I know for a fact that I’m not the only person who finds pulling together even the smallest of get-togethers a bit overwhelming. And fair enough I say – there’s a lot to think about! Do I have enough space? Is my place pretty enough? What food should I provide?
That said – in the past year I’ve made an effort to break the habit & have enjoyed the experience of hosting & cooking for my favourite people. It’s awesome & I completely recommend it!
So regardless of whether you live in a tiny apartment, an unattractive renter, or just aren’t confident of your skills in the kitchen, here are my tips for hosting a soiree with minimal stress and maximum enjoyment!
1. Invite Early & Follow Up
Some say that 90% of life is just showing up. Think of your dinner party in this vein – 90% of it is just asking the people you’d like to have over to.. well, come over! Forget the details, and just ask if they’d like to come over next Thursday evening for dinner & drinks. If you’re inviting multiple people I find that Facebook events work wonders. Don’t forget to followup and ask for an RSVP – if you’re planning on cooking for someone, you deserve to know whether or not they’re going to show up!
2. Choose Simple Decorations with Maximum Impact
I like to keep decorations simple. Fairy lights always look amazing, as does a cute table cloth with candles placed on tip. Whenever possible, opt for indirect lighting from corner and table lamps and your fairy lights/candles if you’re using them. These soften the mood, and make everyone (and everything) appear warmer, younger & more exciting.
If you’ve only got a small space to work with, try pushing all the furniture out, put out pillows and encourage everyone to sit on the floor – or opt for a nibbles & tapas style dinner that both encourages mingling and eradicates the need for a table.
Always set out nibbles to keep your guests ‘entertained’ while your messing around in the kitchen (trust me on this!). Cheese and crackers/French stick slices are always a winning combination and look great on a wooden chopping board. Add slices of salami, quince paste, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and dips like hummus and pesto if you really want to impress.
4. Pick a Menu that Shows Your Talents
When it come to food, you’ll want to put together a menu that demonstrates your talent – and by that I mean stick to something that’s trued & true rather than experimenting on your guests (unless that’s what you’re known for – Bevan I’m looking at you!).
If you can’t think of a particular favourite you’d like to serve, then check out Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute or 30 Minute Meals. They’re so easy, and amazing enough that they’ll wow any guest (just remember to give it a whirl on your own first).
5. Serve Buffet Style
Serving up ‘buffet style’ is SO easy and eliminates questions of presentation and serving sizes from the evening. It’s also a great option if you haven’t got the space to cater for a sit down dinner. All you need is a few large serving dishes (big white platters never fail to look impressive), and smaller bowls to hold the extras. Bonus – your guests will love the novelty.
6. Clean as You Go
I’ve always been a ‘clean as you go’ kind of a cook – there’s nothing worse than ending the night on a big pile of dishes (!). Taking the same approach at dinner parties makes cleaning up at the end a breeze. The Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer can fit into the smallest of kitchens, and its half load capacity makes it perfect for cleaning as you go. Another bonus – you’ll have plenty of plates space come time for dessert!
Good luck & don’t be afraid to say YES if people offer to help you! It doesn’t mean you’re a bad hostess, it means your friends totally rock! Cheers to them!