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Top tips for easy entertaining

March 24, 2014

We had friends round for brunch on Sunday and it was very lovely.  We were out celebrating another friend’s birthday on Saturday night so I knew I had to prepare ahead, as there would just be time to roll out of bed and have a shower to shake the hangover on Sunday morning!  We love entertaining (brunch, dinner, karaoke, cocktails … you name it, we love to host it) so over time I have developed these tried and tested tips for easy entertaining.  I have a friend who is so on top of things he types up a detailed timeline for the day of the do; I’m not quite that organised but here are my top tips for stress free hosting!

Wild west party

1.  Plan food that you can prepare in advance.  Inspired by my mum, an expert in prepare-ahead meals, I always try to choose a menu which can be prepped earlier in the day (or the night before) and either popped in the oven or quickly assembled on the plates when our guests get here.  For brunch we had this spinach and cheese strata (with added chorizo) which I smugly put together before going out on Saturday night!  Much less stressful than the tapas feast I made last month which left me in a total last minute flap: lesson learned.

murder mystery party

2.  Set your table as far ahead as you like, and pick out your serving dishes too.  If we’re hosting on a weeknight, I might set the table in the morning before work, or even the night before.  It always takes longer than you think to find the matching cutlery (we have two sets that always get mixed up), and the sight of the table all set and ready has a strangely calming effect on pre-party nerves.  The same goes for doing any dishes the preparations have created so you start the festivities with a clear, clean kitchen.

3.  Clean your bathroom and put out a fresh hand towel.  Even if it’s just hanging on top of your own damp towels from your hangover-clearing shower, this is a must.

sparkly new year party

4.  Pick out lighting and a playlist to set the mood: whether it’s bright and bouncy for a big party, or nice and soothing for an early brunch, both can really help to get you and your guests in the right mood.

5. Get yourself very nearly ready before you finish off the food.  I usually do my hair and makeup before the final food preparations so all I have to do at the last minute is change my clothes. We live on the fourth floor so at a push I can get changed in the time it takes visitors to climb the stairs!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2014 11:03 am

    Good tips! I owe some friends a dinner – they cooked an amazing Moroccan inspired meal and I am yet to return the favour – mostly because they work shifts and Friday night is the easiest for a get-together. The thought of having people over for dinner two hours after I get home from work fills me with dread to be honest! Really good point about the cook ahead meals, I’ll have a think about those and stop being antisocial!

    • March 25, 2014 1:20 pm

      So glad you found this helpful, I was a bit nervous about posting something kind of different! And if you want some make ahead recipe ideas, just ask. I like a cold starter (bruschetta or pate or something) and a big dish of something for a main course. Pies are always popular!

  2. March 25, 2014 2:09 pm

    I really like this. I am very much a fan of these tips, hence once doing a cold starter, a stew type main and a dessert that was a disaster but as the table was set early and the drinks were flowing well I think I almost got away with it!

    • April 2, 2014 7:30 pm

      Desserts are the best course to go wrong as by that stage everyone’s already decided that they’ve had a wonderful time!

  3. March 26, 2014 11:22 am

    Fantastic – I loved this post! Thanks for sharing your tips. I also find that getting as much ready as possible well in advance like the table, helps to make a much less stressful and thus much more fun occasion when you’re hosting. Although I’ve been known to be sorting my hair and make up out when everyone’s been coming through the door.

    I still absolutely love your wallpaper! x

    • April 2, 2014 7:29 pm

      Me too!

      Thinking about it, I think the main aim of all my tips is to create the appearance of having gone to no trouble. Not in a smug, aren’t-I-brilliant kind of way, but in a way that makes yours guests feel welcome and comfortable rather than worrying that you’ve run yourself ragged all day – even if you have!

  4. April 3, 2014 3:22 pm

    A BIG yes to #1! It took me a long time to realize that attempting super complicated dishes the day of the party is not the most stress-free way to go

    • April 6, 2014 1:50 pm

      I can’t promise that I follow all of these tips all of the time (I have a tendency to be over ambitious!) but when I do they make it all so much easier!

  5. April 5, 2014 8:15 am

    Very useful. We rarely invite people round to eat, partly because we are both so disorganised! I could follow a plan like this one, though. Thank you.

    • April 6, 2014 1:50 pm

      You’r welcome! It’s totally do-able, you just need to plan ahead!


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