Entertaining at home is a favorite past time, but as we all know, it can be very stressful, expensive, and time-consuming. We may ask ourselves why bother, and be convinced that it is too much of a hassle to invite friends over.
These 4 hacks will help to keep you sane and have you well prepared to welcome anyone over at a moment's notice. So sit back, and enjoy hosting your next event or unexpected guests by taking the worry out of the process.
Hack 1. Your Food and Drink Essentials List
The key is to keep your refrigerator, freezer and pantry stocked with essential items that can be pulled out to create tasty and beautiful dishes in a pinch. Basic quality ingredients are the foundation for delicious food.
Frozen Store-bought or homemade Pie Dough or Pastry Sheets
Keep left over dough scraps in the freezer or open a new box for easy and fun recipes that will make your guests question how you manage to do it all, and make it look so easy. Tasty morsels can be made by filling a pastry with goat cheese and preserves, sauteed mushrooms, sausages, ham and cheese or top a pastry with Gruyere, goat cheese, or olives. This is one of the easiest ways to make small bite dishes that are beautifully presented and satisfying with little effort.
Soft and Hard Cheese Paired with Wine
Brie and Parmigiana are two versatile varieties that can be used for many recipes or as an appetizer on their own. Cheese types are abundant so pick what you like and sample new cheese selections as well.
Classic water crackers and frozen leftover baguette or Italian bread
Keep leftover bread in the freezer so when guests come by at any time, you are ready. Thaw and bake for 5 minutes at 250F. If you have an amazing bakery nearby, consider yourself lucky, and serve fresh bread on a moment's notice.
Nuts-Pecans, Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts, and Almonds.
Use them as an ingredient for recipes or add a touch of oil with a couple of your favorite herbs and spices, pop them in the oven for 10 minutes at 250F and now you have personalized spices nuts. They also look lovely displayed on your cheese board, and nothing is more welcoming that sitting and visiting with friends with small dishes of mixed nuts around the house to nosh on.
Jams, relishes, chutneys, and preserves
Keep an assortment on hand such as orange marmalade, black current, fig and raspberry jams to use for glazes, cheese accompaniments and to slather on toast.
A variety of olives are great to serve on their own or as part of an appetizer plate. They make a great compliment to the cheese and bread and nuts mentioned earlier. Don't be afraid to combine with cheese and the pasty dough mentioned earlier for an incredibly delicious appetizer.
Make extra portions when cooking and freeze for last minute dishes
When cooking, plan on making too much of something that freezes well. Frozen homemade meals can be pulled out for those unexpected surprises. This is especially helpful for weekend guests when you are busy entertaining and visiting with your guests.
Cured meats or sausages
You can make a quick meat and cheese board that will satisfy any guest, or wrap some sausages in puff pastry, bake, cut up into bite size pieces for a delicious hot appetizer.
Apple, pears, grapes and seasonal fruits are so pretty when combined with other foods.
Wine and beer
Keep at least two bottles of red and white wine on hand at all times. And if you and your friends are anything like us, then by all means stock more wine, and enjoy.
Liquor and mixers
Keep 1 or 2 types of liquor on hand such as vodka, gin, tequila, or rum to make a wide variety of cocktails. For mixers, tonic, seltzer, juices, simple sugar, and fresh limes or lemons provide a wonderful basis for making many refreshing concoctions.
Hack 2. Minimize Clutter to Stay Organized
You don’t have to do a full spring cleaning when you invite someone over, but minimizing clutter as a general rule, makes entertaining so much more effortless. If you can’t put things away in their rightful place, create areas where you can put it out of sight quickly.
An uncluttered space makes every day feel like a special occasion. You can relax and enjoy the peacefulness of your home when you are not preoccupied with mess and clutter. As a rule of thumb, try and routinely look around and pare down belongings to those items you cherish and/or need, and most importantly, actually fit into the space. Overfilling a home can be stressful to live in, and also visually overwhelming to visit as a guest.
Some people notice lovely décor and it’s a memory. If you can keep fresh cut flowers or a centerpiece of succulents on the table or around the house, it’s always a nice touch. A little decor goes a long way, and too much can start to feel like clutter. So be sure to select items that speak to you and are special.
Hack 4. You
Above all, people are there to spend time with you. If you are apologetic and stressed, it doesn’t make for a good gathering. Your guests will notice and remember it. On the flip side, they will remember the relaxed and happy you when you just effortlessly gather some things together and sit and enjoy the closeness.