Easy entertaining starts with preparation. Keeping yourself organized during a party means that you can enjoy it, too. From wine for a party to giving everyone space to mingle, you can make your gatherings go down much more smoothly by keeping a few tips in mind:
1. Edible Centerpieces
Some people arrive early. Others arrive late. The ones who are early may have not eaten. If you’re not ready to serve for those first few, make sure you have some edible centerpieces that feature fruits, vegetables, breads, and cheeses.
2. Label Foods
Many guests will have a hard time telling what certain dishes or toppings are. Others may have allergies. Labeling saves you from having to answer the same question a dozen times.
3. Ask About Allergies Ahead of Time
Knowing your guests’ allergies can go a long way. They won’t consider it rude; you’re being considerate of their needs. This is easier with a smaller party where you can manage the occasional allergy.
4. Cook for a Party, Not a Dinner
Will guests be up and about instead of all sitting at the table? If you’re not serving a meal, then don’t cook a meal. Instead of a whole turkey, roast several turkey breasts. You can bring out each and slice them as needed. Do this with all your dishes, using chafing dishes and hotplates. This saves you from a whole meal going cool and tepid over several hours.
5. Open the Space Up
If most of the chairs are in one place, spread them around the home. This makes the space feel more expansive, since people can spread out and mingle in a wider range of areas.
6. Remember Accessibility
If you’ve got elderly relatives or a friend with a disability coming, remember to accommodate their needs with the design of your party. If everything’s taking place on the second floor, and one relative can’t take the stairs up, they may feel like a burden or as if they’re left out. Design the party so everyone can enjoy each others’ company.
7. Simplify Choices
Wine for a party is crucial, but having several bottles open at once gets confusing and leaves you with a lot of random wines to finish off. Choose a red wine, a white wine, and a bubbly that complement what’s being served.
If you have a bar station, have few recipes for fun holiday cocktails handy. This encourages people try new drinks and make something more complex than they’d attempt without some guidance.
9. Party Favors
Try spice mixes, teas, or single-serve packages of coffees or cocoas. Inevitably, most will at least try these and make use of them.
10. Don’t Forget the Kids!
You can’t fulfill host duties for adults and children, let alone have the energy to enjoy your own party. Delegate to someone responsible who can keep the kids entertained. This might be a parent or an older child who you know is up for the task (giving them a little cash wouldn’t hurt either!).