It’s no secret that I love to entertain and have people come over for a meal or a party. There are very few things that make me happier than having people in my home. Having people over seems more personal, and cooking for someone is my love language. That’s not to say that it doesn’t take a certain amount of work or planning to make it happen. Through the years I have gotten better at it, and while I’ve been told that it seems effortless, I can assure you that it is not.
I think that being a good host means making people feel comfortable and welcome. I want people to know that I made an effort for them because I love them and value them, not to be showy. (Sometimes I get a hard time from people when I make things from scratch or go all out. I do it because I love it, not to be obnoxious.)
My mom owned a catering business and is an incredible hostess (not the mention the best cook I know). I learned from her through the years and a lot of things that she does I thought that everyone did, turns out that isn’t the case.
I’m going to share some of her (and my) top tips with you.
1. Have a plan. What are you going to make? What are people going to drink? Do you have enough plates and utensils? These are important questions to ask yourself in the early planning stages. I rarely ever serve something that I can’t make ahead of time. I don’t want to be running around the kitchen while my guests are there. I want to be enjoying them too, so I plan my menu based on what I can do ahead of time. Do I have enough soup bowls for 12? It helps to check and make sure before it comes time to serve and realize that you don’t. (Been there. Done it.)
2. Decide on your menu and write out what you are going to serve on a piece of paper. Tape it to your cabinet and use it as your guide. I break it down by things that I can do 2 days ahead, the day before, etc. You can do quite a bit ahead of time, you might be surprised.
3. You don’t have to make everything yourself. Buy some things to help yourself out. I don’t do much in the way of appetizers. My time and energy go to the main dish and dessert, so I buy things to snack on before the meal. I don’t want people to fill up either, so a cheese plate or some store bought dips are just enough. My favorites these days are Le Bon Dips. To make them look a little nicer, I transfer them to bowls and garnish them with ingredients found in the dips. Add some grapes, crackers, and cut up veggies to the platter.
4. Create your grocery list. Make sure that you have everything you need. (Check your pantry – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run out of a spice or flour when I think that I have enough.)
5. Set the table the night before. Or at the very least set everything out. This will save you time day of. Make your table look nice and inviting. Keep flower arrangements low so that people can see each other over them. I usually do 2-3 small ones over one big one.
6. Take it a step further and set out everything you need to serve coffee and dessert. Dessert plates and forks, coffee cups, sugar, creamer, serving utensils.
7. Keep the bar or drinks out of the kitchen. Set up an area away from the high traffic areas where people can get themselves a drink and serve themselves. This helps people stay out of the kitchen while you are trying to get dinner on the table. They can help themselves and make drinks for other guests.
8. Create atmosphere. Create a playlist, light some candles, have some fresh flowers around. Make sure the bathroom is clean and stocked with t.p., hand towels, and light a candle in there too.
9. Ask for help. I resisted this for years. When people would offer to bring something I would tell them not to worry about it or to bring wine or beer. Now when someone offers, I say yes. Selfishly, I get to try so many new things this way. I have adopted quite a few recipes and it is one less thing for me to worry about. If I am making a themed dinner or am concerned if things will not go together, I ask for an appetizer or dessert.
10. Have fun! This is the most important thing, enjoy yourself and your guests. When all is said and done, people will not remember what you served, or what kind of wine your poured, but they will remember how nice the evening was or how much fun they had.
This post is brought to you by Le Bon Dips by Alouette Cheese. All opinions are 100% my own. Le Bon Dip is a first-to-market snack that’s a craveable blend of delicious soft cheese, chunky vegetables, and a touch of yogurt that lets you add variety into your ho-hum snacking routine. Le Bon Dip comes in four flavorful varieties – Basil, Zucchini, & Parmesan – Fire Roasted Vegetables – Roasted Red Pepper & Chickpea – Zesty Garden Salsa