This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I just wanted to share a few ideas with you about easy entertaining. Husband and I love to be social but putting together a dinner party is time consuming and, can be, stressful.
Choosing the right mix of friends, organising a mutually convenient date, planning the meal, doing the shopping, making sure the house is spotless and, of course, there is the prepping, cooking and finally the clearing up – all of which adds up to a lot of work.
If you are a naturally brilliant cook who can knock up a soufflé, take coats, put the flowers your guests bring you in vases, serve drinks and look glamorous without showing the smallest bead of perspiration, then this article is not for you.
However if you are an average cook who loves to entertain friends but wants the minimum of fuss and work then this post definitely is. Here are my top tips for relaxed entertaining:
Do as much of the preparation as you can the day before. For example, the set the table and fill a few little vases with foliage and flowers (keep them small, so that your guests can see over them). Buy a little bunch of, for example, freesias and use greenery from your garden to fill out each vase ie you don’t spend much on flowers but it looks as if you have.
Choose a main dish that you can cook a day in advance. It’s safer and less nerve-wracking to avoid recipes that you have never cooked before, especially if you are cooking on the day.
Keep it simple
One pot recipes are so much less stressful. CountryWives are big fans of The Roasting Tin cookbook. These simple one dish dinners really do take the stress out of cooking a main course.
Share the workload
If you have a partner, share the workload by agreeing who will do what. So much easier if one of you, for example, offers drinks while the other takes coats.
If one of your girlfriends offers to bring a pud (or indeed any other course) do accept. It is not an admission of your failure as a hostess. Simply a way of lessening the workload and more practical than a gift of flowers, chox or another odd bottle of wine.
Make sure your dishwasher is empty so you have plenty of room for all the dirty dishes. Likewise, check your rubbish bin is empty.
Make the canapés the starter. This way your guests mingle for longer before you sit down and you get more time to finish the main course in the kitchen. There are so many wonderful store bought canapes that you can buy, so no need to slave over a hot stove yourself – except to heat them up!
Some of our best supper parties have ended with cheese, fruit and bowls of Maltesers i.e. no pud! Don’t be a slave to the kitchen i.e. the more relaxed you are, the better the party.
It’s your choice of guests that really counts
At the end of the day the whole point of entertaining is to get good friends together and the better the mix of people the better the party regardless of your food or wine!