FEATURE: Top 5 Entertaining Tips and Tricks <br> By Kate Haaf of The Everyday Hostess | Celebration Stylist | Popular Party Planning Blog

FEATURE: Top 5 Entertaining Tips and Tricks
By Kate Haaf of The Everyday Hostess

I'm excited to share these Entertaining Tips and Tricks with you from the lovely, talented Kate Haaf of The Everyday Hostess


From a casual tailgate party to a swanky New Year’s Eve soiree, we love putting our personal touch on any event! At the same time, no party discriminates – they can all lead to some serious stress!

And since we probably shouldn’t legally recommend always having a spare bottle of wine at the ready (but like, you should), we’re here with five entertaining and party planning tips and hacks that will make your hosting life easier! The key in my book: Prepare, prepare, prepare...

Let’s get to it!


How to Host a Stress Free Dinner Party

1. Start A Few Weeks Out

You can never give yourself too much time to prepare for a party! I prefer to front load all of my preparation in the weeks leading up to the event so that I can enjoy the day of! No matter what, something will pop up day-of that you weren't expecting (you ran out of ice or one of your ingredients went stale and you need to go back to the store) and the last thing you want to do is have to deal with that plus something else (like trying to select the best floral for your centerpiece) that could have been handled earlier in the preparation process.

The best types of parties are when the hosts are relaxing and enjoying time with their guests, so prepare in advance to help reduce any last-minute stresses!

2. Set up the Night Before

This is my number one party trick and key to success! I always set up as much as I can the night before as if it’s the actual party. So what does this exactly mean?

Set the Table - If you’re hosting a sit down dinner, fully set the table as if someone will be arriving any minute (less the food and drinks, of course). I always have a vision in mind for the tablescape and then find ways to tweak it once I’m actually putting it together. Setting up the night before allows me some extra time to make these small little improvements as I see it coming together.

Set up Platters - Pull out your platters and serving pieces in advance and label them with sticky notes with what will be served on them. Then if you realize you need one more, this gives you more time to find one to borrow or buy. Also, this helps me to ensure that I don’t forget to serve anything on the day of the party! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had numerous appetizers to serve and then just forget one of them on the day-of. Having platters ready with labels helps to remedy this!

Prep the Meal - Most menu items can’t be made the night before, but they sure can be prepared in advance! For example, if I’m making a chili, I will cut all of the veggies in advance and store them in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. The same goes for any dry ingredients. Then all I need to do the next day is mix them together and cook! Gone are the times of hours of chopping on the day of a party.

On the day of the party, make sure you give yourself enough time to complete any final tasks, like doing a final house cleaning or last-minute food and drink preparation. In my opinion, I’d rather start earlier in the day and have an extra hour of free time to finish getting ready or enjoy a glass of wine in the quiet rather than working up until the minute your first guest arrives.

 

3. It’s all About the Details!

The devil is in the details... and by “the devil,” of course I mean wowing your guests when they walk through your front door or sit down for dinner!

Look, I love channeling my inner Gatsby at a lavish party as much as the next girl, but for one reason or another that kind of grandeur isn’t always realistic. I’ve found that you can make just as much of an impression on partygoers with a shrewd attention to detail as you can by writing a huge check for your event.

From colorful straws to personalized napkins, or coordinated centerpieces and place settings, there are myriad ways to show your attendees that you’ve poured love and care into your party. Some of my favorite detail hacks that go a long way:

Place cards - I love to incorporate personalization anywhere I possibly can and this usually starts with cute place cards for each guest.

Printables - Printables are an adorable and very budget-friendly way to add some customization to your party. Whether it’s a cute print for your cocktail bar or labels for each buffet item that corresponds with your party theme, these are the perfect way to add an extra tailored touch to your party.
 
Straws and Napkins - These may seem like a small detail, but when your paper straw or napkins perfectly correspond with your party theme, people notice.


4. The Menu

Since he’s probably reading this, I’ll go ahead and say my husband is a GREAT bartender and budding mixologist ;) But I don’t want him to miss the mixing and mingling at our parties and then blame it on the a, a-a-a, a-al-cohol – even if Jamie Foxx says it’s OK.

So, I like to simplify the drink menu. I always recommend serving beer, wine, and then a signature cocktail that correlates with the party theme. Be sure to choose some crowd-pleasers, especially if you’re getting adventurous with your cocktail – but a signature drink is a great way to make a statement and also allow you (and your husband) to interact with your party guests!

Unless you’re having the party catered, I like to have as many menu items as fresh and homemade as possible; however, a multi-course meal can be difficult to plan and coordinate. Therefore, I like to have a signature and gourmet dish, a couple sides that are delicious but not too time-consuming, and then I’ll add a few premade options that I have tweaked to look homemade. For example, I’ll serve a cedar plank salmon with goat cheese mashed potatoes and a caesar salad. All will look homemade, but in reality, I’ll use a bagged caesar salad and then make homemade parmesan crisps to add to the top to make it look like I worked on this salad all day long!

5. Clean Up

Make sure your dishwasher is empty before people arrive. That will make the clean up and end-of-night tear down way easier on you and much fewer dishes will be staring at you from the sink in the morning. Also, try to avoid cleaning while guests are there! Sit back and enjoy and take in every minute with your friends and family. There will be no guest guilt associated with not helping and they will be able to fully enjoy as well!

Want all kinds of party inspiration in your feeds? Follow The Everyday Hostess on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Happy hosting!

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