So often, when we think we have everything together, life throws us a curveball. An unexpected illness, a change of employment, a new home or even a new baby and, abruptly, everything changes. When you’ve been out of the entertaining loop for any amount of time, the thought of hosting a meal again can be overwhelming. Whether we admit it or not, how many of us tend to over-complicate things, putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves? Instead, let’s get back to what really matters with some easy hospitality ideas from entrées to afters that will enable you to focus on your friends and family.
When planning what to feed your visitors, use dependable favourites for the base of your menu and build from there. That way, the spotlight can shine on the star player, rather than every platter parading something remarkable. If you have put extra effort into an eye-catching dessert or mouth-watering side, don’t upstage them with other dishes.
Limit your appetisers to a selection of no-cook treats such as antipasto, which can significantly reduce the tension before mealtime. Just be sure to pre-plan and make certain you have all the ingredients on hand, so you aren’t left floundering at the back of the fridge for a jar of olives you know doesn’t exist while guests are coming in the front door.
Preparing ahead as much as possible is another great way to have more time for chatter when your company arrives. Although fresh is definitely best in some instances, many sauces can be made beforehand as well as vegetables sliced, and even desserts can be partly preassembled a few hours in advance.
Food aside, table decorations seem to play a big part when setting the stage for your event, and we acknowledge that a well-dressed table can put the finishing touch on your lunch or dinner meal. Our advice – keep it simple and use what is to hand. Celebrate the season with flowers or greenery from your own garden, or just place a sprig of herbs with each name card for a rustic look. If you prefer something less outdoorsy, invest in one or two timeless centrepieces and add different smaller pieces every so often to keep the design fresh.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. An extra pair of hands in the kitchen or bar can sometimes make all the difference, and you never know – you might even pick up a new idea or two!
Getting back into the entertaining rhythm can be rewarding and enjoyable. By simplifying your selections, you can reduce stress and enjoy the camaraderie of family and friends. The best approach? Relax, laugh a little, and make sure a good time is on the menu.