There are few things in life I enjoy more than entertaining. Before my work schedule changed things, I would have friends over for Friday night dinners or Saturday lunch every few months. I learned a lot about preparing for a crowd! My tips might not be as tantalizing as those from Ina, but I stand by them and can’t imagine a party where I don’t use them.
Here are some of my favorites:
Tip: Organization and checklists mean a worry-free party day. For simplicity, I use one sheet of paper (front and back) or an index card, depending on the size of the group.
- I include everyone who will attend (and simply put +1, if it’s a friend I haven’t met yet) – this helps to keep count of how much food, number of table-settings and drinks.
- In another section I put my menu, including what others are bringing (if it’s potluck). This helps me figure out if I’m making too much food, repeating what someone else is bringing (don’t want to overshadow them), and allows me some space if I want to swap out one recipe for another.
- Using my menu, I create a checklist (I even make the check boxes) with all the groceries I need
- Finally, I use a different color pen to note when I will make everything, so I can relax and enjoy the company when they arrive (although, I admit I’m still learning how to do this!)
Tip: Try and ask friends if anyone has any foods they can’t eat. The worst feeling is having friends who don’t eat at your party because they are allergic to your food.
- I have learned how to be a better cook by making food for friends with different allergies. I, myself, have some as well, and think it helps make everyone more comfortable at a party, if there’s something for everyone to eat. I’m also learning to be more subtle in my assurance to friends, which foods they can and cannot eat, because it can sometimes be information the person isn’t comfortable sharing. I’ve gone as far to color code dishes with place-cards labeled with names of dishes, that look like decoration, except for the person who needs to know ingredients. I use these cards from Paper Source for mock place-cards.
Tip: Bowls can be used to serve most anything. Platters are pretty, but sometimes make more of mess on the buffet table.
What are some of your favorite tips for entertaining?