People invite their friends over for wine and a charcuterie board or for a full on meal. No matter how you entertain, there are several tips for making theevening fun for your friends and stress free for the hostess.
1. Give arriving guests a clear destination to a drink table. Create a space
close to the kitchen so you can chat to them, but not so close that they
are in your kitchen creating a traffic jam. Have ice, stir sticks, and
napkins at the bar so guests won’t need to ask you for anything. And
make sure you have surface area to actually mix the drinks. And have
small water bottles available.
2. Have everything chopped and prepped. Lay out your recipes and the
pots you will use. Sit out your seasonings and garnishes. Place your
serving bowls and spoons in a space. The plan is to move quickly when
you begin dinner without looking like a chicken with your head cut off!
3. Create a space at one end of your kitchen or island where guests can
linger without actually being in the cook or prep zone. They have a place
to rest a glass of wine and visit without leaning onto a dirty counter.
4. Guests will always arrive early. Let them arrange a veggie tray or place
the crudites onto the charcuterie board.
5. When the first guest arrives, have all appetizers ready to serve if they
are room temperature. As soon as half of your guests are in attendance,
pop the hot appetizer into the oven so the food will be warm.
6. Announce that dinner is ready and you wish all the guests to sit at the
table by stopping the fabulous music you have been playing. This will
keep you from raising your voice over the conversations happening all
7. Do you care where your friends sit? Have place cards if you would like a
new acquaintance to meet your friend who has similar passions.
8. As the hostess, explain the delectable recipes you have created! Did you
create a vegan option your guests need to know about? Is it a family
favorite? Is there a story to the food recipes? I love knowing what I am
9. Make sure the music is soft so the conversations can continue. Ask a
question as you pass the food which all of the guests can answer as a
group before small chatter begins with their seating partner. Take this
time to introduce any new friend to the party. Remember you were
cooking and may not have had the time to make sure the new person
met each and every person at the gathering.
10. Plan dessert in the living room so everyone can stretch.
11. If you have a side bar, have the dessert set up and ready to serve. You can determine if your friends are the coffee or after dinner drink people or not. If you will still be drinking alcohol, take a moment to check if the ice is fresh and the wine bottles need to be opened. Do you still have water available?
12. Make sure that the dessert has “minis” or slivers for guests who just want a bite. Just cut small pieces. And remember that a store bought treat is totally fine!!
13. As you observe your party, note that all of your guests are mingling. Is anyone left out of conversation? Ask if anyone would like more dessert or if you could freshen their gin and tonic. Make sure your fabulous music playlist is not too loud, but that it remains a lovely backdrop to a perfect dinner party evening.
14. Only after the last guest leaves do you begin to clear the table and gather the wine glasses. NEVER start the dishes while your guests are in your home.
15. DO clear the dishes, wipe the counters, put away food, and load the dishwasher before you go to bed. You want to be able to wake up the next morning with a clean space to begin your day, not groan at the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. The cleanup is a great time to chat about the party. Did everyone love the brussel sprouts recipe? Did you have too many appetizers? What did you learn from the conversation among your friends?
Pat yourself on the back. This was not a difficult task. Remember what you learned. Take notes and debrief the following day. It’s a great idea to keep a notebook of who attended, what you prepared,and any takeaways. This is wonderful to refer to when you get ready for the next gathering!!