If you ask my husband and I what we enjoy most, we’ll both say sharing a meal with our family and friends. We feel fortunate to have both grown up in households where showing hospitality was always extended.
Sadly, sharing a home cooked meal with friends seems to have become a forgotten tradition. I get the dilemma, cooking a meal for a crowd can be time-consuming, and stressful, which can suck the joy out of the entertaining experience.
In the last couple of years, I’ve made some adjustments which has made me a happier host. What’s that? I don’t serve meals. Why? Everyone shows up at different times, I find it difficult to keep up with the growing list of everyone’s food allergies, and I’ve gotten lazy. So, I adjusted.
# 1 Break Traditions
Don’t try to be a copy cat of the experience you had growing up. Hospitality should not be about serving meals; it’s about getting together with friends. For us, it’s usually pretty spontaneous and only planned a day or a few hours in advance. Here is how we make it happen without going insane and making sure a good time is on the menu.
# 2 Finger Foods
Presentation, in my opinion, fools our guest into thinking I’m a better cook than I am. When in reality I pretty much decorate several appetizers, some of which hardly took any time to prepare. A few well-displayed items prepared in advance creates a good illusion I’ve worked harder than I did.
I’ve taken some time to curate a few “finger food menus” that work well together and add only 1 or 2 homemade items in the mix. Since everything is done before guests arrive, I can enjoy my company instead of worrying about the food. If you would like free copies of my pre-planned menus, recipes and printouts you can grab them below.
# 3 Don’t Try to Cater To Everyone’s Taste
It’s impossible to please everyone and trying to serve a meal that everyone will be happy with will only frustrate you. Serving finger foods allows you to provide a variety of items. So, when your cousin passes on the greens don’t take it personally. Anyone who passes on the veggies is not your problem.
# 4 Cute Signage & Printed Menus
A few months ago, when I hosted a pool party I created printed recipes for Mojitos to “pretty up” my drink station. This was my attempt to simplify my life and hint my friends into being their own bartenders, haha. The result, it became a conversational piece, and my friends ended up competing who could make the best drink. I was served poolside instead of playing waitress.
# 5 My Love of Bar Carts
This is a total game-changer! If you incorporate a bar cart into your decor, you will find that you will only need to tweak it for your hosting needs since your cart is usually somewhat stocked.
View your bar cart as your drink station for any type of hosting as it could serve as a coffee, brunch or cocktail station.
Next, organize your tools to let you muddle, measure, shake, and stir with ease. Style your cart with fresh ingredients that will be used in your drinks. Group your lemons, limes in a pretty bowl for display and a small potted mint plant for those garnishes.
Maybe even store a few cocktail recipe bookson the cart which can help you create a signature drinks and give you some inspiration.
A bar cart has endless possibilities and I love multi-purpose pieces that can give a home a unique style. A bedroom is a great place to park your cart when not in use. It serves this bedroom well as an end table.
# 6 Prepare For The Aftermath
If you can, try to plan ahead for the cleaning aftermath of hosting. Before guests arrive empty out your trash, and make sure the dishwasher is ready for the next dirty load. That way, when the evening is over, you can clean up with ease once your guests are gone.
# 7 Accept The Help
Say yes, if friends offer to bring something. Here’s the beauty of a finger food style of hosting. Anything goes and when in doubt use the offer to stock up your drink station.
Remember entertaining should be about having a good time with friends and there is no wrong way to entertain. Don’t get trapped by old traditions and over complicating things. Host in a way that allows you not to be easily distracted or focused on what needs to come out of the oven next.
Besides, if you’re stressed out and busy cleaning up after everyone, you will view entertaining as a chore. If you stay in the moment, laugh and enjoy your friends everyone will be happier because of it!
For more home styling tips and tricks drop by anytime. Hey, we’re always up for company.