Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and we are entering the season of a variety of holiday parties, it’s a good time to share some helpful organizing tips for home-entertaining. Whether it’s a cocktail party or a sit- down plated dinner, planning is still essential.
With readiness in mind, you should plan the menu ahead of time, review your inventory, make a detailed grocery list, and be sure to check that the liquor cabinet is updated and stocked with the basic alcoholic favorites (hey, it’s party time and you gotta be ready!). This way if you don’t have what you need, you will have the time to run a quick errand.
Setting the table the night or day before can eliminate a lot of stress. Select the tablecloths, napkins, platters, and serving utensils that you will need to set the dinner table. Have a seating plan in mind and an accurate count of chairs to accommodate your guests.
One of the best ways to stay ahead of the chaos is to organize the platters for each course by placing labeled post-it notes for every side dish and match an appropriate serving piece. This makes it easier for any eager helper to lend a hand when food needs to be transferred from the oven, because they can follow your plan. It’s a seamless system.
This is not such a big deal, really. But what I find to be the most chaotic time of hosting a dinner is the last 15 minutes before the guests arrive. It is likely to become a small frenzy. Does this sound like you? You are babysitting the food in the oven while searching the cabinets for the perfect serving tray for the varied assortment of appetizers that need to be micro-manged (so they stay hot when served), preparing the ice bucket (but not too early), slicing limes and lemons for the bar, getting just the right music on, lighting some candles, maybe even getting dressed, and what happens next? …
The doorbell is ringing, the guests seem to be flooding in all at the same time, and you are secretly questioning yourself whether you are ready. And if that is not hectic enough, they arrive with armfuls of delectable treats, pies, bottles of wine, flowers, and hostess gifts to open. While this is thoughtful and very much appreciated , that just beings you back to the kitchen searching for another platter, cake plate, or nut bowl, or vase. Everyone is insisting on helping and before long, you have more people in the kitchen than you do in your living room.
All in all, when dinner is finally served, nothing else really matters but the gathering of family and close friends. The only thing to hope for is that after all that preparation, the food tastes good. If not, whatever didn’t work out so well, take notes and just modify for the next time you entertain.
Hosting a party can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. The “Hostess with the Most-ess” is fundamentally a prepared one! Being the perfect hostess is not as important as being a happy one. You want to enjoy your own party, don’t you agree?