It has been reported that there were an estimated 2,221,000 weddings in the United States in 2008*. New nesters have settled into their new homes and started their lives together. This includes hanging out with friends and family. More than ever, people who have been out in the workforce all day decline to get back out in the hustle and bustle of traffic and crowds to socialize with friends in noisy restaurants. Look at the phenomenal success of the Food Network. People are interested in learning how to cook and how to throw great dinner parties that fit their budgets. There is a return trend to casual entertaining at home.
The problem? Many new nesters have never entertained in their lives and don’t know how to go about it. What’s more, they have little time to pull off elaborate entertaining and few have the budget to hire expensive caterers or personal chefs. It is easy to imagine a comfortable evening at home with delicious food and drink, great music and the laughter of good friends and family. The question is how does one pull it off with a small budget and little or no experience?
1. First of all, a beginner needs to disabuse herself of the notion that she has to be an accomplished gourmet chef to host a fabulous dinner party.
2. She also needs to avoid the opposite extreme in thinking that she will inevitably be a nervous wreck if she attempts at-home entertaining.
3. The novice host needs to focus on doing a few simple things well: She needs to concentrate on the food, the table and the relaxed, fun tone that she sets as host. The beginner does not need to focus on elaborate invitations, detailed decorations and complicated menus.
4. A beginner who paces herself in sensible planning, preparation and presentation gains confidence which leads to greater success and enjoyment of casual at-home entertaining. Simple time-saving tips like making a shopping list for recipe ingredients saves unnecessary last-minute trips to the store.
5. Once a host has chosen an unfussy menu, a call or e-vite is all that is necessary for a casual dinner party. A menu that can be prepared in advance is best for the beginner. If he/she has never prepared the recipes before, it is a good idea to divide the recipe in half and prepare it ahead of time. This gives more confidence on the day of the event.
6. Using items such as dishware, glasses and serving trays that the budding host already owns saves time and money rather than purchasing themed paper goods and decorations. A simple low vase of flowers and unscented candles add to the ambiance. Good music also sets the mood.
7. Two hours before the dinner party, the host should take time to get dressed and ready. As the guests arrive, each should be welcomed and introduced to other guests. With introductions made and a drink in hand, guests will immediately feel at ease.
8. The host sets the tone for the evening. Being poised and relaxed is a great start for an enjoyable time. Last but not least, a host should have fun and add his or her own flavor and style to entertaining. Guests will enjoy this most of all!
Patricia Mendez, copyright 2008
Patricia is the author of the book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners. The book has been named 2009 Silver Recipient Mom’s Choice Award. Patricia has designed and written her book for beginners who would like to learn to host casual entertaining but may have never done so in their lives. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef or nervous wreck to host a great dinner party!