Guest Author - Sandra Lee Garth
Entertaining and creating pretty spaces doesnít always mean elaborate. It also doesnít always mean expensive. Aside from the menu and decorations, there are other things that need your attention.
First Things First
Cleaning is one aspect of entertaining thatís often overlooked. The outside of your home is a great place to start. Beginning with the entryway, get rid of any debris from the path where guests will enter into your home. This helps to remove any possibilities of a slip and fall. If you live in a cold weather climate and its winter, have plenty of salt and ice melt on hand. Make sure the entryway is well lit also. Standing outside in the dark waiting for the host to let you in isnít the most comfortable feeling. Another consideration is parking. If youíre expecting a crowd and parking will be at a premium, ask your neighbors if theyíre willing to share their driveway for a few hours. Send them a plate of goodies as a token of appreciation if theyíre not among the invited.
All public rooms need a once over, or possibly a deep cleaning. In addition, these rooms should be free of clutter. Guests shouldnít have to trip over the cords to your laptop or the kids toys.
Before You Cook
If you plan on dining in, or just hanging out in the kitchen, make sure itís as near to spotless as possible. This doesnít mean a remodel, just clean. A few days before the event clean out the refrigerator and freezer. This is a good way to take inventory of what you may need. Plus, it frees up room for any party food that needs to be refrigerator or frozen. Wipe down the cook top and counters so there are no grease or food splatters. Yes, the floor should be mopped and the tables cleaned. As much as you adore your childrenís artwork, consider removing it from the front of the refrigerator for the evening. It also goes without saying that there shouldnít be dishes in the sink. However, sometimes in the haste of preparing and serving food this is an area that can be overlooked.
When entertaining at home, inevitably someone will have to use the bathroom. You donít want your guests to shudder when they go into the bathroom, and neither do they. Toilets, sinks, and floors should be spotless. Clean the mirror, and remove any personal items from the counter. Hand or paper towels with liquid soap should be within reach, and eyesight. Check periodically to see if toilet paper needs to be replenished. Reed diffusers or plug in fresheners will leave the bathroom nicely scented for the partygoers.
Sit and Reach
Whether food is served buffet style or itís a sit down dinner, adequate seating is needed. All of the chairs donít have to match; they just need to be sturdy. If you donít have enough, borrow, or rent them. When renting chairs or any other equipment make sure itís returned in a timely manner, you donít want to lose your deposit and/or pay a late fee. If the guest list is long, it may be best to nix the idea of using your best china and crystal, accidents do happen. Everyday dinnerware is sufficient; again it doesnít have to match. The same holds true for flatware. Another alternative when using real dishes, flatware, and glasses is to check out thrift stores. You can score some major bargains. Scour the shelves for trays, platters, candleholders, napkins, and tablecloths.
Paper or Plastic?
There are tons of pretty and affordable options when using paper plates. It is wise to buy the best and most sturdy ones that your budget will allow. Thin and flexible paper plates generally donít hold up to heavier food items. Donít forget colorful and soft napkins that match, or compliment the plates. Some hostesses opt for paper napkins also when using linen to avoid stains that are hard to remove. The linen napkin is placed in the lap and the paper used to wipe the mouth. Use cutlery thatís in your color scheme or clear and make sure thereís enough of it. A good rule of thumb is to have at least two forks and spoons for each guest, the same goes for glasses. Guests donít always remember to save their utensils. They also will set down their glass and forget where they put it.
Youíve Been Served
Due to space restrictions you may have to serve from the stove, and from the pots or pans the food was cooked in. Use the best that you have and make sure the lids fit properly, and that handles are secure in case the pot or pan has to be moved.
Different scents in every room tend to compete with each other. They can also be nauseating and offensive. Choose one scent like a soft vanilla that leaves a pleasant aroma and wonít do battle with the scent of the lovely meal youíve prepared. Another consideration when choosing scents is the possibility of one of your guest having an allergic reaction.
Following these simple guidelines will leave you stress free and able to enjoy the festivities. A confident and relaxed host is one of the best elements of a party.