Healthy and Sane

Midweek entertaining do’s and don’ts

September 28th, 2011 · 28 Comments · appetizers, entertaining, game friendly, pizza

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 helpfrom 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!! :)


And these Russian cheesecake lollipops will be shared on Russian Bites next week. Be sure to check back there! Edited to add: here is the recipe. Don’t miss it! :)


Speaking of Russian Bites, please give me some love on my post on vareniki (vegetarian Russian dumplings). Thanks! You’rethebestest. Winking smile

Are you an entertaining guru? Share your do’s and don’ts with us! Smile

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Megan

    I cannot wait for that monkey bread recipe! Great party last night. You did an amazing job. I rarely attempt midweek parties. I tend to spend all day on a Saturday getting ready for a party… you pulled this off in no time!

    • #2 - Elina

      I think it is really about the right expectations and being flexible. If this party was on a Saturday, I’d be prepping all day too… but that’s just because I’d have higher standards for myself. Midweek party? Keep it simple and it will be casual and fun :) Thanks again for your help!! I had that ricotta + cherry spread this morning over an english muffin for breakfast. SO good!!

  • #3 - nicole

    do not stab the people that show up an hour late. it is hard to resist, but you must remember violence is never the answer. ha

    really good advice.

    • #4 - Elina

      Hahahaha. I can’t stand when the late guests were supposed to bring stuff that I was relying on. But yeah, stabbing is never the answer 😉

  • #5 - Ranjani

    You did a great job with the party! And the monkey bread was amazing. I’m definitely going to try a variation on that for my next party

    • #6 - Elina

      Yeah, it’s super adaptable and I know I’ll be making it over and over. I want to do a veggie version next time!

  • #7 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    Good tips! I am not daring enough to host on a weekday… sometimes I can barely get dinner together, period!

  • #8 - Kelly

    These are great tips. I am DEFINITELY guilty of biting off more than I can chew and being too much of a perfectionist about things so these tips serve as a good reminder.

    Sounds like a fun crew. So jealous I wasn’t there!

  • #9 - shannon

    ha, sorry i was late :) but love all your tips here!! making things ahead is definitely key, as is taking people up on their offer to help! definitely a good time, thanks for being the hostest with the mostest :)

  • #10 - Meghan@travelwinedine

    The night was perfect! I think everyone was expecting a laid back night of mid-week mingling, and you went above and beyond. That pizza bread was insane!

  • #11 - Diana @ frontyardfoodie

    These are SO true. I never put them together in my mind but yeah, I definitely struggle with trying to over shoot things and be perfect.

    I usually host parties on Sunday afternoons and it’s sort of the same thing because I’m not home until everyone else gets there (church) and I have to be SO specific in what I ask people to bring. I’m getting better and better at picking the right meals and I’m starting to get more and more excited about each week.

  • #12 - Joanne

    I rarely entertain during the week for exactly this reason! It just seems too hectic. But with these tips…you might just make a hostess out of me.

  • #13 - Michelle

    I’m bummed to have missed your party. I ended up working until 8 PM while battling a cold. I’m glad to hear that everything went well!

  • #14 - Kim @ Eat, Live, and Blog

    I can’t wait for monkey bread recipe! It looks amazing!

  • #15 - Bridget

    Mmm I wish I had a piece of that Monkey bread right now!! It was awesome! I had such a great time Tuesday :) I love the mid-week get togethers sometimes because it’s something to look forward to after a long day at work…esp now that I am already in the city! Sorry for being the last one to leave 😉 Thanks again!!

  • #16 - Kristen @ Swanky Dietitian

    I love that you had a blogger party. How fun!
    It looks like it turned out amazing! Great tips! I always try to have everything perfect when I have dinner parties but I need to let it go.

  • #17 - Emily@SavoryandSavage

    A blogger party sounds so fun! Great tips.

    If I entertain mid-week I tend to way over-extend myself – following your tips would make mid-week entertaining a pleasant thing :-)

  • #18 - inna

    stop it with the monkey bread already! i’m drooling, and drooling, and drooling… when will it end?

  • #19 - Lara

    I think these are good tips for entertaining ANY night of the week :) So, I’ve never really entertained before, but now that we have more space, I think it is in my future. Do you have any other posts with entertainment tips? :)

  • #21 - Cara

    You did wonderful my dear, thanks again for hosting and for the fabulous food!

  • #22 - Hilliary @ HappilyEverHealthy

    These are great entertaining tips! The cheesecake lollipops look fabulous! I like to keep things simple with one dish that really stands out as a wow factor! I am usually entertaining with my boyfriend, and he loves to cook/entertain which makes entertaining easy and fun!

  • #23 - Sophie @ LoveLiveAndLearn

    Love the tips, they’re super helpful!
    The food looks amazing too and I really like the look of that pizza monkey bread, can’t wait for the recipe :-)

  • #24 - Kerstin

    Such great tips! Thanks for hosting and for making that fabulous pizza monkey bread – can’t wait for the recipe :)

  • #25 - Pizza monkey bread + Pomi giveaway | Healthy and Sane

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  • #26 - Elizabeth

    This was so fun! Definitely appreciate you playing hostess. Anytime you want to do it again, fine by me :)

  • #27 - Lizzy

    I’m late in commenting, but you’re party was absolutely fabulous and I had a wonderful time. These are some great rules to live by : )

  • #28 - Jen @

    Great tips! Sounds like the party was a great success. I was bummed to have missed it.