The Joys of Planning Ahead
My ten tips to have a stress free dinner party.
- Planning is your best ally. Make a list of the menu and a grocery list at the same time. Set up your table the day before, if possible. Plan to buy your candles and napkins in advance. Is your tablecloth clean? A little music perhaps? And think about a little bathroom cleaning before your guests arrives.
- Do your guests have allergies or intolerances? Is one of your guests celebrating something special in the next few days? It would be unfortunate not to mark a birthday or promotion. Make sure you confirm the time with everyone the day before.
- Men and women should be alternated around the table to better animate the discussion. You can give visual cues, example: yellow napkin for girls and blue for guys.
- If you're making a slow-cooked dish in the oven for a long time, avoid having a hot appetizer requiring another oven temperature… unless you have two stoves! If you do then you know what you are doing.
- Make a meal plan with a schedule; it is useful to know when the potatoes are cooked and when the meat is ready…
- If you invite only another couple, plan a dish that doesn't require too much preparation at the last minute. You will want to converse with your friends. On the other hand, if you are expecting more, your guests they will be able to chat together while you are in the kitchen with your spouse to cook.
- Don't serve overly spicy appetizers, your guests won't taste the more delicate-flavored dish served afterwards. This one is a really hard one for me to follow since I love spicy appetizers. One time I thought, gee, if the appetizer is spicy maybe the main course should be spicier. Talk about an experience.
- Always make a larger quantity, rule of thumb: it is better to have leftovers than to leave your guests hungry. Plus, your food will be ready for one more meal on weekdays.
- Try to balance the "filling" side of your meal, your guests will appreciate not being on the verge of stomach rupture.
- Always have a pitcher of water on the table. When you drink wine you have to hydrate a lot. And this may help some people not to drink too much.
Do you have a good trick to share to simplify your life when you host? Share it with me!
P.S. … If you're embarking on something complicated, keep your mother's phone number nearby… Mine saved me from disaster when I made my first beef Wellington.
P.P.S. Also make sure to put color on the plate! Don't serve monotone meals, diversify and you will make a bigger impression. This also works into our favor since this doesn't have to be super expensive.