Tag Archives: entertaining

4 Ways to Entertain With Ease

10 Jul

This quote is the key to entertaining. Memorize it.

I love to have people over.  The whole experience should be smooth, fun and lovely not only for your guests – but for you. Why? Because whether you are having friends over for dinner, your spouse’s colleagues around for a happy hour or a baby shower for 30 – the whole point of the event is meant to be… fun. You want your guests to be left with the feeling of inclusion, warmth, and happiness.

Good luck, I can hear some of you sigh with a harrumph. Entertaining freaks me out, some of you might say. Well, here are 4 things to remember:

1. START WITH WHAT YOU LIKE AND KNOW

It’s no secret that my husband likes cocktails. He likes planning out a signature drink for the evening, buying the ingredients, setting up a bar, getting the ice and serving our guests when they arrive. That’s just one of his things. He starts his dinner party prep there.

I like music and candles. I like creating playlists for the kind of mood I want to create. Maybe it’s a yoga night or we’re going up north or having drinks on the beach– I want to create a feeling with what people hear when they arrive and what they smell – that’s where I start.

Where do you start? Here are some examples to help you decide:

  • Cooking or baking
  • Cleaning and/or decorating
  • Paper and invites
  • Music
  • Place settings
  • Landscapes
  • Planning
  • Making cocktails

Figure out what you LOVE to do and start your planning there.

2. DON’T STRIVE FOR PERFECTION, NO ONE CARES AS MUCH AS YOU DO

Ina Garten said in one of her books something I’ll never forget.  She and Jeffery were young and broke but that didn’t stop her from having people over. She didn’t have the perfect napkins and matching place settings and her furniture was dated, but she confirmed that no one cares about stuff like that.

If you wait to have everything “perfect” you’ll let life pass you by.

Be driven by your guests need to feel welcome, not by your need to impress.

3. PLAN EVERY ASPECT IN ADVANCE + DON’T DO IT ALL

The more you plan, no matter how big or small the event, the easier it is to pull off an awesome party.  Take the time to think everything out – top to bottom – start to finish – write it all down, design a menu, make a grocery list.   I’ve designed an outline for you to use to help. 

Another tip is don’t feel like you have to do it all.  Have friends bring the drinks or food.  Get party platters for appetizers that are already made or just put out some nuts and cheese.  Check out some EPIC party platters here.  

4. YOU SET THE STAGE 

You can either be like this:

or like this:

I Love Lucy!

More reads on entertaining here, here and here.

5 ways to get ready for guests

29 Jul

are you a planner?  if not, hosting out-of-town guests would be daunting.  even though they may be low maintenance, it never changes how special i want the time to be.

so i thought i’d write out how i plan since i’ve had several friends ask me for advice.

first, start a pinterest board for your event.  even if it is just a dinner.  make it private if you don’t want people to see.  or not.  pinterest is hands down one of the best places to get recipes, decoration ideas and thoughts on entertaining – everything!

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second, having a game plan is key.  it’s funny how this spilled into my work as well.  i’ve seemed to become a stickler on timing and i’m like that at home too.  it’s not enough to have a couple recipes printed out and the ingredients.  ROF and i found that out the hard way when we made boeuf bourguignon with my sister.  we found out that the mushrooms had to marinate for like 8 hours and the beef had to cook for 4.  we ate at 2am in the morning (and after 3+ bottles of wine) – so timing is everything.

be crazy about it.  i keep my game plan in an app called evernote.  that way i can replicate it.

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I have a notebook called visitors itineraries, then inside it is the event like “christmas 2017” and then inside that i have folders for grocery list, menu/recipes and game plan.  the plan tells me exactly when to do something and that way i can plan ahead and make sure food gets hot to the table on time.  i am very literal – kind of like an idiot talking to herself…-

“take meat out of fridge at 3pm”

“put meat in marinade at 3:30pm, preheat oven 400”

“meat in oven at 4pm”

“cook at …..”  you get the picture.

third, do as much as humanly possible in advance.  make the salad dressing, trim the veggies, bake the cake – anything at all that can be done in advance – do it.  this is something my mentor (from a distance), the barefoot contessa, has said many times.  make it in advance.  in fact, her new cookbook is all about doing just that.  unless the cooking can be a fun group activity and you’ve got some casual, hang-around-the-house-time, limit what you’re doing while your guests are there.  of course, this depends on the guests you’re having.  if it’s family or close friends – have them join in and help – no biggie.  if it’s more formal, don’t be chopping the veggies while your guests feel helpless staring at you!

51hcOrWFjQL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_fourth, set up a bar away from the kitchen.  it’s where everyone congregates and if you’re trying to get food prepared, it can be challenging to work around everyone.  don’t feel as if you have to have a fancy bar.  anything can become a bar.    the more quirky, the more fun it is.

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get a big basket and fill it with basic booze, couple bottles of wine, already open, glasses an ice bucket and some lemon/lime wedges – there you go!

fifth –just work your plan.  when i have guests for a couple of days, just extend the itinerary and the plan.  i typically have a lot of fun with our guests…ha… and can forget that i’m supposed to make the breakfast casserole for tomorrow!

hope this helps!  please add any tips you have.

101 ways to get your house ready for guests – friends weigh in!

15 Nov

i love having house guests.  because it is just ROF and me (and ruby!) having our house abuzz with family and friends really gives me the feeling of home.  i love making our company comfortable whether it’s a home cooked meal, special conveniences or little surprises.

so i reached out to my friends to find out what they do to make the visit special.  i love these ideas!

have some of the guest’s favorite things on-hand; e.g., snack, coffee, liquor/beer. Female: fresh flowers, magazines, candle, comfy bedding, beautiful glass for bottled water, something silver in room Male: good breakfast food, James Patterson-type books, late night snacks, bottled water – marinell roe

i had my sister and her boyfriends initials monogrammed on hand towels. – megen decker

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get a collapsible suitcase holder at bed bath and beyond to get their suitcase to a place they can easily use it. put a small surprise on the bed. if kids are visiting get a little something about the city or candy treat.  if they are coming to see your city print an agenda like u and britt did when we came to chicago.aunt sally nilsen

for me, the thing that makes having house guests easy is organization in advance.  whether it is room prep, meals or activities, if you plan ahead, make an itinerary, buy and prep in advance, you can enjoy your guests and feel less stressed.  – susan prendeville

i like to put a goodie bath basket on their bed or in the bathroom. something luxurious, soap/body wash, loofa, plush washcloth and candle maybe to help them feel at home and little gifts they can take home with them.- katie ballard

hotel toiletries.0

since the guest room also doubles as storage when there are no guests, i typically organize the guest room closet and find extra non-wire hangers to put in there.  – meredith conte

i frame my wireless network and wifi password and put it on the bedside table.  Like what they would see in a boutique hotel.

wifipasswordsample

i always buy fruit, juice, banana bread or croissants and set up coffee and tea so they have a little continental breakfast waiting for them in the kitchen. people wake up at different times so even if I go back to bed, it’s there waiting for them and they don’t have to feel weird searching through the pantry.  I like doing this even if we have brunch plans because like I said…sometimes people wake up really early and i’m always hungry as soon as I wake up.

i always buy chocolate and set it out in candy dishes.  People like to munch and snack and it’s nice being able to grab a few pretzel M&M’s on your way to bed!

i let them sleep with riley, if they are really good friends… he’s a snuggle bug. – jackie grubb

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i love to cook for guests and a few special items I will pull out like chicken enchiladas or a lasagna that’s made with pepperoni (yum!) we also love to make a brunch for the first morning complete with mimosas. my go-to brunch casserole is pioneer woman’s sleepin’ in breakfast casserole.

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when we go out, we try to look for unique spots that the guests might not have at home. i love to try new restaurants and want to share that experience with others. – jennifer anderson

i love to leave a small vase of fresh flowers, nothing fancy (I can usually run outside and find something pretty in bloom) by the bedside.  ordering out from a local pizza place that first night makes things casual and easy and gives people time to relax. – lindy stagnaro

have a box of matches or a nice room spray in the bathroom and other accoutrements like nice simple soap in the shower and q-tips on the counter. set up a power outlet by the bed for phones and ipads to charge – sarah beth prendeville

i also asked my friends what games they like to play with guests and i heard about these several times:

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dani crowder’s friends and guests have a blast playing this game and we have had great success learning from jamie hare’s family playing this game

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but the most creative, interesting and fun suggestion came from christine warren.  her husband likes to whip up molecular gastronomy creations (invitation, please!) and she suggested purchasing this fun thing to do with guests!

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i have also gone to the local unique chocolatier and bought a sample box of chocolate and had guests guess what is in the chocolate (whiskey, bacon etc…)

lastly, here are some of my tips:

  • give people “jobs” to do.  everyone asks what they can do to help and typically they really do want to help – so delegate roles such as setting the table, writing out place cards, helping keep people’s drinks filled and clearing the table make people feel helpful and play a part
  • have the coffee pot ready to go – just press a button and hot coffee is on the way so your guests don’t have to wait if they wake up early
  •  plan for some down time.  time for people to do their own thing – take a walk (have an extra house key made), read or just hang out and not feel like they have to be “on” the whole time
  • plunger in the bathroom.  no one wants to ask for one and if you have a finicky toilet like we do – just keep one under the sink
  • give guests permission to help themselves to snacks at any time.  drinks in the garage fridge and chips and nuts in the pantry  – help yourself!  i love trader joes salt and pepper pistachios

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  • in the winter, keep comfy socks in guest room drawer and extra blankets by the bed.  sleep in your guest room so you can experience what they will

thank you to all my fun friends who contributed to this!  i can’t wait to have a house full of family this thanksgiving and they are sure to be the recipients of your great ideas.

5 lovely links (you’ll love!): entertaining

29 Aug

no one likes to entertain more than me. 

maybe martha stewart.  i guess you could say that ROF and i like to do that more than anything.  there is nothing we like better than having good friends, good food & wine and of course, music.  almost every weekend we have people over if not all three nights!  we love to plan, shop, bake, cook and i love to put together playlists and table settings that are just perfect.  or close.  be sure to check out my montage below.

here are some fantastic entertaining links for today’s regular feature “5 lovely links”:

1. hit up ‘smitten kitchen’ for some party food:  click here

2. the ‘hostess with the mostess” blog has some awesome theme party ideas.  make sure you scroll to the bottom.  i love the “scotch & chocolate 40th birthday party” check these out (and there are a million ideas – great kid ideas too!)

from hostess with the mostess blog

4. everyone knows, the best place to get party decorations (of the cool kind) is on luna bazaar online

5 lastly, but not leastly…music.  look here!  food & wine magazine found the pros behind awesome vibe restaurant music  and check out all the playlists!  so excited i found this

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