That’s the headline to the email that appeared in my inbox on Valentine’s Day.

Well – that got my attention! A contest involving a dinner party? Tell me more!

So I did click HERE. The prize is to be awarded to the host and seven of their chosen guests for the best dinner party given during the month of February 2018. Come and Dine is in aid of PBS, and is sponsored by Viking Cruises (who will provide the flights).

These are the terms by which the event will be judged:

“The competition entries will be judged by a panel of three judges based on the originality of their event concept, the level of skill and accomplishment in hospitality as judged by reference to the standard required for formal dinners at Highclere Castle and the level of enjoyment obvious from the participants of the event in the photographs and video clip submitted. The decision of the panel of judges (acting reasonably) will be final.”

All right, then. To your stations, everyone. We need to plan the event.  A theme, the menu and the table setting seem to be the priorities.  

I turned to “At Home at Highclere” for some ideas. 

The book describes several house parties held at Highclere, including a weekend with Henry James (a somewhat reluctant guest, it seems, if one reads between the lines of the very diplomatic description of his tepid enthusiasm). I was never a big fan of Portrait of a Lady, so perhaps we’ll think of something else…

This one looks much more promising. A weekend with The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). The hostess, Almina Herbert, wife of George Herbert the 5th Count of Carnarvon, was the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild. Seems like there is quite a bit of scope here. The Rothschilds are a very interesting family. I’ve visited Waddesdon Manor, which was the home of Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, Albert’s brother, and it’s spectacular. He was an avid collector of porcelain, including some very rare Sèvres pieces. Hmmmm….

Using recipes from the book is also encouraged, and they do have some luscious looking dishes. I’ll spend some more time on that once I settle on the theme and the table setting.

On to the table setting. Please help me decide on which one to use! It needs to be formal, so “ballgown” quality.

The options are below, with hyperlinks to the blogs where they were featured.

White & Gold

 Cobalt #1 (which also has some pink)

Cobalt #2 (includes the cobalt Venetian goblets)

French Blue

Green (with hand-painted Moser glasses)

And Pink (with pink Moser & Venetian glass)

Please name your choice in the comments section. Won’t this be fun?

We don’t have a lot of time, my goodness! Submissions need to be in by February 28 at one minute to midnight. I’ll keep you posted on how the theme and menu are shaping up, and look forward to hearing your choices for table setting. Thanks for your help in advance, everyone.

Our friends, Kathi and Ron Garner, are coming in from Boston to help us celebrate, which is very much appreciated. They attended the Robert Burns dinner we held in the Cape in January, and are avid entertainers themselves. The Gartlands are in Hawaii (regrettably for us, not them), so will not be able to attend. We have several family and near-family members who are joining us and we are all looking forward to dinner next Saturday. It’s a bit of an imposition to ask people to hail to and show up in formal garb with a week’s notice, and we are deeply grateful for the assistance.

I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.