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Hosting made easy

Since time immemorial, apt homemakers have been known to make a mark in the sector of guest entertaining; an age old art that women from all generations have skilfully captured. Home is where your story begins, and a great hostess is the one who can narrate the tale of her family by serving her guests. Being a hostess is not just about cooking food, but getting your guests fully satisfied so that they have only blessings in their pouch for you while leaving. This idea of entertaining is also backed by religious notions, as most religions consider homecoming guests to be divine forms and call for treating them with utmost care and respect.

As ardent homemaker Samina Quasem puts it, "planning, preparing and executing are the three main steps to a great party. Get down to creating a blueprint of your party in your mind at least a few days before the event. Your first concern should be selecting an appropriate group of people with similar tastes, background and nature."

It is not only you who makes your guests comfortable but the company as well. While forming the group, make sure you keep in mind the number that is optimum for you. Too many guests can drain you of your valuable energy, leaving you with none to entertain them with. Too little, and you will end up with a dull and drab party.

Next comes the most integral part of your party, the menu. Given the selected group of people, try to plough into their likes and dislikes to get some idea about their taste in food. "But try to stick to one category as mixing too many food genres can set your party off towards a disaster," says Samina Quasem. Imagine combining red curry with beef bhuna and fetucini alfredo -- yes, I am speaking from personal experience.

Another important consideration should be the time of the party. Rich food usually goes well at night, while for the day you should keep the dishes a little tilted towards the lighter side. Apart from that, if you have one or two individuals -- like kids or older adults -- who have special requirements like sugar-free desserts or spice-less curries, you should always take pre-emptive measures to accommodate such provisions.

"You can even try out some exotic dishes like mixed cheese balls with crackers and dips or even try engaging your guests in making their own mixed fruit punch. Unusual desserts like sticky rice with mango can also add diversity," adds Samina Quasem.

With everything sorted and the sketch laid out in your mind, it's time to go shopping. Keep one whole day to gather all the items you need and stock them up. A good way to dealing with this step would be to make a list of items and draw a budget accordingly before setting out for the market.

Once you have all your ingredients at hand, start the most time consuming process of your entire cooking schedule -- marinating. Marinate all the meat and keep in the freezer overnight. This will not only make your job super easy, but also add flavour to your food as the spices will get enough time to penetrate through the meat. The desserts should also get a hand the night before, especially if they require cooling.

Now, the big day should commence with getting the house all sparkly clean, taking out all the special table ware and setting the table for an appropriate mood. All those porcelain crockery and silver plated cutlery should be out for a view. Next, get down to cooking, setting aside an ample amount of time to get yourself ready and for some last minute garnishes before the guests arrive.

As the common notion goes, a good hostess wears a wing and a halo. She welcomes her guests with graciousness to her home, making them feel wanted and comfortable, without seeming put out or overworked in any way. She projects the impression that the guests' wellbeing is of utmost importance to her and that nothing is too much trouble for her in ensuring that. "Polite or stimulating conversation is almost always a must," according to Samina Quasem. A good-hearted try at activities, such as dancing or playing cards, might be expected at times. For adult hangouts, a hearty chat while sitting in comfy sofas might be all that is required for entertainment, but for a kid's birthday bash, kinetic games and other interactions are absolute necessities.

All in all, do not look into it as an ordeal. A successful dinner party can leave you with memories to cherish and a heart full of satisfaction -- enough to compensate for the hitches.

By Afrida Mahbub
Photo Lifestyle Archive


Le Reve launches new fashion line

In a short span of two years, Le Reve, has already expanded to several outlets located in the key areas of the city. Gulshan, Banani, Dhanmondi, Mirpur, Banasree and Wari, now all play host to the fashion house. Starting off in 2009 with one outlet located at R K Tower, Le Reve has quickly shed the tag of the 'new kid on the block', garnering a fair portion of the market-share, given the short amount of time.

With the launch of their new line of men's formal wear, specially tailored for young executives, Le Reve is on its way to firmly putting a foothold on the fashion industry. Arrow collar, semi-arrowed collar, pointed collar and button-down collar, all feature in the new designs, fusing formal wear with youthful brightness, creating bold designs. With 100 percent cotton and blended cotton fabric, the T-shirts are not only very comfortable, but the blended-cotton element removes the need for constant ironing.

Monnujan Nargis, the Head of the Fashion Department of Le Reve, proudly leads the brand forward, marching towards territories yet unexplored.

“We have already gained positions in Banani and Gulshan, while looking at prospects in Chittagong and Sylhet. More importantly, we want to expand the brand at a global scale, thus we are seriously considering opening outlets in Singapore and Malaysia as well” she said. With the backing of Reve Systems (Revesoft), a Singapore based company, Le Reve, may well be on its way.

Monnujan, a pharmacy graduate from Jahangirnagar University, expressed her enthusiasm for fashion, which was further augmented from her travels abroad. Although, Le Reve's Western influence is largely evident in its designs, the fashion house also designs panjabis and sherwanis and is soon moving towards designing their own salwar kameez sets and saris.

With 15 designers working under her, Monnujan's, as well as Le Reve's own dreams, don't seem too far from materialising.

“We stress on providing the best quality. Le Reve, means The Dream, and our tag line 'Wear your dream', cannot be justified without the use of the highest quality of materials,” she said.

To ensure quality, most of the materials are imported from abroad and finally turned to finished goods in the Le Reve factory, where over 100 workers toil to provide the very best.

“Because we import most of the materials, our prices tend to be a little higher than usual, reflective of the high taxes imposed” Monnujan explains. With a price range of Tk 1200-Tk 2000, she expresses her regret at not being able to cater to clientele from almost all the income groups. However, highly priced exclusive designs are not provided.

The export-oriented company's new line of T-shirts is already available at all their retail outlets.

By Osama Rahman
Photo courtesy: Le Reve


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