Friday, December 7, 2012

My Best Entertaining Tips!

Tis the season to host a party!  And no one likes hosting parties more than me!!  My mom started calling me the hostess with the mostess when I was like five.  So, here we go...10 of my best tips (many of which have been learned from other hostesses in my life!).  We'll start with these 10 and maybe do a few more as the season progresses...
1. Don't make all of your own food! 
The Barefoot Contessa says all the time, that when hosting a party, you should make no more than 3 dishes yourself.  Having a party is not about showing off how many recipes you can make.  It's about being with your friends and family.  It's about having fun!  You need to take some help from the grocery store and buy dips, nuts, dessert, rolls, side dishes...whatever, just let them help you!  Don't over-whelm yourself by trying to make everything yourself.  No one has fun with an anxious and busy host.
2. Use festive paper goods but...

...try and use real silverware.  Sometimes, I use all real dishes but sometimes, I don't.  Sometimes, I buy super fun and festive paper goods and use them instead.  However, I really try and use real flatware and not plastic.  The exception might be outdoor parties or really, really casual buffet parties.  However, if you can...use the real stuff.  Nothing is worse then trying to cut into your entree with a plastic knife.
3. Candles!  Candles!  Candles!
If you come to a party at my house, expect no less then 20 lit candles.  I have them lit all over the place...even in rooms less frequented.  It just says party when there are dim lights and candles.  If scents bother you, use unscented...just use them.
4. Speaking of lights...
...dim yours!  I hate going to a party where the main over-head lights are blaring.  That seems so a doctor's office.  Dim those suckers, use lamps, and light your candles.  Trust me, it will change the whole mood of the evening.
5. Listen to Michael Buble
OK.  You don't have to listen to Buble (but you should!).  Just have some sort of nice, relaxing music playing.  Or...have festive, party music playing.  The music really sets the tempo of the party.
6.  Don't cry
Geez.  You don't know how many times I've been to a party where the hostess has cried because some dish didn't turn out right.  Calm down, take a deep breath and laugh about it.  Worse case order a pizza.  If you're stressed out, your guests will be too.  Just laugh it off and have fun.  I've been to some downer parties because the hostess was upset about her food. 
7. Keep it simple!

Casual food equals casual conversation.  I love to serve big casseroles, taco bars, chili and know...easy and relaxing food.  My friend Lori is the total inspiration for this.  Whenever I go to her house, she serves the best and yummiest food without fussing over it too much (soups and sandwiches, pasta salads, dips and chips...yummy food without the fuss).  If you're fussing over Beef Wellington or Filet Mignon with Lobster Sauce...your guests will feel like it's formal and thus, they'll act formal.  I want them eating Sloppy Joes and feeling at ease at my house.  Just because the mama cooks, doesn't mean the mama needs to show off.  A good old Tostada Bar with a festive dessert and some fun music will create the perfect party. 

8. It's the experience, not the food

The sign of a good party?  When I leave and don't really recall what I ate but remember the people, the easy conversation, and the warm feeling the home gave me.  If I leave remembering every course I ate but didn't really engage with anyone, it wasn't a successful party.  Cooking and entertaining are not the same thing.  Focus on entertaining your guests and keep the food simple (order out if you need to!).  Entertaining your guests and making sure they have the best time starts with you being relaxed...and if you're slaving over your stove, you aren't relaxed.

9. Use white plates

When you can, use white plates and serving platters.  Food just always looks better when served on white dishes.  Mix and match them!  They don't have to match.  I like an eclectic table with an assortment of dishes.  It makes everything seem more comfy and like home.

10. Serve white drinks

I love this tip!  When you're hosting a party...serve white beverages.  Whether it's a cocktail or mocktail...make it white.  White beverages don't leave nasty stains like a punch or red cocktails.  White drinks are a hostess life-saver.  Get creative...there are a lot of white drinks you can serve.  I've served white-chocolate hot chocolate, punches and mixed drinks with white bases and then white, fruity mixers (like lemonades, limeades, sherbets, etc.).  Just do yourself a favor and make it white.

I hope you find a tip or two here that will make your next holiday party easier and more fun!

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Marie Matter said...

fabulous tips!! i agree that keeping things simple is a MUST. i like anything that can be totally prepared ahead and then just popped into the oven whenever i need it. the worst, worst thing is to be stuck in the kitchen all night and never talk to your guests! comfort food is also a must. people are always excited to eat it.

great post!!

Aubs said...

great tips!! its SO so SO true ~ simple equals fabulous!

Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} said...

Good tips!!!!

Olivia said...

These are great tips! I love hosting and will definitely use these suggestions!

Maureen W. (Maryland) said...

Silly question: Do you worry about your silverware being accidentally thrown out when mixed with paper goods?

Mix and Match Mama said...

Hey Maureen! Not a silly question at all! If my silverware was really nice, I would. However, mine is really basic stuff, so I don't worry about it at all (I don't think it's ever happened but who knows??).

Slightly Askew Designs said...

You could always make dinner AND ask your friends to bring pizza - and then when they show up have breastmilk stains on your shirt... or maybe that's just how I like to entertain my besties :)

Sandi said...

These are great tips! I totally agree that a relaxed hostess is the best.

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