How many times have you been invited to someone’s place for a home-cooked meal? What used to be a common occurrence fell out of vogue for a while. If you really want to enjoy some quality time with friends or family, dump the “meet me at” idea and invite them over to your place. There is nothing that promotes conversation like the comfort of a home-cooked meal in your home.
Here are a few quick ideas to make your hosting go smoothly and easily:
- The Guest List: Think ahead, who will mix well with who? Bringing friends together from different parts of your life can be a challenge so think carefully about the social skills of all involved. Think about the guest list as you might think about fixing a friend up on a blind date. As you get ideas of which friends you think might gel, make notes to keep for future party lists.
- The Food: Feeling daring? Are your guests understanding? Then try new recipes for your guests. If you’re a bit nervous or your guests are not so forgiving, stick with the tried and true dishes you know you can handle. Either way, be sure to ask guests if they have food allergies or aversions. You can either plan out the menu in advance or let what is fresh and available at the market be your guide. If you’re a novice, we recommend planning the menu in advance.
- What can we bring? There is no shame in allowing your guests to contribute to the festivities by bringing something. Don’t like making dessert? Let a guest bring it. Selecting wine is not your thing? Let a guest bring some (always have extra just in case!). It is also OK to say, “bring nothing but your charming personality!”
- The set up: If you have the space, try moving around a bit over the course of the evening. Apps in one room, dinner in another, dessert ??? Sitting in one place for 3-4 hours can be tiresome. You might even invite your guests into the kitchen for apps and to keep yourself in the conversation while you’re preparing dinner.
- Serving: The way you set your table is an expression of your creativity and style. Don’t be afraid to have people say that you “fussed.” They might kid you a bit but in the end, they’ll be flattered that you cared enough to make an effort for them. Serve in interestingly shaped and decorated bowls and trays. A little garnish (a few sprigs of parsley) can really dress up your presentation. Avoiding the matchy-matchy of your grandparents in favor of mixing some of your favorite shapes, textures and materials.
- Have fun! Don’t be a slave to your kitchen. Be in the moment and enjoy!