Question: Mistress has told me to plan a formal dinner for her and 11 friends. i have a week to put a plan together. Help!
Answer: This is part of the job of being a service submissive. It is a wonderful opportunity to have Mistress be proud of you, and show you off in front of her friends.
Plan the date and time and place. Discuss invitations, how formal is the occasion?
If you don’t own the table settings, call your local party rental store. Don’t forget a centerpiece for the table. Flowers are always wonderful but make sure people can see over them.
Plan your menu.
Plan how you will serve the meal. Do you need a professional server or will a friend do? What attire shall the server(s) be in?
After dinner entertainment? It really depends on who is invited and what is appropriate and fun.
Here is a list of some resources i find quite valuable:
On Etiquette and Protocol:
Emily Posts Etiquette (16th edition). This has been modified to include modern etiquette situations such as cell phones and email. If possible, read the 1st edition as well, it can add value, particularly if in service to someone with older values. However, if you can just get one, get the newest.
Emily Posts Entertaining. If you will be managing parties or social get-togethers, this is a must. It is also quite useful for those doing table service or helping set up table.
The Rituals of Dinner, by Margaret Visser. This is a treatise on the reasons behind everything that has to do with eating and/or drinking. The author explores dinner protocols in cultures across the world, sharing a wealth of knowledge on the origins of why we eat the way we do, and the protocols associated with these occasions.
Butlers and Household Managers, 21st Century Professionals, by Steven M. Ferry. This is a modern-day how-to book for service professionals who wish to butle, or manage households. Practical, and passionate about service par excellence, this book is absolutely filled with useful information, writings and practical checklists.
A Butlers Life, Scenes from the Other Side of the Silver Salver, by Christopher Allen. These are the memoirs from a butler in today’s age; quite useful reading for those interested in any style of formal service. It is interspersed with many useful tips and tricks.
The Art of the Table, by Suzanne von Drachenfels. This book contains the essentials on table service, caring for dinnerware and tons of historical information on china, formal dining, coffee, tea and wine. A truly comprehensive guide.
Household Hints and Tips, by Cassandra Kent. This is a wonderful reference to help you solve all of the little questions and problems that arise in taking care of someones house.
Spring Cleaning, by Jeff Campbell. How to tackle big cleaning projects as opposed to everyday cleaning. Assigned to clean out the backroom that you cant even walk into? This book can help if you feel overwhelmed by a large project.
Speed Cleaning, by Jeff Campbell. When assigned to clean, we need to be able to do it thoroughly and quickly. There are much more useful ways you could be spending your time in service. This book can help you set up a baseline heavy cleaning and manage maintaining it once that is done.
Clean House, Clean Planet, by Karen Logan. Great if you or a person in the household you are serving is sensitive to chemicals. Its also better for the environment, and saves money for your owner!
Dads Own Cookbook, by Bob Sloan. This book is for beginners in the kitchen. It includes shopping tips, the right equipment and basic recipes and cooking techniques.
The Way to Cook, by Julia Childs. This book is an integral tool for one to rise from a culinary neophyte who knows some basic recipes to someone who can prepare gourmet meals. i suggest reading it cover to cover and doing research on the techniques, equipment and ingredients you are unfamiliar with.
366 Ways to Cook Tofu and other meat alternatives by Robin Robertson. i’ve made most of the dishes in this book. They are excellent. i recommend eating healthy and having it taste superb. This book will do that for you.
The Essential Vegetarian by Diane Shaw. You can’t just steam veggies and put it on a plate. This book will show you alternatives that are tasty.
Living on Live Food by Alissa Cohen. i highly recommend this cookbook. People ask how i look the way i do at 51. i eat meals prepared using this book as a guide.
On Tea, Coffee, Wine and Cocktails:
The Afternoon Tea Book, by Michael Smith. This is a book on the history and rituals of British tea. The author shows us how to do a full formal British tea with lots of recipes for our own experimentation. It is out of print, but available on Amazon. A bit specialized, but if you need to know it, you better know it!
The Book of Coffee and Tea, by Joel, David and Karl Schapira. This is the definitive book on coffee, from a multi-generation family of coffee-house owners. As much as you ever need to know on the subject, and they cover tea fairly in-depth as well.
Mr. Boston Official Bartenders and Party Guide, by Boston. Need I say more? Don’t be caught tending bar without it!
Great Wine Made Simple, by Andrea Immer. This is straight from the master sommeliers mouth. A wonderfully easy to understand and very practical guide to learning wine varietals, pairing and regions.
Above all, don’t stress. Make your list and check each part off. Remember that the success of an evening is the atmosphere, good eats and good entertainment/conversation. Enjoy the opportunity.