Friday, February 17, 2012

Stress Free Hostessing

I love having people over to my house for dinner.  I love to cook for friends and family.  For me, one of the ways I express love to others is to cook meals for them.  As I have gotten older, my view of being a hostess has changed.  Gone are the days when I aspired to perfection.  Now my goals for entertaining or being a hostess is to ensure that everyone (including me) has a good time.  

This week's Life Well Lived Getting Organized question on BlogHer is on that exact topic: What is your best tip for hosting a gathering, get-together or party that is enjoyable and stress-free for both the host and guests?

Prior to having children, I would strive to have everything perfect.  The right table setting.  The right entree.  Perfect little table gifts and on and on.  All of that was nice and special but it would leave me exhausted and sometimes stuck in the kitchen preparing an elaborate meal while everyone else was visiting without me.  So one of my biggest tips for stressing-free hostessing is to keep everything simple.  I like to prepare meals that can be put together ahead of time and either be ready to go into the oven or already baking in the oven when guests arrive.  This does not mean that your meal has to be boring or that you are stuck with serving casseroles.  But it does mean that I try to pick meals that don't require a lot of last minute finishes. 

I also like to put out a variety of appetizers for people to snack on while they are talking.  Again, I try to either keep these simple or take friends up on their offers to bring something.  If someone offers to bring something, I always ask for an appetizer.  For appetizers, I try to have 1-2 hot dips, a vegetable try with dip, and chips & salsa.  I don't want my guests to fill up before the meal but it is nice to have a variety to choose from.  Also, if you have children at the party they will be hungry long before the meal is served and these types of appetizers give them something to munch on.

I'll admit I'm not a big dessert person.  I do not have a sweet tooth and really feel that if a dessert isn't chocolate, it's not really worth eating.  Also, the dessert really depends on your entree.  You don't want to serve something heavy for dessert if you've served a heavy meal.  With that in mind, I usually have cookies or brownies and ice cream for dessert if children will be at the meal.  If it is an all adult gathering, I like to make a cheesecake with berries or possibly a flourless chocolate cake.  Again, I keep dessert simple and have it prepared ahead of time.  So all you have to do is bring it to the table. 

Do you have any tips on stress free hostessing?  Leave a comment here and then go to BlogHer to join in the discussion.

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Hannah said...

I am so bad at entertaining. So, so very bad. My BFF is great at it. It just comes so natural to her. I freeze and stink at it. :)

Gardenia said...

I love to entertain too. and am so appreciative when people offer to bring something. even if the menu is all set and I don't need anything, it's the thought that counts. I too used to be a perfectionist, and have gotten away from that (but only in the last couple years), although I do so love to use the good china and Waterford. no many occasions for that now-a-days, but I've heard it said that you should use your good dishes every day!