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Featured Pro: Kristan Cunningham Category: Home Décor Time: 3:10
KRISTAN CUNNINGHAM: The pros at GMC loaded the Acadia with available premium sound and DVD systems. But I can teach you how to entertain like a pro at your place. I’m Kristan Cunningham with your GMC Trade Secret.
I have a pop-in rule at my house. If you’re in the area, you should pop in. But additionally, I also entertain quite a bit, formally and casually, for lots of people, and sometimes for just a few. And the thing that keeps me sane, no matter what the setup or event is, is an arsenal of great entertaining stuff.
First, when I have pop-in guests, it’s important that I can offer drinks, maybe a little snack, but do it really beautifully, in a way that feels effortless and casual. And I do that with vintage bottles. I keep these bottles in my refrigerator at all times so they’re always chilled. This one was a lemonade bottle that I just peeled the label off of. Some of them I cork; some I don’t. But in the shelves on my refrigerator door, I’ve always got chilled water in bottles ready to serve. A few glasses thrown on a tray, ice bucket, and pretty tongs. I don’t polish any of my stuff. I like that it has a patina. That means that it’s always ready.
For the rest of entertaining, I like to just stick with one common plate. So when I’m at the store and I see that there’s an acadia-wood platter on sale – and this, by the way, is pretty inexpensive for wood; I picked up this at one time, that bowl at another time. I just pick it up when it’s on sale. If it’s white, I also pick it up, again, on sale.
I do stoneware for dishes, but most of my platters are just white in every shape that you can imagine. Any of the tiered stuff that I do, I try to stick with white. But I also mix in some beige, mix in some gray. And that way, again, if things are on sale, I just pick them up.
It’s important to, in addition to all the big platters, have lots of small things, ramekins, any kind of little dishes. I like little guys like this. Also think about, if you’re casually entertaining, you’re going to have condiments. There’s nothing grosser than having a ketchup bottle on the table or a mustard bottle. So things like this are perfect for that, also for olives and nuts.
The other thing that I think gets really kind of messy and people don’t think through all the time is the coffee setup. I keep a cutting board in my kitchen. This is my actual coffee serving station in the morning. Think about this. Sugar cubes cost the same amount as granulated sugar, but look how fancy they look. You never see it. And people are always really excited when there’s cubes and a little pair of tongs.
Also think about height. When you put together things like a buffet-style setup or, like I do a lot, a dessert table against one wall, the things in the front are really accessible, but as you get toward the back, it’s a little bit harder. I like to use cake stands and even these scales. Even if it’s just to hold a little bowl of spoons or utensils or even other condiments, it means that things are a little more within reach and everything gets displayed a little more, textured visually.
And that’s it. The idea is when you’re out and about and you find things, pull the stuff together all throughout the year that add up to your entertaining look. That way you’re not stressing at the last minute and spending a fortune right before a party.
I’m Kristan Cunningham, and that’s your GMC Trade Secret about how to entertain beautifully.