Entertaining is one of those things that some people are really excellent at doing, while for others, it’s a learned skill. Either way, it’s easy to be worried about making mistakes when it comes to preparing for guests. Here are ten tips to guide you away from entertaining blunders (and their simplicity will surprise you).
Stressing out too much
Whether you’re prepping for a high pressure neighbourhood BBQ, or Passover dinner has you running around feeling a little overstretched, be sure to take it easy. Stress doesn’t help your entertaining, and chances are your guests will most likely notice if you’re seeming a little on edge. Keep your cool!
Relying on guests for party essentials
It’s great if you can unload some of your party responsibilities onto guests, but be sure that essentials are at the party right from the beginning. No one wants to be waiting on a late party guest for ice, a main dish, or mixers for drinks. Think carefully about who you can rely on to get there on time with party supplies in hand—some friends are better than others at these types of tasks.
Not having enough food
While planning for a wine and cheese party might seem like an easy out, leaving your potentially intoxicated guests without options for eating (and sobering) up is a big no-no. Always ensure you’ve got something more substantial like salads, trays of meat and veggies, extra crackers, bread or other starchy foods on hand for those who might show up with a bigger appetite, even when you’re intending for an event to be light in the food department.
Not sure if you should buy an extra container of that dip that everyone seems to love? You probably should. Always buy extra to keep your guests fed and happy. Ordering an extra tray from a caterer or picking up an extra couple of bottles of wine is better than having none at the end of the night. You can always send extras home with guests or get inventive with leftovers the day after, and we’ll bet you’ll always find a place for that extra bottle of wine.
Forgetting about food allergies
Always be sure to check with your guests ahead of time to see if they have food allergies or any other dietary restrictions. While this might seem like a lot of work, it’s quite easy to swap out menu items for one that meets everyone’s needs, and the effort will go a long way. Your guests will appreciate your kindness and enjoy themselves more.
Serving dinner late
Start cooking early and have a plan for how you’ll get things to the table on time. Nothing is more irritating than waiting for food to arrive, and a lagging party can really kill a mood. Can you pre-make and reheat certain foods like baked pasta or quiche to make oven to table a bit smoother? Do other dishes need to be prepared fresh or require time to set? Plan ahead, but keep things low stress.
Forgetting to clean up
It’s not a requirement that you clean things from top to bottom before your guests arrive, but clutter and mess that they’ll run into are for sure something you should take care of before they get there. If you’re looking for one area to give some attention to, focus on the bathroom. Your guests won’t notice dusty baseboards, but they will notice dirty details when they make a trip to the powder room.
While you may love them, your guests may not; some scents really bother people, especially those who may have sensitivities. Their scent can really ruin the aroma of whatever food you’re serving, so skip scented candles and opt for natural cleaning products if you need something fresh smelling before your guests arrive (they tend to be more subtle).
Trying to do everything
You can only do so much (and remember that stress shows), so only try and do what is reasonable and accessible for you. While you might want to impress your guests with a new recipe, you’re probably better off with an old favourite to make things easier on yourself. And remember, it’s totally okay to ask for guests to bring something with them (they will probably ask themselves)—let them help you out, but know what you can do without and what you need to do yourself.
Forgetting to have fun
That was the reason you were doing all that planning, wasn’t it? Leave the dishes, get over the mounting mess, and get down to relaxing and enjoying your time with your guests. It’s easy to make this mistake if you’re feeling under pressure, so gently remind yourself that a good host has a good time.
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