5 Tips to Remember for Easy Entertaining

We’ve decoded the essential elements of a perfect get-together

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

3. Keep it Simple

There is a time and place for a formal dinner party with an elaborately set table complete with full place settings, fine china, and crystal wine goblets. If you’re looking to make hosting a get-together painless, however, it’s best to leave most of those dishes in the cabinet. As long as your house is clean (that really is most important — you don’t want to reveal any of your unkempt tendencies to your friends) all you need to set the scene is have placemats on the tables, a stack of plates and silverware at the ready, some cocktails and beverages chilling, and some of your favorite music playing softly.

 

4. Take Shortcuts if Necessary

There is no need to create a multi-course menu every time you entertain. After all, entertaining is more about being with friends or family rather than the food. So taking a short-cut and using store-bought ingredients when preparing the appetizer or dessert is fine. (In fact, it’s a secret that those who entertain often rely on.) Choose things that you can assemble in advance, like a plate of charcuterie or cheeses, or that don’t need to be heated, like crostini or chips and crudités with dips.

 

5. Be Prepared

Nothing is worse than arriving to a dinner party where the host isn’t ready, running frazzled around the kitchen, or still upstairs getting dressed. According to Liza Utter, former restaurateur and a celebrated party host, the success of a party begins with the host. If they are relaxed and happy, the guests will be, too. Whether it’s by enjoying a bath with a glass of bubbly earlier in the afternoon, blasting the music and singing along as you set the table, or giving yourself a party-time deadline that is a half-hour before the actually start of the party, do whatever you find is helpful to put yourself at ease.

What are your tips and tricks for easy entertaining? Share them below!

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