For a host, having friends or family over for dinner need not be stressful, yet more often than not it is. How many times have you planned out the menu, only to realize at the last minute that you forgot that essential ingredient at the store or make the batter for your shortcakes you planned on serving for dessert? Taking on more than you can handle is more often than not what sets up many hosts for failure. To give you a hand the next time you’re having over guests, we’ve simplified the party-planning process into five key elements for every host to remember.
1. Make a Plan
When you’re doing a million things at once and simultaneously planning a get-together, you’re more than apt to forget something. Clodagh McKenna, a cookbook author and trained chef based in Ireland, always begins making her lists a week before she hosts a gathering so she has plenty of time to get things in order. Divide the list by the stops you need to make — like the market, liquor store, and cheese shop — and what tasks need to be done at home (like checking to make sure your bathroom has toilet paper). Also be sure to note at what time the dishes you’re preparing need to be put in the oven. It will help to set your mind at ease and ensure that nothing is overlooked.
2. Ask for Help
Don’t let you and your family’s busy schedule prevent you from having a low-key get-together. In fact, taking time away from the rush of day-to-day tasks to catch up with friends and share a meal or even afternoon tea together can be like hitting the reset button, allowing you to approach your to-do list the next day with new energy. If you’re hosting a dinner party but your busy schedule prevents you from making the sides to go along with your steak, ask your guests to bring a starch and vegetable to go along with your appetizers, salad, and dessert. If you need ideas, these are some of our favorites.