Many hosts know dinner party disasters all too well. Between cooking, tending the bar, and time spent fussing with the floral display and table, sometimes the wine-reduction sauce simmering away on the stovetop skips your mind — until the doorbell rings and you notice for the first time that the house no longer smells of red wine and roasting meat, but of burning food. The calm smile that you planned to greet your guests with has instantly disappeared, and in its place is the image of a panicked host.
Mistakes happen to both amateur and experienced hosts, but a party crasher or spilled dish need not ruin the meal completely. We’ve explored the fouls that dinner party guests are most apt to make — but what to do when the host is at fault? Consider, for example, the spouse who invites friends over for dinner — but fails to inform their partner… Until they find out just hours before the meal is to be served, from the guests calling to say they’re running late. If you’re too strapped for time, you could call for delivery — or would that be the sign of a lazy host? Instead, think smart and shop your pantry, or opt for something really quick and easy — and don’t forget the wine. What if your guests are late? Do you begin without them, or extend the cocktail hour a bit more, with a round or two of trivia to keep guests occupied?
No matter the disaster, the best remedy to a difficult situation when entertaining is to be prepared and anticipate problems before they arise. Have your pantry stocked with shelf-stable foods that can work for any course of the night. And have a sense of humor and confidence. The host who faces any of the nine following challenges with confidence, and can then share it with guests and laugh about it, is sure to give their guests a night they can both laugh about and enjoy, without letting a few disastrous moments get in the way of their evening.