You say: "Hey guys, why don't you come over on Friday night for dinner?"
You think: "Oh, Sh*t. What have I just done?"
Then you start playing the film reel in your mind. You know the one. It's opens on a lively scene, set in a gorgeously appointed home with candlelight and soft music playing in the background. It's filled with impossibly beautiful people who have their heads artfully thrown back in laughter as they discuss sophisticated topics of the day. As the camera zooms in, you see the perfect host or hostess, effortlessly chic, charming and relaxed, serving delicious, beautifully presented appetizers and an inventive signature cocktail. She looks happy. But who the hell is SHE?
We may not be able to give you a Hollywood experience, but we DO know how you can have friends over who experience something special taking place. And where people leave feeling really good because they've connected with each other And...
We know how you can relax and even enjoy your own party!
This weekend, set aside 2 hours.
The point here is that if you do all of this once per season, you really will only need 10 minutes to pull everything together (including yourself!) every single time you have people coming over!
* Find two appetizer recipes. Ones that can be quickly pulled together. These are your go-to staples that you will always serve. Don't choose anything that requires at lot of prep work that needs to be done right before serving. (See below for ideas).
* Look up one great tasting cocktail. This will be your "signature" drink. Take out a pretty piece of paper and in your best handwriting, write out the recipe so people can try their hand at making their own drinks.
* Make up a playlist of songs. Think jazz or classical if you don't want the lyrics to interrupt conversation. Or maybe you and your group of friends love a particular genre or era. Try a Motown mix or a bunch of songs from when you were in college.
* Take a look at your wardrobe. Choose 2-3 outfits that make you feel beautiful. These are your go-to choices so you don't have to try on a million things a half hour before guests arrive.
* Decide now where you'll set up your bar and apps. It should be where you plan on hanging out, not in the kitchen. You might want to store candles, napkins, plates, etc in this room if possible.
take inventory & stock up
* One platter or bowl for each of your go-to appetizers
* One or two platters and bowls in case any of your guests come with their offering in an old tupperware container
* 4 or 5 serving spoons and tongs
* A good number of small to medium sized plates. Doesn't matter if they match.
* A good number of small forks.
* A good number of basic wine glasses
* A good number of glasses that are appropriate for your signature cocktail
* Packages of pretty paper cocktail napkins
* Lots of white, scent-free candles and matches
* A scented candle for the bathroom
* A case each of your favorite white and red wines. 2 bottles of white go in the fridge.
* An ice bucket
* A case of sparkling water or seltzer in attractive bottles (to cut back on the number of glasses you'll need)
* A selection of high quality chocolates (easiest dessert ever)
10 Minutes Before Guests Arrive
- Set out dishes, napkins, forks, glasses, cocktail recipe (if using)
- Assemble your appetizers and set them out
- Go change
- Turn on your playlist
- Light candles
- Fill the ice bucket and pull out the white wine
- Pour yourself a drink while the doorbell makes its first ring
What Works For Us
* We remind ourselves constantly that the whole point of gathering people together is to offer an experience of community. The parties we all remember are the ones where we really connected with people, laughed hard and felt comfortable in our own skin.
* It takes so little to make your guests feel like something special is happening. Using real plates instead of paper, pouring crackers into a bowl instead of keeping them in the box, and lighting candles. If we've done these three things, we're doing well.
* If anyone asks if they can bring something, we always say "YES!" We ask them to bring their favorite appetizer. Now we have enough food for a group and we've only prepared two things!
* If we know for sure someone has an allergy to a certain food, or if they don't eat meat, we go ahead and make sure one of our appetizers meets those needs. Otherwise, we don't sweat it.
* We don't worry about having a full bar. A signature cocktail is plenty. And sometimes we replace the cocktail with a case of a good IPA beer.
* We banish the use of overhead lights. Candlelight is the most flattering AND it doesn't show dust so you can scratch that off your list.
* Which brings us to this important rule: We do a minimum amount of tidying up! A good smelling candle in the bathroom does a wonderful job of distracting people from an omission of a deep clean.
* We don't ask our guests to take off their shoes. We're probably going to have to sweep up or vacuum the next day anyway.
* Charcuterie platter: proscuitto, salami, olives, 2 cheeses
* 2 minute blanched green beans or asparagus, dropped in an ice bath for 30 seconds and sprinkles with salt and a squeeze of lemon
*Cold smoked and seasoned salmon with crackers
* Canned white beans mixed with a little garlic, olive oil, salt and rosemary
Pomegranate Jack Rose
1.5 oz. Applejack Brandy
1 oz. Grenadine
1 oz. Fresh Lime
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add ingredients. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy!
And if you have time... you can easily make your own grenadine.
- 1/2 cup Pomegranate Juice Concentrate
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1/2 cup Turbinado Sugar
- Add ingredients to a saucepan.
- Over low heat, stir until sugar is fully dissolved.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Store in fridge for a week or add a little vodka to stay fresh longer.
Now what would it be like if that host or hostess from the beginning of this post was you? What if you were the one who wasn't sweating bullets getting your house ready? Or agonizing over the menu, making multiple trips to the grocery store? Or kicking yourself for hosting this party in the first place? What if you actually were able to enjoy your own party??? Just imagine...