Properly hosting a formal dinner party, or even just entertaining an intimate gathering of friends, requires a modicum of forethought and a good deal of preparation. If you hope to provide an enjoyable evening for guests while remaining stress-free, Julia is happy to share her top 10 tips that will ensure fun is had by all…including you!
1. DEVISE A DELICIOUS MENU
For a formal affair, large cuts of meat – an entire beef roast, turkey or ham – are best as the main course as they will all need time to “rest” after being cooked. This will allow the host to finish the remainder of the meal and serve all the dishes at one time – a decidedly less stressful situation than trying to sear 24 pork chops for twelve guests while also cooking the sides. For more informal affairs, consider dishes like pasta or braised beef that actually gets better over time. Then, everyone can serve themselves at their leisure.
2. BUILD A BEAUTIFUL BUFFET
As guests gather, the ability to flit around the room from one person to the next, socializing and spending time with each other, allows a buffet to be the perfect backdrop to a perfect social soiree. This also allows guests to drop into the party or slip away without the guilt of breaking etiquette.
3. DESIGN YOUR SPECIALITY COCKTAIL
It’s far easier, and much chicer, to create and pre-make a specialty cocktail that helps define and enhance your evening. This eliminates the problematic procurement (and expense) of providing every kind of liquor and mixer, to cover every kind of cocktail. And individually mixing every kind of cocktail for every kind of guest! A “specialty cocktail” can be pre-batched, chilled, ready to go at the start of the evening and easily replenished throughout the night, ensuring everyone is having a seamless experience. Another fun idea is to put out several cocktail shakers, a couple of spirits, cocktail condiments and then let the guest shake and make their own.
4. SIMPLE IS SEXY!
The serving aspect of hosting is as much science as it is, an art form. Unfortunately, many hosts concentrate on the latter while ignoring the former. They will spend an exuberant amount of time focusing on the décor, which will be looked at once and quickly fade into the background. Instead of directing their time on how they are going to style the focal point, the placement of the food. Energy put into the layout of the food and drink and the efficiency of placement partnered with stunning serveware such as platters, bowls, drink trays and punch bowls from the Julia Knight Collection will leave your guests with a memorable experience sure to delight.
5. MAKE A LIST FOR FOOD AND GUESTS
Plan out your menu and timing in advance. It will make grocery shopping and timing much more streamlined. Simply put, as the host, you will want to prepare as much of the food and drink as possible before any of the guests even arrive. This will not only help to identify any oversights in the party preparation, but allow you time to adapt and adjust, limiting the number of last-minute snafus that might come up. And mix it up with your guests. Don’t overthink the chemistry. If you love your guests, they will all enjoy each other.
6. STAGE YOUR MATERIALS
As mentioned above, do what you can ahead of time. Even still, there will be many tasks that cannot be accomplished until pre-party or when the party is in full swing. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation if the right serving utensils and the appropriate ingredients are placed where they are readily available. Not having to search for that special centerpiece bowl at the last minute is truly a stress reliever.
7. LET YOUR GROCER DO THE HEAVY LIFTING
There are a remarkable number of high-end grocers who produce truly fantastic dishes that simply need to be brought home and unwrapped at the last minute. And the “hostess with the mostess” knows that even a low-effort, catered meal from your favorite go-to restaurant (or grocer) can be presented as a lavish, luscious meal on the right luxurious serveware. Just between us hosts…shhh…no one needs to know!
8. TESTED AND TIMELESS
Unless it is your turn to host the weekly meeting of the gourmand club, a party is not the time to experiment. Instead, double down on a recipe that you have truly mastered. And make it a double batch! This serves a duo purpose...you can replenish the dish throughout the party and send guests home with a doggie bag. It’s the perfect tasty reminder the next day, of a lovely evening from the night before.
9. ASSEMBLE YOUR GUEST LIST
Good conversation is integral to any successful dinner party. Look for guests who share the same interests. One guest may admire items that have been handcrafted and painted by artisans. Another may love music and the ballet. Consider pairing people who have never met before or those who are known to be old friends. Think about pairing singles together so they may discover what they have in common.
10. ENJOY YOURSELF
Nothing makes guest happier or feel more at home than seeing their host enjoy themselves.
To enhance your next family affair, present the perfect party or style your next soiree, make sure to shop the Julia Knight Collection of luxury serveware, barware, and home décor online at JuliaKnightCollection.com or contact us directly via chat, phone, or email. Don’t miss your opportunity to become the hostess with the mostess!