While home hospitality may be your bread and butter, and you never feel more alive than with a tray of canapés in hand, for most people entertaining at home is an experiences that ranges from the mildly jitter-inducing to hand-tremblingly frightening. Most of us have a hard enough time feeding ourselves on a daily basis, let alone having to do it for a group of well-dressed friends in a clean house, at a reasonable hour.
There are many ways that you can boost your confidence when it comes to entertaining so that you can feel assured that your guests are feeling happy and comfortable, thus taking some of the pressure of you to be making repartee at the same time as wielding saucepans.
Here are some ideas for how to make the event as halcyon and enjoyable as possible:
What entertaining at home ultimately comes down to is that your friends or family have come to see you. When they arrive they would rather see your calm, smiling face than a frazzled, sweaty-browed mess labouring over a saucepan of rubbery gnocchi. As a host, the mood you are in sets the tone for the entire evening; if you’re in a pleasant mood, not matter how overdone/underdone/undone the food is, the evening will still be a pleasant one.
Cook or prepare as much of the food ahead of time as you can so that after the arrival of your guests you have as little to do as possible. That might mean baking the cake or chopping up the salad the day before: anything that can be served cold can be done long before you’re fluffing the cushions. Having a couple of pre-drinks might also help with dinner party jitters.
Bring the Outdoors Indoors
Buy or cut fresh flowers for the table. Placing little vases or jars of flowers throughout the house gives a beautiful freshness, and might also distract from the areas you couldn’t clean properly in time.
Even if you’re not running behind schedule with the cooking, make sure your guests have something to snack on when they arrive. You can buy plain nuts and roast them in a mixture of salt, sugar and spices to have in little bowls to chew on with drinks, or more daring vol-au-vents if you’re inclined. Having a snack not only means that no one has to drink on an empty stomach, but it also buys you time if dinner does start to run late.
Aside from giving the publicly viewed areas the best cleaning and dusting you can, a new stick of furniture, or a new rug can do wonders to liven up the space. A faded or threadbare rug will make an underwhelming impression, and also detract from the cleanliness of the rest of the room. Pass the old one down to your pet and transform your living or dining spaces with a beautiful rug.