Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Entertaining

Windsor Castle, U.K. About an hour outside London and the Royal Family's favorite residence.

So you think you've got a lot of work getting set up for your holiday entertaining? You've never had it so easy!

Ever wonder how they do it for those formal, official state dinners in the United Kingdom? Well, I'll give you a hint: it takes a staff of hundreds weeks of preparation, especially if it is hosted by Royalty.

Polishing the dining table in the Great Hall to a mirror-like shine.

After our visit to Windsor Castle last year, where you can watch video of these glittering events on plasma screens as you travel through the rooms where they actually took place, we were intrigued by just how much preparation it takes to serve a multi course feast for hundreds of guests to the most rigid standards of protocol and etiquette (not that we haven't hosted dozens of such affairs like that ourselves - yawn).

Selecting the many wines to be served with dinner.

Preparing the meal in assembly line fashion.

Lucky for us PBS TV has a DVD of just such an event which took place at Windsor Castle, of all places! "Windsor Castle: A Royal Year" gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible amount of preparation these dinners take. From the printing of the official invitations to the precise measurement of the place settings and decoration of the guest suites, we see just exactly how this staff must choreograph and carry off the event of a lifetime attended by heads of state, the world's top business leaders, celebrated entertainers and hosted by Royalty.

It's really a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the incredible amount of detail one must pay attention to and how the other half, or should I say the other one percent, lives. Proving once again that for a successful party the food is only one ingredient.

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