Spring has arrived and with it a new sense of life emerges. Everyone is defrosting after the winter, slowly getting rid of their scarfs and the woolly socks. People turn back towards company just like a sunflower turns its head towards the light. A lot of catching up needs to be done and hosting for friends and family is always a perfect excuse.
Hosting doesn’t always have to be blood, sweat, tears and a mini breakdown all in one night. Keep in mind that hosting is all about friends and smiles.
Here are eight simple steps to keep in mind when deciding to host a dinner party:
Cook book author Ted Allen says: “Planning a dinner party in a way that you’re actually capable of getting it done without panicking is important. It’s bad hospitality for the host to be freaked out.” Peel, chop and dice beforehand this will leave you with extra time to entertain. Set out dishes or bowls, wash up and make space where space is needed. If you are trying a new recipe it might be best to give it a practice run a few days before.
Think ahead as to what you can plan your party around, be it a small get together or a sea of people. Come up with themes, a dress up, something fun and colour co-ordinated or clever ideas like dedicating your food to a movie or a book like “Pride and Prejudice” or “Harry Potter”. Cook offs can be fun, mystery ingredients – something to keep friends on their toes. An old time favourite is going International. Cook Italian with breadsticks and pasta or French cuisine with maybe a little French wine on the side.
Whether you’re planning for the queen of England, family or friends, make sure the atmosphere is welcoming and inviting. Have snacks ready for your guests to nibble on and always make sure everyone has something to drink.
Create ambiance that suits your personality: Quirky, classy, homey or warm. Your guests should feel like they have arrived at your house (keeping up with the Jones’ are a thing of the past)
Even though sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, people always admire a hint of effort. Make your company feel special by something individually addressed to them. It can be as simple as a little placement card with their names written on it, or a little “thank you” gift. You might even incorporate their trademarks into a pre-planned party game. Don’t make it pricey make it personal.
Speaking of pre-planned party games – To avoid those long silent pauses, pick fun dinner party games, like the old time classic Charades or “Who am I?” or the animal version of “What am I?. Take careful consideration when playing background music as this forms part of the entertainment as well – at times it can be the silent mood killer.
Use the opportunity to evoke a look of dazzle or amazement on your guests’ faces. Play to your strengths – are you a master chef in the kitchen? Then cook something delicious. Maybe you have a knack for themes or table ideas, games even. As long as you make sure the evening is different. Why should drinking glasses be actual glasses? Instead of using the expensive china bring out the old rustic plates. Little changes create smiles as people take their seats.
Something for Everyone.
Avoid those embarrassing moments of preparing something special only to find out that your guests are allergic to it. Do your homework thoroughly there’s no harm in asking. You might even discover that your guests have a favourite dish and that it just so happens to be your specialty. Think about whom you will be catering for; especially when it comes to drinks: wine or cocktails something fizzy or non-alcoholic. Will there be children? It all comes down to making the evening pleasurable for all.
Me. You. Us.
Last but not least hosting should not be an endless road of misery. When you really think long and hard about it, what can be more comforting than looking at a home filled with laughter, love and enjoyment? The idea of you being the lonely cat lady is now the furthest thing from anyone’s mind thanks to good food, wine, décor, the attention to detail and the sparkling hostess.
You might think you’ve done all of this for them but truth be told this was all about spoiling yourself – be it to enjoy your friends company or pushing yourself to impress the boss. It will leave you with an accomplished feeling of “I did all this and it was spectacularly grand”. I’ll leave you with the wise words of Mr Somerset Maugham, the highest paid author during the 1930s: “At dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.” Until then Happy Hosting!
Images found on: qvb.com.au ; maidenjane.blogspot.com; cosamariposa.blogstomp.com; waitingonmartha.com;