Tuesday Tips | Keeping the Stress out of Entertaining

For some, hosting any sort of event at their home requires weeks of planning and a lot of heartburn!  But it doesn't have to be like this!  Sometimes the stress of hosting a party is due to simply not knowing how to prepare while other times the stress comes from feeling as though there's too much to worry about.  So today, we're going to try to streamline and simplify the process for you by listing things you can do as you prepare for your next event that will not only help you determine exactly WHAT needs to be done, but the best time and way to do it.

For starters, you don't want to spend your entire party in the kitchen cooking--so PREpare the food in advance....or, at least as much of it as you can.  Think about this as you're selecting your menu as well--what food items can easily be prepared in advance?  Try not to pick dishes that must be served immediately.   That kind of dish will immediately create a down for your dinner party.  Guests want to see the host and you should be able to enjoy your company--so try to stay out of the kitchen!

Every hostess wants her party to be the best--with most delicious food, beautiful decor, and interesting conversation.  However, these can be lofty goals, especially since you can't be sure what other dinner parties your guests have attended.  But, you can do things to make sure you put your own unique spin on things and this starts with getting creative with decor.  You don't have to spend a ton of money on decor in order for it to be eye-catching...just sort of, step things up a little.  You'll already be serving food, so make that the focal point of the table.  Pull out your pretty platters (pick up a few that are interesting) and use the food to create a table scape.  Simple clear glass or plain white vases make great vessels for flowers or greenery.  Check your yard or a park for something that could be used as filler before you run to the florist.  And finally, make the table cloth something fun that guests will talk about later--kraft paper that they can write on, or newspaper that gives the table an interesting twist.  And remember, you can always borrow decorative items from a friend without having to spend a lot of money on your own!

Do a quick run through the house to make sure there aren't small pieces of furniture that could get in the way.  Make sure things you don't want left out are neatly tucked away.  Is there hand soap, guest napkins, and extra toilet paper in the bathroom.  Will ladies know where to store their purses and coats?  Where should everyone park?  Thinking about these things in advance will help prevent any day-of stress.

Provide a fun drink.  Since most guests like to mingle a little at dinner parties before and after the meal, it's nice for them to have something to sip on.  An easy cocktail or even coffee in the winter.  A small appetizer is nice too--but it doesn't have to be over the top.  Food and drink always keep the party going and conversation flowing.

Decide on the ambiance and implement it!  Do you want a relaxing, jazzy night with low lighting and chill music, or loud games and laughter?  Once you decide, make sure your space can accommodate the feel you're trying to provide.

If you use this list as a guide, you'll definitely have a successful dinner party!