Advice for the Reluctant Host
October, 2011 · By Coryanne Ettiene
Entertaining at home should be second nature; however modern demands on our time coupled with the massive promotion of picture perfect menus send many of us reaching for a wine glass at the mere thought of opening our homes to our friends and family. For those reluctant entertainers among us, starting simple, small and stylish is the way to gain the confidence you need to increase your guest list and expand your entertaining horizons.
Entertaining for small groups provides a relaxed setting that promises jovial conversations, and lively banter that are often absent from more formal larger gatherings. The delight of entertaining for smaller groups is that cooking mistakes are often overlooked, dinner service is casual and the guests come looking to relax in the company of good friends. When taking the steps towards entertaining at home, follow these 5 steps for saying goodbye to being a reluctant entertainer.
Limit your guest list. Invite a small selection of your closets friends, those that you feel most comfortable around and who will laugh with you, not at you, if your dinner party takes a turn for the worse. Keeping you dinner party to a maximum of 6 people ensures that you have plenty of seating and can seamlessly cook without needing a second oven or kitchen helper on the night.
Consider your menu. We all strive to be the next top chef, but the reality is that when guests come for dinner, they want comfort food that they know and enjoy. Keep your menu simple, relaxed and fool proof. Avoid complicated dishes and stick with what you know how to cook and that will give you time to enjoy the company of your guests. If planning a 3 course meal is too much for you, ask a guest to bring a dessert or salad to compliment the meal.
Plan ahead. Planning is key to hosting a successful dinner party. Do as much as you can in advance to avoid being tethered to the oven or from making a last minute dash to the shops for butter – if you are relaxed, your guests will be too.
Be prepared for delays. Start your dinner off with a cocktail hour by greeting your guests with a cocktail and a few cleverly placed snack dishes (bar snacks or crackers & cheese). This will keep them occupied while you put the finishing touches on your meal and make you look like a prepared hostess.
Engage in conversation. Guests come for good food, drink and conversation. With a small gathering of friends the conversation is more likely to flow freely, however if you are concerned about table topics, have a few on had to ease your mind.