So you have decided that you want to have some family or friends over for dinner or a party? Whether it is during the holidays or not, entertaining can be quite stressful to the best of us. I remember back when I was younger, the thought of having people over would have me a nervous wreck for days leading to the event. Would I have enough food, would people like the food, what dish should I serve the fish in, what where how??? I drove myself crazy until I realized that as long as I planned well and stayed calm, my guests would have a lovely time and my fretting was for nothing. My mom instilled a love for cooking in me and being a good hostess is one of her great traits. So I will share with you some tips I have learned over time on how to keep entertaining elegant and easy for you!
A week or two before make sure you have the invites sent out and confirmed. This helps so you know how much food or drinks you need and at this point you should know what you’re cooking and what drinks you will serve your guests…red or white wine, or a signature cocktail. You can also make a menu and thank goodness because there are many examples available on the internet.
ATMOSPHERE- Lighting and Music
You want to make sure the mood is just right for your guests. Personally I love candles because they create a cozy mood and effect. I’d stay away from scented candles because I don’t like them interfering with my food. If you want to stay on the safe side, you can use flame-less tea lights. Good background music is absolutely important; you can either have a pre-selected playlist or a station from the many options available from Pandora, Iheartradio, Rdio, Songza and many others.
SETTING THE TABLE AND SEATING
Many people are not used to formal dinners and think that they are snooty and snobbish…but the reality is, you can make your dinner just the way you want. There are no rules as long as you and your guests have a good time. You can have your guests sit around a set table, or you can have buffet style. Let your personality show through your party and your guests will enjoy it more when you’re not stressed. I like clean and simple table settings with no clutter so that the food shines.
Keep it simple and appealing is my motto. You don’t want to intimidate your guests and you want to whet their appetite so that they look forward to the main meal. The key is to also serve the appetizers and some drinks right when the guests arrive. I like to keep this time to about 45 mins to an hour. This should allow the guests to chat, get acquainted and also give you time to mingle while checking that the finishing touches to the food and table are done.
DINNER IS SERVED
Once you call your guests to the table, please start serving immediately. Food has to be at the right temperature meaning, hot food needs to be hot, and cold food needs to be cold. If you’re serving your food with white wine, make sure that it is rightfully chilled and if it is red wine, it’s always good to have it open prior to serving so you allow the wine to breathe. The rest is easy because the food sets the tone for the dinner conversation and a good time.