Whether we’re entertaining old friends, new friends or family, most of us are keen to put our best foot forward when we have guests in our homes — and, frankly, that can be intimidating!
Maybe, in your nightmares, you’ve even seen yourself in the shoes of Michael and Jan from The Office’s dinner party episode. (If that’s in the back of your head, don’t worry; you pretty much have to try to screw it up that badly.)
A little bit of anxiety is understandable, of course — but the good news is that, most of the time, entertaining isn’t nearly as difficult as you might fear.
In fact, there are some surprisingly simple hosting tricks that will thrill your guests with thoughtfulness when you entertain, all while making the process easier on you. Read on for seven of the most important ones to know!
Cook something that requires minimal attention.
Your guests will feel more comfortable (and have more fun) if you can give them your full attention, rather than half-listening as you scramble to prepare dinner.
Thus, it’s a good idea to choose a recipe that will let you do most of your active cooking and prep before your guests arrive. Then, you can transfer your food to cook in the oven or another hands-off cooking appliance.
If you have a pellet grill, this is the perfect time to bust it out — the automatic feed system will keep a consistent flow of wood pellets, and most pellet grill recipes don’t require much supervision.
Set the mood with music.
Music is one of your most powerful tools for setting the vibe in your home, so put it to good use! Some people find that throwing on some favorite vinyls creates the right classy mood; others live by the precision and endless selection of Spotify playlists.
When it comes to which artists and genres will create the right mood, it’s all about knowing your audience. Will they enjoy the chilled-out vibes of jazz? What about some classic soul or R&B?
Or would they dig the energy of electronic music or hip-hop? If you’re not sure of your guests’ preferred music, you could always let them choose — set out a few favorite vinyls in different genres and ask them to pick!
Find out what your guests like to eat.
Asking about your guests’ dietary restrictions is a given. However, if you really want to wow them (and you’re confident in cooking a variety of foods), try finding out what they’d like to eat!
The idea is less to cater perfectly to everyone and more to decide on the general style and elements of cuisine that your guests will enjoy most. Including a little something for everybody will really make your dinner more enjoyable and give it a sense of thoughtfulness that money can’t buy.
This can be especially important if guests are bringing kids, who may not be wild about the mushroom risotto you’ve been planning.
Plan something fun for your guests’ kids to do.
Speaking of kids: If guests are bringing theirs, make sure the young’uns have something to do other than sit around with the grown-ups the whole time!
Try setting up a kids’ space away from the main social area with craft supplies, board games and/or toys. Or, if you’ve got an outdoor space and the weather is suitable, encourage them to run around outside.
Kids are also great at keeping each other entertained, so if you’ve got lots of friends with young’uns, invite a few. You might have slightly less peace and quiet, but the kids will have a lot more fun!
Have cocktail supplies ready to roll.
In many homes, serving tasty cocktails is an essential part of entertaining. The idea, however, is to enjoy sipping that Manhattan as you’re talking to your friends, not to spend a bunch of time running around looking for your bitters.
Try shaking things up a bit by introducing your guests to a cocktail known as a “Painkiller.” This tropical drink, with its mix of rum, pineapple, orange juice, and cream of coconut, is bound to impress and become a conversation piece!
Thus, you’ll want to have all of your cocktail supplies prepared before your guests get there. Depending on what you’re serving, essentials can include a shaker, stir spoon, jigger, ice and, of course, whatever liquors and mixers you’re using.
Oh, and make sure you’ve got a high-quality matching set of tumblers, martini glasses or whatever type of glass you’re serving cocktails in.
Have a space available for guests to stay the night.
Even if you don’t intend for your next event to be a sleepover, keeping a spare bedroom ready is still a wonderfully thoughtful gesture that will endear you to your guests.
An open guest room can be a godsend for guests who live far away, or even ones who’ve simply had a little too much to drink over the course of the night.
(In the latter case, you might even need to insist that guests stay over.) Make sure that it’s stocked with fresh linen before guests arrive and, if you can, provide a few different types of pillows and blankets to ensure everyone can get comfy.
If you’re still feeling a little nervous, remember: Your guests almost certainly don’t expect everything to be 100 percent perfect!
Most people find entertaining a little nerve-wracking, and thus they’re inclined to be forgiving if something is a little wonky. The best get-togethers are the ones that focus on what really matters: enjoying each other’s company.