We are in the thick of the entertaining part of the year, and it always coincides when we are at our busiest, doesn’t it?
Somehow we have to juggle work commitments, end of year functions, gift shopping, housework and event planning, and maintain our own energy and enthusiasm at the same time.
For me, the answer is a little pre-planning, particularly when it comes to the menu for our family get togethers.
I always start with a loose theme – whether it is a cuisine, or style of food, sit down dinner party or buffet – then plan it three groups:
1. Starters – this could be a full sit down entrée, passarounds to serve with drinks or a grazing board to pick on as we stand around the kitchen bench.
2. The Main Event – this is usually a main meat dish, but not always (it could be a vegetarian moussaka or a pasta roulade, for example) but it is always the substantial part of the meal. A roast, a bbq, even individual spatchcocks or quail are great option.
3. Afters – choose a dessert you can make ahead, a gorgeous fruit platter, some good cheese or maybe some home made biscuits or a slice to serve with coffee.
Then compile your LISTS!
1. Guest List – who is coming! Are they bringing something?
2. Menu List – write this out and stick it on the fridge so you don’t forget to serve anything!
3. Shopping List – put this together when you are fully concentrating so you don’t forget anything. What do you need to order in advance?
4. Pre-prep List – what can you make ahead and how long in advance to make things smoother for yourself?
5. Order of Work List – work out what order you will cook and serve things.
Now, what can you do well in advance?
1. Clean the house
2. Pull out all the pantry ingredients you need, measure them out and put them on a tray.
3. Set the table the day before
4. Buy flowers ahead so they are open
5. Refrigerate the drinks
6. Plan your drink selection too – including a welcome drink
7. Don’t forget the ice!
8. Work out what you are going to wear!!
And don’t be shy to take up an offer for help or ask someone to make something that fits with your menu theme…you don’t have to do it ALL yourself!
Most importantly, enjoy yourself and don’t worry if things are not practically perfect…a happy host is the best host!