Entertaining at home doesnít have to be a complicated process. A contingency plan and some afterthought will leave you stress free and ready to plan your next event.
If you have an ice maker, start putting it away in bags a couple days ahead of the party. Store it in one or two gallon size zippered bags. If freezer space is limited, ice can be purchase at a party store or gas station the day of the party. Use an ice-bucket or glass bowl along with a pair of tongs for serving ice. You donít want anyone reaching in with their hands to retrieve the ice, that would be unsanitary.
Adventures In Babysitting
If the party includes children, consider having a separate room set up for them if space allows. Have games, movies, and maybe simple craft activities to occupy and entertain them. Depending on the age of the children, an older child or teenager is needed to supervise them. Leave room in your entertaining budget to pay a babysitter if need be. Make the children feel special by setting up a make your own ice cream sundae or decorate your own cupcakes, if space is available. If this isnít an option, popcorn as a snack always works. Let them choose from lightly buttered popcorn, caramel, or kettle corn. Bottled water or juice is a great go with. Should you decide to serve juice check with the parents to see if their kids are allowed to have it.
Stick with tried and true simple dishes. Save the recipes with an armís length of ingredients for another occasion. Make and bake from scratch may be your motto, but using ready made or boxed items can, and will save time, money and your sanity.
Music is the perfect background for most parties and events. Whether youíre entertaining at home or elsewhere, background music for ambience or something more up tempo for dancing, enhances any party. Let Pandora or other internet radio stations be your DJ for the night. They have music in every genre and for every occasion. One word of caution in regards to Pandora; if the music stops Pandora will want to know if youíre still listening. A quick trip to the computer to press the ďIím still listeningĒ tab will keep the party going.
At the End of the Day
You did it! Your guests had the perfect dining experience thanks to your planning, entertaining and culinary expertise. Before you pat yourself on the back, thereĎs cleaning to be done. The best time to do this is right after the last guest leaves. If they offer to help, let them. First, put away all food. Buy plastic containers or used zippered bags to store any leftovers. If your neighbors graciously donated parking space be sure and send them a plateful of goodies. After the food is put away, load the dishwasher if you have one, or wash everything by hand and put it away immediately. Wipe up any spills and treat any linen that may be stained. Sweep the floor and prepare any rentals that may have been used for return. Inspect the bathrooms also. You donít want to face any surprises in the morning.
While the eveningís events are still fresh in your mind, take notes on what went well and what didnít. Jot down any changes youíd make the next time around. Relying on memory doesnít always work.
The Day After
Hopefully, the only thing on your to-do list the day after an event is rest and relaxation. Put your feet up, stay in your pajamas and feast on the leftovers. Enjoy the title of the "Hostess with the Mostess", take a bow, and get some deserved rest.