Monday, June 10, 2013

summer entertaining: tips & tricks

For the first Summer Entertaining post I shared some essentials. Today I wanted to discuss some tips and tricks for avoiding stress the day of your event. When you're hosting there is always plenty to do. Planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, preparing, and so on. You're busy leading up to your get-together and even more so the day before and day of, so why not cut a few corners and save yourself some time, energy, and even money in some cases.

1. Make a list ahead of time regarding what you will ideally be serving. It doesn't have to be long or complicated. You are responsible for the main dish, at least one side, dessert, a couple of beverage options, and condiments depending on what type of event you're hosting. When you invite people they will inevitably ask if they can bring anything and they are being sincere, so suggest other items from your list - potato salad, chips, additional beverages, mac and cheese - you get the idea. This will save you time and money.

2. If you can prepare anything the night before DO IT! Some sides and desserts will be fine if prepared in advance and it gives you more time the day of to focus on other tasks. This same rules applies to cleaning and any decorating you may be planning.

via Dashing Dish
3. Do not serve brand new recipes for any event. Not only is the process for new recipes longer because you aren't comfortable with it, but you should never serve food to a group of people without knowing how it will turn out. At times recipes need perfecting and if you desperately want to try something new make it a week or two out as a "test run." Not every recipe will taste good or look as pretty as it appears to on Pinterest.(In fact, 90% of dishes on Pinterest aren't good at all, as I've learned from experience.)

4. If you have a dishwasher clear it out the night before and load it back up as you prepare food the next day. This will keep dishes from piling up in the sink and you can run it as soon as guests leave. If you don't have a dishwasher, make sure your sink is cleared the night before and try to do dishes as you go.

5. While we're on the subject of dishes - use paper plates, especially if you're hosting a cookout and/or have a lot of guests. A nice dinner party may require proper place settings and dinnerware, but if that's not your style don't create the extra work for yourself. You can always spend a few extra bucks and buy decorative paper plates if appearances matter. (Just stay away from styrofoam.) Plastic cups are great if you're having a lot of people over too. Use a Sharpie to write names on them so everyone can keep up with their own or, you can by suction cup ID markers from Target, Williams & Sonoma, etc.

6. Empty any trashcans that will be in use before guests arrive. I highly recommend designating an outdoor trashcan for food, paper plates, plastic cups, etc. (Or recyclable containers if you use them.) It will be easier to clean up later that night, or the next morning if you choose to wait, and it will keep the smell out of your house.

7. If you're grilling out have all of your supplies ready and waiting before you start. No one should ever be asking for a spray bottle of water when flames are shooting three feet high out of their grill. Since we're talking about it, just be safe in general. I feel like any party ending in a call to the fire department is not a good party.

8. If you are serving lemonade, tea, cocktails, or sangria a beverage dispenser may be a good investment. You can make the beverage/s before hand and keep the dispenser in the fridge until needed. I've seen people mix cocktails in mason jars, re-seal the lids, and toss them in a cooler so guests can grab them just like sodas and beer, so if that fits with your theme or style it may be a good option for you too.

There have been plenty of times I've broken my own "rules" and not committed to cooking or baking the night before, same goes for cleaning. While those two tasks are my two biggest stress relievers they are also the two easiest things for me to let slide. Of course, it's not the end of the world, but I really hate being stuck in the kitchen finishing up any major desserts or foods once people have started arriving. Be better than me!

I can't stress this enough: don't brush people off when they offer to bring something to your cookout/party/event! When we attend get-togethers we always ask if we can bring anything and it's because we genuinely want to help in any way we can. I made all of the food for a Halloween party we attended last fall because our friends were hosting in their new house and had a lot going on at the time and that wasn't a big deal, so one dish, a bottle of wine, or bag of ice really shouldn't be a problem, especially to anyone you're welcoming into your home.

Do you have any entertaining tips, tricks, or rules you live by?

1 comment:

  1. Love the idea of mixing cocktails into mason jars and putting them in a cooler for people to grab! My husband loves to make drinks and sometimes he ends up bartending all night long instead being able to sit and talk with our guests. What a great idea!


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