Inviting friends, family and business associates into your home for a celebration is welcoming them in a way no restaurant can match. The holidays are the perfect time to show people how much you care by showing them just that.
How to do this while still enjoying the process can be achieved in many ways:
Planning is everything! Will it be an intimate gathering with friends, or a large cocktail party where the champagne is flowing? Great hosts see new possibilities every time they entertain. What ideas have interested you in your travels or articles you have read? Create a themed evening based on something that inspires you – Moroccan food, French wine and cheese tasting, Spanish tapas night. Let your guests explore the world with you!
Take stock of your linens, silverware and decorations the week before. Get the shopping out of the way three days before and prep as much as you can the day before the event so all you have to focus on is the actual cooking. Make sure your yard and entry are well taken care of. Is your lighting welcoming inside and out? Candles and warm lighting create a beautiful ambience and set the tone for the evening right from the start.
Will you make the food or have it catered? It doesn’t always have to be backbreaking. Maybe you love to cook, but hate the clean up. Now is a good time to hire students from nearby colleges or put an ad in the paper.
Think about your last party and remember what worked and did not. Be very clear with anyone who helps you about details such as how to dress and what you expect.
When guests arrive make time for them. Make them feel they are in your home and not a restaurant. Offer a drink, and have some appetizers they can start on.
If you are cooking, don’t disappear! It is ok to put on some finishing touches, but if you must be gone from your guests for more than 15 minutes you have the wrong menu (that is to say unless this is a casual dinner and everyone is in the kitchen). You are not a restaurant chef, but a host entertaining friends.
- Do… have fabulous music- classical guitar, Cole Porter, Miles Davis… to name a few.
- Do… be a participating host rather than a reclusive cook or cleaner.
- Do… create an environment! Are you celebrating a great year with your team? Show them! Create a mood with music and candles and flowers. Let your home sparkle and you will too! Centerpieces are so important, even to a small dinner party… and essential for an affair! Look to your garden. Be organic. Show you guests your creative side. Simple and elegant.
Is your home big enough to entertain? Of course it is! Set up round tables in many rooms around your house, and even use a hallway set with a long communal table. It’s ok to rearrange. Set up a bar in your entry, causing a “pause,” and a gathering place before dinner begins.
Entertaining should be fun, and a relaxed hostess is the best kind.
Make sure to plan as much as you can in advance, but leave room for the unexpected – extra guests, wine spills, and burned dishes are something even the most seasoned host can experience. How you handle it is what decides if it ruins the evening or not. Take it in stride and pour yourself another glass of wine and everything will be just fine.