Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Entertaining 101: Tips From A Stressed Hostess

I love/hate to entertain.  I get so excited about it, I always invite too many people, and then I stress way too much about everything.  Am I going to have enough food?  Is the house clean enough?  Why didn't I do 'x' and 'x'?  However, with the holidays quickly approaching, we will probably all be doing our fair share of entertaining.  So, I thought I would share a few tips that I have learned along the way.

I probably entertain about once or twice a month.  Some of these events are small, some are big.  Something always goes wrong, but we always have a great time.  I'm going to use my most recent party, my Halloween party, as an example for this little cheat sheet.

1.  Clean in advance!  This is the best tip I can give you.  Having a party on Friday?  Clean the weekend before.  That way, all you have to do is keep it tidy throughout the week.  And trust me, you will find something that needs to be cleaned the day before or the day of.  So do as much as you can in advance.

2.  Don't cook if you don't have to.  Some parties are just friends getting together and hanging out.  Don't feel like you have to cook something.  Pick up some chips and salsa just so people can munch on something.  Or put out some pretzels.  Or don't.  If you start a party around 7 or later, people don't expect food.

3.  If you start a party before 7 people do expect food.  Here are two easy options:
     A.  Potluck.  Always a good idea.  Get all of your friends to bring a dish.  Don't worry about a theme, or having too many desserts.  As long as most people bring something, there will be enough food.
    B.  Make a big pot of something.  This is what I did for Halloween.  I made two big pots of chili, and I made them 2 days in advance.  Everyone loves chili.  I had a few topping options so people could personalize (I didn't go crazy, I had cheese, sour cream, onions, jalepenos, green onions, fritos, and rice) and I left it at that.  Everyone was full and happy and we had plenty of leftovers.

4.  Tell everyone it is BYOB, BUT (and this is very important) always have extra alcohol.  Someone is not going to bring any at all, and you should be prepared for that.  On simple occasions, I just buy extra beer.  But for this party, we made punch.  Not a ton of punch, and not a knock-you-on-your-ass punch, just something that will supplement what people brought.  Jello shots are always a good option too, since they can be made in advance, but be warned, jello shots can lead to hilarity and craziness so save them for special occasions.  And definitely not family events (unless your family is awesome and loves jello shots).  DO NOT FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE EVERYONE'S ALCOHOL!  Alcohol is expensive, and if you provide all of the alcohol, you will never want to entertain again.

5.  If you are making a dessert, make it in advance.  Cakes, cookies, brownies, ect.  These are all things that stay fresh for a few days.  Don't make dessert the day of.  Not a baker?  Buy some candy.  That's what I did for my Halloween party, of course, cuz you can't have Halloween without candy, but I really liked it.  It took a lot of stress off of me.  I always feel like I have to bake something super impressive.  But everyone was just as happy with candy.  (I won't lie, I did make some chocolate chips cookies too, I couldn't help myself).

6.  Keep decorations simple.  I usually just go with candles and flowers, but for Halloween I added a few carved pumpkins and some dollar store finds.  Don't go crazy, but a little decoration can be cute.  Especially for holidays. (See picture below for one of my dollar store finds that turned out to be a lot of fun).

7.  Have people over every once in a while when your house isn't super clean.  I know this is a weird tip, but I used to never have people over without a super clean house.  Which means, I never had people over.  But it's ok to have your friends over when your house is a little messy.  And honestly, the first time I did it, I was semi-freaking out, but after that it has made me less stressed for other parties.  So what if my house isn't perfect?  My friends have seen it way messier.  Plus, everyone is going to hang out in the kitchen anyway, so just make sure that is semi-clean (Notice the picture below, everyone is in my kitchen).

8.  Have fun!  If the host/hostess isn't having fun, no one is having fun.

I hope these tips are helpful.  Anyone have any entertaining tips?


  1. Plenty of toilet paper.
    Ashtrays outside - some people still smoke.
    And absolutely spot on about the clean/semi-not clean house. NO ONE is going to run their finger across your mantlepiece, well maybe your mother, but no one else. People look at the overall picture of your home, not your dirty baseboards.
    And last but not least, but oh so important, NO OVERHEAD LIGHTS!!! Terrible.

  2. That picture of Ben is cracking me up.