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When entertaining for any crowd, large or small, I try and get as much done as possible before my guests arrive. The less I have to do when my guests are here, the more smoothly my day or evening goes, and the better time I have!
Of course, there are always things that I need to do last minute, but the less of them there are, the more successful my event is.
Here are some of the things I have learned to always do to ensure a great time and fantastic meal!
- I love to pick a theme and build the menu, cocktails and decor around it. I love hosting Italian Night where I play Italian music, serve classic chicken parmesan and garlic bread on a red check table cloth and pair it with a delicious Barolo or Chianti.
- I plan a menu that can be mostly prepped or prepared ahead of time and I choose things that can cooked at the same temperature. That last part is every important!
- I platter anything that will be served cold or room temperature into serving bowls or serving dishes ahead of time. These are things like cheese platters, condiments that will be served in bowls, shrimp cocktail, and so on. I store everything right on or in the platter. This reduces clean up, and makes it easy to serve.
- I always make sure to have an empty sink and dishwasher before anyone arrives. This will make clean up throughout the event go more swiftly.
- I always make sure to have empty trash and recycling bins before the start of my event.
- I set the table or buffet well in advance. Usually do this at least one day ahead of time, but for larger events, I have done it 3-4 days in advance to help me visualize how the event will go and what is missing.
- For parties and events that I know are coming up, I shop for all dry goods and beverages weeks in advance. This is especially helpful during the holiday season when stores are full and we are all always in a rush. It just makes shopping for the fresh ingredients more enjoyable.
- I start making ice about one week in advance and bag it in zip locks to be sure we have enough for cocktails.
My number one rule for hosting anything from a date night for two to a party of epic proportions, is to always make sure music is playing when someone steps through the door! Music is the best way to set the tone for your event and immediately helps people feel comfortable and at ease.