How to keep them from creating a stressful affair
Hosting guests for dinner can be more unpleasant than it’s worth sometimes. But it’s supposed to be fun. And that’s what it can be, simply follow these tips to keep you from descending into the madness of the overwhelmed party-giver. Sure, you need to clean your home, set the table, serve guest-friendly food… but you KNOW this, it’s just par for the course. And if I may mix analogies, you are capable of knocking it out of the park. You simply need to embrace the fun of it all, roll with any punches that may emerge, and allow yourself to be relaxed – that will also put your guests at ease.
Preparation is the key. You may not have hosted many parties previously, but it doesn’t matter. If you are determined to make it a success, it will be. You have etiquette. You have style. And, you have recipes! You are going to create an inviting and satisfying atmosphere that will make you the subject of sincere appreciation. And you will pull it off easily. First, make sure the dishwasher is empty before the party starts. You want plenty of room for the forthcoming dishes that you can load as the evening progresses. Likewise, empty your trash bins early as well.
Keep the tasks you deem unpleasant out of your mind until the party. You want to keep yourself as stress free as possible. Prep everything you are cooking as early as possible. In some cases that can even mean the night before (it’s a good idea to get the dessert out of the way at this time). Wash all utensils – knives, cutting boards, and pots – as soon as you are finished with them. This way you’ll have less to deal with AFTER the party.
Setting the table is a pretty standard procedure, but there are things you can do to really make it ‘pop’. First, a great centerpiece is essential. It doesn’t have to be super fancy or costly, but one that tastefully ties the tables décor together. With the place settings you can incorporate decorative traces of modern colors such as gold, white black – with bright colors blended in. Perhaps fresh flowers and some greenery in a nice arrangement is just the touch of elegance you need.
Sure, tableware can get expensive, but with a little savvy you can score some serious bargains. Even at the various dollar stores, there is plenty of good stuff to be found. Thrift shops are another great place to check out. Sometimes you’ll find an entire matching set of china or tableware, usually priced individually. It’s all about timing. Plus, going to thrift shops are fun! You hardly feel like it’s a chore. Even the box stores have great deals. White plates, for instance, are inexpensive but of generally very good quality – clean and modern.
On the other hand, if possible you may want to spend a few bucks on really nice glasses. You can still make a lucky thrift store score, maybe even something vintage, but you don’t want to go too cheap in this department. Put it this way, you wouldn’t serve an excellent wine in a plastic wine glass. This is an opportunity to portray some class. Consider the shape of the glass when shopping, and be certain to pick styles for serving both red and white wine. Luckily, you can get excellent glasses by the set easily, again at the big box stores.
Next, think about linens. Maybe splurge a bit on a set of ten placemats with matching napkins. With so many styles and designs available it would be hard to fail in this endeavor. With the fabric itself, it’s best to go with something simple. A good basic linen will be reusable, reliable and never out of style. Pick your napkins (solid – white or black) with the right placemats and you have the formula for a truly impressive table.
As guests begin to arrive, introduce the appetizers, you can’t go wrong with veggie and cheese plates. Serve a light wine, too.
Certainly the most important element of the evening is the main meal. Your preparation has assured that you will have everything ready on time. You want to determine what you will be serving by the number of people you’re having over. If it is more than six, it is not unreasonable (or a bad idea for that matter) to ask each to bring a side dish, salad or dessert. They know you’ll have your hands full feeding the mob with the main course. On the other hand if you’re feeding LESS than six, you’ll be just fine making a large tasty pasta dish with a big salad. Add warm Italian bread and butter, and everything will be delicious. Complement it all by opening a quality Chardonnay and your guests will already be looking forward to your next dinner party.
You’re all having a great time – where do you go from here? Where indeed? This is when the fun begins. Sometimes you have guests that typically leave shortly after dinner. Before they can, get them involved in the spirit and fun of games with everyone participating and the party will continue to rage on into the night. Sure you can play a formal card game, a poker variant, or you can mix it up with something fun and racy, like the popular “Cards Against Humanity”. You’ll all be laughing and having a great time. And that’s what it’s all about – creating special times with your loved ones and friends that you will always cherish and remember.