For those of us whose lineage includes Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, and the like, the opportunity to entertain a group of friends or family is likely a welcomed request; while for others, the thought of hosting a dinner party is akin to getting a root canal–in other words, it’s not so pretty.
Whether you’re a hostess with the mostess or a hot mess, here are some tips for a successful party.
Create a relaxing atmosphere by building a playlist of your favorite tunes prior to guests arriving. Make sure the music is loud enough to be appreciated but no so loud that your guests have to strain their ears during a conversation. Looking for a way to kick up the ambiance? Candles are an inexpensive way to add some oomph!
Stocking a full bar can add up pretty quickly. Instead, choose to serve wine and a signature cocktail. Step up your game by serving a seasonal cocktail like a winter lemonade or a gingersnap. Wind down the evening with a warm Bailey’s cinnamon and spice.
Don’t stress about having dinner ready the second your first guest arrives. Give people time to mingle, get comfortable and enjoy a drink as they nibble on appetizers. Plus, most people will fill up on appetizers and drinks and not even notice the fact you forgot to season your dish–bonus!
Have a plate of veggies with dip, and cheese, fruit and crackers ready and waiting to greet your guests. Later, you can serve more substantial crowd-pleasers like shrimp skewers or chicken bacon wraps.
Hosting a dinner party is not the time to whip up a recipe you just found on pinterest. Keep your stress level at bay by preparing something within your comfort zone. Entrees like this and this are easy to prepare and sure to satisfy your guests. Don’t forget about being mindful of allergies before you prepare your menu, too!
A clean white linen accompanied by white china is an impressive setting. Mix in a pop of color with your centerpiece, but don’t forget about making sure the height of your focal points don’t interfere with conversations. Encourage your guests to get to know each other by adding place cards to complete your table. Consider placing items guests might readily need during the meal on a smaller table–think pitchers of water, ice, butter, additional rolls, utensils, etc.
When asked by invitees about what to bring, only burden your guests with something negligible–you don’t want them feeling pressure to whip up a main course; items like ice, wine or bread are great suggestions. Prepare enough of the main course ahead of time–there’s nothing worse than trying to entertain guests while you’re hovering over a hot stove.
Dismiss the nagging feeling to clean up right after the meal ends. Your main focus as a host should be to entertain your guests, not get a jump start on cleaning your kitchen. Preparing your dessert course beforehand helps create a seamless transition between dinner and the last course.