The past few weeks I had a few after work get-togethers, which taught me a few lessons about mid-week entertaining. Last week went smoothly, while last night I was scrambling last minute and then ended up putting a few of my guests to work to help me push out some food (thank you Megan and Meghan - I couldn’t have done it without you!).
So here are my DO’s and DON’Ts based on my experiences:
- Adjust your own expectations. This is a mid-week gathering and you have a full time job. No one expects a feast of all feasts. Which brings me to…
- Have a manageable plan. Last week I gave myself the task of making 2 apps and 1 dessert which I quickly whipped up together the night before. Everyone was more than happy with just that and a cooler full of beer!
- Get help – from your guests and your grocery store Guests always ask what to bring – give them specific instructions (beer, dessert, etc.) or go a step further and make it a potluck gathering. Last night the feast below (and more! we had to use a side table) was all put out by my guests!! A few items from the grocery store completed the table. You don’t have to cook every single thing from scratch. Cheese + cured meats went quickly. Crostini from fresh baguette + ricotta and sour cherry jam (all store-bought) was one of my favorite appetizers of the night! Even on the night of the party, get help from your guests with last minute touches if you need it. Many of them offer help, take them up on it if it’s going to ensure you’re not stuck in the kitchen all night while everyone else is having fun (although that shouldn’t happen if you actually plan right – see don’ts.)
- Have a partner in crime – Adam buzzed people in and was making sure everyone had a drink in hand and enjoyed each other’s company while I was still finishing up my dish.
- Make things ahead of time. I know this is obvious but man, was I reminded of this last night. I left a lot of things to last minute and paid the price. I like dips and dishes that can be warmed up or baked right before the party. Do the work ahead of time and you’ll be much more likely to enjoy the party you’re hosting!
- Don’t over commit – seriously, don’t! I know you may feel like people have high expectations because you’re known as the food blogger or a really great cook, but remember – this is a midweek party. Keep it simple and manageable and your guests will be happy. I promise!
- Don’t be cocky – Last party went so smoothly that you think you can just wing it and end up watching 5 episodes of Top Chef Just Desserts instead of prepping the night before? (totally hypothetical ). Nope – not a good plan. Have a plan and execute on it – this is how you keep your reputation as the hostest with the mostest!
- Don’t be a perfectionist – Last minute things at work so you couldn’t get off early to make sure everything was 100% ready before your guests arrived? It’s OK! As I was still making the pizza monkey bread below and needed my guests’ help, I kept rambling about how I was the worst host ever. Megan said something so sweet that really brought me to reality. She said: “Elina, look around. Everyone is having fun in the living room. You’re among friends. And you’re human.” Phew! It’s good to be among friends.
Last night’s guests were some of my favorite blogger friends: Meghan, Megan, Elizabeth, Cara (and husband Ben), Lizzy, Bridget, Shannon (and boyfriend Mike), Melissa and Josh, Kerstin, Ranjani, Tiffany (and husband Kyle). Check out their blogs if you don’t follow them yet!
I made this pizza monkey bread again last night but since this post is getting too long, I’m going to ask you to wait a little longer for the recipe. I promise you it will be worth the wait. Just ask the people above!!
Speaking of Russian Bites, please give me some love on my post on vareniki (vegetarian Russian dumplings). Thanks! You’rethebestest.
Are you an entertaining guru? Share your do’s and don’ts with us!