Being the Hostess with the Mostess

It’s no secret that Kevin and I enjoy entertaining.  We do it regularly, though it’s usually just one or two other couples.  We actually had people over this past Friday to celebrate Kevin’s birthday.

pieThe banana pudding cheesecake I made for Kevin’s birthday

Let me get this straight.  I’m no Martha Stewart. 

cheesecakeGet in my belly!

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I can’t be taught. I’ve learned a thing or two, and I wanted to share my beginner tips with you.

1. Cook what you know.  My grandmother, a fabulous hostess, told me you don’t have to be able to cook everything in the book.  Just practice a few house specials and learn to do them well.

lasagnaI try new things on friends who visited multiple times, but I stick to an old standbys on first visits, such as this lasagna that I cooked up this past weekend.

2. Do as much as you can before guests arrive.  I generally stick to baked dishes or crock pot meals when I’m having company.  I once made a roast, which I thought would be a good idea, but the side dishes were too labor intensive when I had people in my kitchen.

I don’t want to ignore my guests while I’m cooking.  It can make them feel awkward, and it’s downright boring for them.  Baked or crock pot dishes make the house smell pleasant while I visit with everyone.  It’s a win-win.

3.  Care for a drink?  If you’re serving drinks, have your special cocktail already mixed, or have your wine decanting with wine glasses sitting out.  Having a drink ready can make guests feel welcome.  Of course, it’s also fine to do BYOB; people often feel better if they can bring something.

wine4. It’s never just drinks.  What I mean is, if you’re having a wine tasting or cocktail party instead of a dinner party, it’s good to let people get a little something on their stomachs.  If you’ve got the time and money to whip up some fun appetizers, go for it.  However, even just some chips can make someone’s night go a bit more… ummm… smoothly.

5. Relax!  Have a plan and perhaps an expected schedule, but don’t worry if you don’t stick to it.  Your guests won’t know if you forgot to add a spice, if you’re running 10 minutes behind schedule, or something of the like.  Just enjoy your time with friends!

I hope this was helpful.  I’d love to hear your entertaining tips too if you’ve got any.  Like I said, I’m a newbie myself!  I wish I had better entertaining pictures for this post, but I’m usually too busy chatting to be snapping away with my camera.

  • Are you a fan of hosting?  Got any tips for me?

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25 Responses to Being the Hostess with the Mostess

  1. This is the perfect entertaining 101 post. I end up hosting wine tastings most, because snacks- crackers, cheese, olives and a charcuterie plate- i can handle. after that it reaches a level of hostessing I have failed to master quite yet. (ps that banana cheesecake looks GOOD!)

  2. I absolutely love the idea of entertaining, but actually doing it is a whole other story. I’ve only hosted a few get togethers, and while they were a lot of fun, they were also super stressful. That might be because I’m a big noobie and have no idea what I’m doing though, so I’m definitely loving these tips. Relaxing a little would probably help me out a lot…

  3. Great tips! I love entertaining!

  4. I’m so excited to actually have an apartment where we can host people! It’s something I’m going to want to do at least once in a while after we move. I love the slow cooker tip, mine has easily become my favourite cooking appliance.

  5. I absolutely agree with getting as much finished before guests arrive as possible. I’m too much of a social butterfly to be worrying about food prep and such after people begin arriving.

  6. I love hosting! I agree-its not worth it to get all stressed out! I hosted Thanksgiving for my first time last year for my boyfriends family and needless to say, I was a stress-mess just thinking about it. But I learned the following: 1. practice practice practice. i made the entire meal a few weeks earlier to test it all out and coordinate the time 2. when people ask what to bring, stick to a theme…for example, i will tell guests to bring an appetizer if they would like-that way illl take care of all the dinner and they will take care of appetizers
    3. coordinate times/dishes/serving ware in advance! i set out my serving dishes so i know what is going in each one in advance, just to make sure i have what i need for everything. 4. write down what time it all has to go in the oven/on the stove and for how long. it made it easier for everything to be done all at once.

    fun post! i think i am going to write a thanksgivng post when it comes time for it!

  7. I love hosting parties and get togethers! I have definitely had some recipe fails when trying out a new one before a party. Learned my lesson for sure! I also make sure to set out all my serving platters, plates, napkins, and drink ware before hand to make sure I’m all set to go. For big parties we typically set up tables etc. The night before or early that morning to get that out of the way as well. I love setting up a drink table/bar with different options for guests. I’ll often put out alcohol, mixers and drink recipes for guests to try out without me having to make all the drinks. It’s a fun way to give options but not have to be bartender all night :-)

    • Tiff says:

      Great tips! I also like to set out all the serving plates and such ahead of time, especially on Thanksgiving when it seems every.single.piece gets used.

  8. Lisa says:

    Awesome tips! I do love the idea of hostessing, but sometimes I can get a bit overwhelmed since I’m such a perfectionist I feel like I “have to” have everything perfect looking. Um, not going to happen haha.
    However, I do love hostessing parties regardless because it’s always so much fun!

  9. These are great tips. Since we just moved into a new house, I’m looking forward to entertaining now that we have more space. One of my favorite nights is always a wine and cheese night. Everyone brings a bottle and the host gets a variety of cheeses/apps.

  10. I don’t mind hosting, I just don’t do it often I suppose. I think I will more now so that we have our house and starting to really spend more time with our families while wedding planning. I think the biggest thing for me is always make sure there are snacks or food available… I love food and I usually just assume people are always going to be content if there is more food than less. LOL

    • Tiff says:

      I tease the hubby about getting married again so that we could register for fun hosting stuff we never thought we’d need back when we were newly engaged. haha Enjoy the new house and any new stuff you get to put in it. :)

  11. These are fabulous tips! I agree–cook what you know is HUGE!

  12. Two of my very favorite desserts…. cheesecake and banana pudding!!!!!!!!! I’m heading over to check out that recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tiff says:

      I don’t know that I’d make it again, but it was still very good! Other reviews of the recipe said there wasn’t enough banana flavor. Mine had plenty of banana flavor, but I used slightly browned/freckled bananas. Perhaps that’s the trick!

  13. I LOVE hosting, although we haven’t done it much since moving to Colorado. We need too make more time for it again! I rarely follow the rule about not cooking something new for guests, I like to live on the edge that way. :)

  14. I actually hate hosting! So much pressure.

  15. These are great tips! I love having friends over for dinner. As a grad student most of my friends and I are all on tight budgets so luckily I don’t feel too much pressure as if it’s edible it will be eaten.

    • Tiff says:

      That always helps! I hosted a wine tasting in college, and those little munchies I set out didn’t last too long!

  16. These are some great tips! My husband and I love hosting parties at our house! One of the biggest things for me is preparing things ahead of time. I try to make dishes that I prepare the night before, so the day of I’m not running around like a crazy person trying to get things done.

  17. Love this post! You are so right… and it’s taken me years to learn and adopt these tips.

  18. I completely agree with not trying to tackle too much to take care of things food-wise. Some of my favorite get togethers were at restaurants or where all of the food was pre-bought. Not ideal or healthy in the slightest, but not having to worry about food prep let everyone just focus on the company and conversation.

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