Being a hostess can be hard work. Between the planning, shopping, and chopping – the one person that often gets squeezed is you. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve looked down at that pile of kitchen mess with crazy hair and sweat pants feeling stressed out because there were about five minutes left until the doorbell rang! Sound familiar? But I’m here to tell you, there’s another way. A way that helps you pull off a party like a domestic goddess without slaving in the kitchen all day (and allows you to show up ready to your own party).
Here are my secrets for hosting a gorgeous and uncomplicated party any time of the year:
1. Plan a Smart Menu
Plan your menu around your life; don’t plan your life around your menu. Think of how much time you have and what ingredients are accessible in your pantry. Grocery shop and make sure you balance more time-consuming main dishes with easier things, like salads and sides.
2. Cook and Freeze Things Ahead of Time
Consider making your dessert in advance and freezing it. You can also make salad dressings a few days before the big day, and chop your veggies the day before! Sweet potato dishes and casseroles freeze nicely – get creative with doing as much as you can as early as you can.
3. Set Your Table the Night Before
Set your table at night when you have downtime. Lay out serving dishes for each dish and if you’re planning a big feast, label each bowl with what’s going in it (in case you’re like me and you forget things)! If you’re serving buffet style, arrange your table early with any decorations or food labels you might be using.
4. Get to a Yoga Class
Yoga doesn’t just make you mindful in the moment, it also makes you mindful about everything in your life (including what you eat). Get to a yoga class or pop on a yogaglo online yoga workout the day of your party. After I practice, I notice an attention to detail that is more refined. Plus, I’m less likely to snack mindlessly in the kitchen. While you absolutely must taste your food before serving it to guests, the calories in those just a bite mouthfuls add up. That’s why I wrote an entire article on avoiding the pitfalls of pre-meal snacking!
5. Make Your Home a Sanctuary
Create a playlist of mood appropriate songs in advance, light candles, set out flowers, and get your house ready to greet your guests. If you don’t entertain a lot it can be daunting to have friends in our personal space. Get over it, though, because people are just happy to come over for a home cooked meal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to feel special!
6. Plan Your Seating
I always find it stressful when I have a full house and haven’t thought about where everyone is going to sit – it can sometimes get awkward. Get creative with place cards for each guest. Personalizing their seat makes them feel welcome and at ease. Check out my Pinterest board for some placard and table setting ideas.
8. Pour Yourself a Glass of Wine
Cooking is way more fun with music and wine. Pour yourself a glass (and whoever you’ve enlisted to help you in the kitchen). Or, if you plan well, take your glass over to the tub and soak in bubbles before your feast. You’ll arrive as a mellowed out happy hostess!
9. If all Else Fails – Fake it
Just because you host the party doesn’t mean you need to make everything from scratch. Oh yeah, you heard me. Doctor up some store-bought goodies like guacamole, hummus, or other spreads and dips. Boil up some frozen edamame. Buy the bread. You can even order some pre-made foods from a local restaurant or caterer and plate them up with style. Mix and match bought things with a few homemade ones, and if you pour your guests a glass or two of champagne before they eat, your guests may never even notice!