When entertaining is more of a lifestyle than a chore, use these tips so your parties look more like how-tos than definitely-don’ts.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Costly to Have Fun
My husband and I entertain frequently, often as much as two or three times per month. From the backyard pig roast and mai tai party for 100 to the intimate dinner party for eight to neighborhood drinks and hors d’oeuvres, we’ve done it all. When we first began entertaining we always hosted friends for dinner and every party explored new, difficult-to-make mains and sides, elaborate desserts and fine wines.
Thankfully, we got over that.
What changed our minds? The realization that our friends just don’t care if we can make a perfect rack of lamb. They just want to hang out and have fun – and that’s when we knew we had to change our champagne entertainment style to match our beer-level budget.
Thank God for the Internet
Because entertaining can feel like a daunting task to the uninitiated, avoid aggravation by making yourself a shopping list and firing up your Internet browser. Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving for 20 (and if you’re going to host 20 people, Thanksgiving is perfect because there’s so much food anyway) or a beer blast for 60, everything you need is right there and easily priced.Party CityandOriental Tradingare excellent low-priced resources for everything from themed decorations to favors to plastic cups, plates and more.
Bed Bath and Beyondalso has an excellent website, and you can save on shipping by picking items up directly at the store (without having to find a clerk to climb up a two-story high shelf). Need a fondue maker? No problem. How about a three gallon jug? Easy. Votive candles, new hand towels, wine glass charms? It’s all right there – and don’t forget your coupons!
Consider Eliminating Dinner
You don’t have to invite friends for an amazing meal unless you love to cook. Instead, try inviting friends for drinks and dessert. If you can’t stand the idea of not offering food, try a wine and cheese tasting party.WSJ Onlineis a great way to introduce new wines to your friends, and they price cases reasonably. As far as selecting cheese, a dear friend told me to “just pick the stinkiest ones.” This actually happened.
Pot (Good) Luck
Don’t hesitate to ask your friends to chip in a dish and a bottle of wine. Make it easy and assign it out – ask one friend to bring an appetizer and a bottle of wine, ask another to bring a dessert and a bottle of wine, etc. Not only will everyone get to try new dishes, you’ll save your wallet and your time, too.
Last Minute House Prep
Your friends may not mind bringing an appetizer and a bottle of Pinot but they will mind if your house is dirty (even if they say they don’t). No need to call in the maids – although calling the rodent control company is a must if you have issues – just take the time to inspect the bathrooms, cleaning as necessary, and run the vacuum.
Remember that your friends want to spend time with you – it isn’t about having the perfect dishes or the most delicious soufflé on the block (although that certainly helps!). Relax, remember why you entertain and the rest will take care of itself.