Hosting Without Stress

My idea for a dinner party goes like this; a flawlessly placed appetizers, a mouthwatering table spreads and conversations that will last longer than the last bite of the desserts. The reality is somehow like this; a frozen pizza placed on a rusty oven pan and me, the hurried host, still drying my hair when the guests arrive. 

I could never be Martha Stewart, but I can get a bit closer, and with less stress, using these five expert tips:
1.Plan it out. 
Ivy Manning, a cookbook author and food writer states that even the most relaxed dinner parties requires an ample amount of preparation. Manning times her dishes out ahead of time and includes both the cooking and resting time of each dish. “A lot of people forget about foods cooling off period.”
Timelines can be a delicate thing to master, but Ivy Manning insists on one thing every time. Whether it’s a few bowls of nuts or a full appetizers, give your guests something to eat. Everyone has arrived, you begin to serve drinks immediately, and your dinner takes an hour or longer than expected. “Then you come back to the party and everyone is soaked because they have had nothing to eat,” says Manning.
I’m a big list writer,” Manning explains. “I am a professional cook, so it seems a little absurd, but when there are people in the kitchen chatting and drinking, you need a list to keep you on track.”
2.Delegate.
Ivy Manning appoints her husband with ensuring every guest has a full glass of drink, this frees her up to focus on her main meal. However this rule does not apply to party guests. “If you put guests to work, they would not want to come back to your house anymore.” says Mark Addison, an entertaining expert and stylist, Addison offers a lot of helpful tips posted on his website, markaddison.com.
Assign jobs to people in your household ahead of time. Every good manager knows that delegation is the key to success.
3.Add just a dash of pizzazz.
You can take a simple mashed potatoes and then add a luxurious element such as truffle oil, which Ivy Manning considers a simple way to elevate a standard. “I will serve little canapés made from a potato put some rational caviar on top, and people go crazy for it,” which is funny because it’s still just a potato says Manning. Just because you’re keeping the meal simple, it does not mean you can’t add a little flare to a dish
4.Simplify. 
According to Ivy Manning, “People always want to impress, so they whip out all of these recipes from different cookbooks and magazines, and then ends up with a riot on the plate.” People also overstrain themselves with food, this sets a few drawbacks. It is time consuming and messier to make, it is also overwhelming to guests if you are trying to put different things into one meal. Manning also adds that considering how the flavors go together in planning a meal is more important. Serving a bunch of different dishes is completely unnecessary, an item or two that you completely mastered is always good enough.
Mark Addison says, “Minimize the maintenance where ever, whenever you can,” which means that do not try to set up a full bar for just four dinner guest. Addison insists that beer and wine is just fine. If you don’t want to worry yourself about serving guests, let them serve themselves by setting up a warm buffet. “They have come a long way since the Betty Crocker days.” Addison explains.
5.Enjoy the time. 
This may not be the easiest tip to follow but this is the most important one.  You have to remember your reasons of having the dinner party, which is to have a good time with the company of others.  You also want the your guests to feel your happiness too. An when the dinner is already done, just stack the dishes in the sink cleanly, store away any food which spoils fast and move the your party in a different room or place. Remember not to pull up your sleeves and start cleaning. “If you do that, it means your pulling up the curtain on the party.” Says Manning.

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM