conversation but do not monopolize it. A host/hostess should be able to communicate easily with people.
17) At the end of the party see guests off to the door and thank them for attending.
Responsibilities of a Guest
A good guest is as necessary to the success of a party as a skillful host/hostess. Whenever you accept an invitation to a party, you have the following responsibilities:
- Reply to the invitation to a party. Accept as soon as possible. Or let the host know at once if you cannot attend.
- Dress properly for the party.
- Do not be late for the party.
- Cooperate with the host/hostess.
- Treat other guests in a friendly way.
- Take part in all the activities planned by the host/hostess.
- Do not misbehave during the party.
- Respect the host/hostess and other guests.
- Do not engage in long private conversations and ignore other guests.
- When the party is over, thank the host and go home.
Table laying is the process of setting a table. It means the arrangement of tableware or table appointment (plates, glasses and cutlery) for each person who will be eating a meal.
Importance of table laying
Table laying is important because
- It makes the dining table more attractive.
- It makes the meal more convenient to eat.
- It helps to make the meal more enjoyable.
- It helps in training younger children on table manners.
Guidelines and processes of table laying
Table can be set or laid for both formal and informal meals.
- Determine the number of persons to be served and the menu before laying the table. Each person must have a cover. A cover refers to the place set for a person on the table. The cover contains the table mat, glass cup, side plate, and table napkin for each person. A cover normally is about 60cm long.
- Make the table design simple and natural.
- Choose and use colour and materials to achieve an attractive table design.
- The table setting should complement the meal. The materials used for table setting should suit the type of meal and the method of serving it.
- Aim at the comfort and enjoyment of the people who are going to eat the food. For instance, high flower arrangement which could make conversation across the table awkward should be avoided. When deciding where each cover is to be placed, the size and shape of the table as well as the convenience of serving must be considered.
- The dining room, table linen, and all other materials required for the meal must be properly cleaned.
- The pieces of cutlery should be placed fairly close together.
Materials for Table Setting
The following materials are necessary for table setting.
- Table cloth.
- Side plate.
- Meat fork.
- Soup spoon.
- Tumbler or glass cup.
- Table napkin or serviette.
- Place mats.
- Bread knife.
- Meat knife.
- Dessert spoon and fork.
- Wine glass.
Procedure for Informal Table Setting
Family meals are often informal. They can be made up of two or three courses. A three-course meal could be made up of:
- Soup as a first course;
- Jollof rice with beef as the second course, and
- Dessert, e.g. fruit salad, as the third course.
To set the table:
- Collect every item you need for the table setting on a tray or trolley where available.
- Lay the tablecloth on the table. Place the centre fold of the cloth to the centre of the table. Draw down the edge of each side and ensure that it hangs evenly round the table.
- A good flower arrangement at the centre of the table adds colour to it.
- Place the placemats for each cover. Allow enough space for each person and for serving the meal.
- To place the cutlery, start from outside and work in. Cutlery for the first course is on the outside of the setting and so on.
Fig. 17.8 shows an informal setting.
(From left to right) are:
- Side plate.
- The table fork with the pines facing upwards.
- Table knife with cutting blade towards the place-mat.
- The soup spoon.
- The dessert spoon
- Dessert fork placed at right angles to the other cutlery.