This article, entitled Be A Fabulous Hostess…without spending a lot of money or time comes from partner site 719woman.com.
Whether you're having guests over for an intimate dinner for 4 or a cocktail party for 50, it doesn't have to be stressful, expensive or intimidating. Anyone can do it with a few simple guidelines.
You’ve probably been to someone’s house where it didn’t matter what was served or how small or large a house they live in, you just really enjoyed yourself. That’s because you had a great hostess (or host). On the other hand you may have been to dinner where the food was melt in your mouth perfect, the decor was like out of a movie yet as you were driving home you were like, ”Whew, thank goodness that’s over!”
A fabulous hostess creates an atmosphere that welcomes you. You should be relaxed, and you don’t need to have a meltdown if a dish isn’t perfect! And you don’t have to be a skilled chef, live in a mansion or have tons of money and time.
Whether you’re a first-time hostess or you’ve been doing it for years (and perhaps stressing), hopefully the following tips can help you throw a get-together with more ease and you’ll actually have a good time (as will everyone else) at your own event.
Granted, there is a difference between having a couple over versus 25 couples but it’s pretty much the same steps…just on a different scale. Here’s my simple outline for basic hosting:
Plan your menu, budget, and establish “why” you’re having company over. Is it a formal dinner or a barbecue in the backyard? Is the boss coming over, or the neighbors? (Not that you can’t invite the boss over for chili and the neighbors over for steak!) I plan my menu around the season and occasion, what my budget is at the time and what’s on sale at the grocery store. Don’t get so complicated (unless you’re a pro at this) that before you even invite anyone, you’re stressed.
If you’re not the greatest cook, plan your menu around what you’re comfortable cooking.
I personally love to cook and try out new recipes so a lot of times I look at what’s on sale that week at the grocery store, plan a menu based on the sale items. (I like to use guests as guinea-pigs for new recipes–if it doesn’t work, laugh and order pizza!)
Let your guests know what to expect. When you invite someone over, whether it’s by mail, phone, email or in person, let that person know what they’re being invited to. Is it a casual come-on-over and we’ll throw something on the grill kind of party? Or, a we’re having four couples over for a formal, sit-down dinner?
Let them know about what time you’re planning on actually serving the meal and what it is your serving. For example, “We’d love if you could join us for dinner Friday. It’s supposed to snow so I’d thought we’d have this great new beef stew recipe I found. Come over around 6:00 and we’ll have some drinks and appetizers and then eat around 7:00. And be sure to dress comfy.”
That tells your guest immediately that:
a) it’s a casual evening,
b) that you’ll have a little something they can snack on before dinner (ever been invited for dinner at 6:00 and you go hungry and then the meal isn’t served for another hour or so and you’re starving?) and
c) that you’re serving beef (that gives your guest the opportunity also to let you know if they’re allergic to a food, vegan or have any other food related issues).
d) how to dress - the more your guests know beforehand, the more comfortable they are from the start.
Make a list of everything you need to do and then do as much as possible before your guests arrive. Even if we’re “only” having the kids over I still make a list.
On this list I usually include:
I check everything off as it’s completed and right before everyone is seated I double-check the list and make sure I have all the food out. (Have you ever made something, it’s in the fridge, and you realize you forgot to pull it out AFTER dinner’s over??)
Before we had cats (who are naughty and think they can jump on anything and everything-which they do) I would set the table the night before (if this is possible for you, that’s a huge time-saver).
Clean and chop everything the night before or the morning of. Assemble anything you can ahead of time. Again, if you’ve planned your menu around foods that can be prepared as much in advance as possible, the more you can get done before guests arrive.
Choose an outfit you feel and look good in, something that isn’t too structured so you’ll be comfortable as you move around. Don’t stress on cleaning the house. Vacuum or sweep the areas you’ll be in, close doors to rooms you don’t want anyone seeing, clean the bathroom guests will be using and don’t have any piles people have to walk around.
Dimming the lights and lighting candles can really add atmosphere (and hide dust!). Have drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) ready as guests arrive.
Everything is prepped! All you have to do is pop something in the oven, toss and dress the salad or warm the bread and now it’s time to…
You’re not stressed because you planned ahead. You look and feel great. Fabulous smells are wafting from the oven or the grill’s ready to be started. The table looks inviting. You have music playing to set the mood… and the doorbell rings! You don’t gasp and think, “oh no!”, but instead, you head to the door knowing the evening is going to be spent having fun, all the while enjoying your company and the fact that your guests will leave that evening, wanting to come back.