Tips to Simplify Entertaining

It was Laurel’s birthday on Monday and Scott’s on Wednesday and our friend, Andrea, graciously offered to host a dinner party.  She and I had been talking about how we can get ourselves in a bit of a dither before we have people over.  I think maybe it’s the pressure we put on ourselves to try to be the perfect hostess and do it all!  Andrea talked about how we can simplify and what we can do to enjoy entertaining and not turn into total freaks before guests arrive.  We tried some of these tips out…

  1. If someone offers to bring something, let them!  Andrea make awesome roast chickens and then let us make appies, salads and veggies.  If you try to do this all yourself, you will be making sauces and dressings the days before.  Who wants to prep for two days?  You are just exhausted by the time your guests arrive.  I made a beet, arugula and mint salad and cumin roasted carrots with tahini dressing.
  2. Pick recipes that you can prepare in advance.  Andrea made a pitcher cocktail, strawberry basil margaritas, that is best if it sits in the fridge overnight.  I was able to make the dressings for both the salad and the carrots the day before.  And I roasted the carrots in the afternoon and just re-warmed them in the oven for about 10 minutes before serving.
  3. You don’t need to have 10 different dishes.  Keep it simple with a few super yummy ones.  Andrea debated whether she needed to make a potato dish, but I was bringing bread from Nelson the Seagull, so she decided to skip the second carb.  Good call!  All you really need is protein, one or two salads, a veg and one carb.
  4. Serve the food buffet style.  It’s much easier than plating and everyone can take exactly what they want and can go for seconds at their leisure.
  5. Keep decor simple.  Andrea picked up a few premade flower arrangements and I added some hydrangeas from my garden to give them a bit more of a deconstructed look.
  6. Let the hubbies get involved.  In our house, I traditionally do the cooking, but I love it when Jason barbecues or prepares the cocktails.   At the birthday party, Andrea’s hubby Doug carved the chickens while we all enjoyed appies…he was pretty stoked to try out his new electric knife…on the cake too!
  7. Focus on making the dishes that you love to make.  Andrea is an amazing cake maker, and she made a roasted strawberry coconut cake with a cream cheese butter cream.  It was out of this world and it looked just as pretty as it tasted!

We all had a great time…the food was yummy and the company was awesome!  And I hope that Andrea wasn’t too tired!  And I think Scott and Laurel had no idea that we had tried to keep things simple!  Mission accomplished!  I want to use some of these tips and entertain more this summer.  I think if I take some of the pressure off and let people help, I will do it more!  Let me know if you have any tips for simplifying entertaining!  I want to know!