I love hosting parties for my friends and family. Days before the party I start perusing the internet or Pinterest searching for great ideas or a theme. A couple days before the party, I head off to the store with my old-school, hand written grocery list to purchase supplies. The day of the party, while rocking my kitchen to a retro 80’s station, I chop, blend, mix and bake my way through the day. As Bon Jovi fills my kitchen (I wish), I watch the clock tick away and I feel exhilarated and super STRESSED!
Last week, I decided to host a bruschetta party. I planned ahead, bought all the ingredients I needed and did a little prep work the night before. When I woke up on party day, I was sick. I considered cancelling the party, but I had so much food and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I decided to power through, but I had to change my plan of being the great host and having everything prepared and looking beautiful when the first guest walked through the door.
Instead, I put out bowls of tomatoes, avocado, various meats, spreads, herbs, cheeses and toasted baguette. My highly organized happy hour became a make your own bruschetta bar. As an added element, I created an inspiration station. I provided colored post-it notes and pens so my guest could write their personal bruschetta creation and stick it to the wall. My guests we delighted. Everyone was having a great time and I realized they weren’t just eating, they were having an experience with food and engaging each other in conversation.
This changed the way I think about entertaining a group of people. Parties don’t have to be time consuming or stressful! Let us help take some of the stress out of hosting a party so you can concentrate on…well, having fun.
1. Create a happy hour menu with a theme. There’s no need to plan a full meal deal. Host a casual happy hour and pick a theme that has a lot of toppings and condiments such as nachos, salads, baked potatoes, pasta or tapas.
2. Use the salad bar. Visit your local grocery store’s salad bar to save time and cut down on waste. Salad bar cooking allows you to buy fresh ingredients that are already chopped and diced.
3. Buy ingredients that are ready to go. I’m all about cutting down on prep work. For example, buy pre-shredded or sliced cheese, meat trays from the deli, spreads and sauces from a jar.
4. Engage your guests in the experience. Give each guest one ingredient to bring or provide everything and let your friends build their own meal.
5. Say no to clean up! We all know the worst part of entertaining is the post-party clean up. Use small storage bowls with lids. Just before the party, remove the lids and put the food out. When all the guests have gone just slap the lid on the bowl and into the refrigerator it goes.