By Richard L. Nix, Jr.
Does entertaining for large or even small groups seem daunting? If the thought of inviting the neighbors, your boss, or even your in-laws over for dinner sends you into a state of panic, then please read on. No, this is not another shameless plug for a reason to hire a caterer, but a sincere offering on how to organize a dinner party for ten or more without losing control.
Rule #1 of avoiding a daunting dinner is that the host must be able to enjoy themselves. A great way to achieve this goal is to choose a menu, or even a theme, that will be fun and easy to orchestrate. Strapping yourself down with complex recipes collected from the internet or a theme that takes hours of research is a sure fire recipe for disaster. As the old saying goes, “stick to what you know” or more importantly “know your limitations”. Don’t be confused, I am not suggesting that you throw a party to highlight your great aunt’s “chicken surprise,” but merely that creativity should be tested before premiering it at your dinner party.
Rule #2 of avoiding a daunting dinner is to make things easy by outsourcing the things that are not your strengths. For instance, if baking is not a skill you possess, order something delicious from the neighborhood bakery. Chances are it will be far more rewarding and less expensive than anything you will attempt to make at home. This theory should also apply to service; by hiring someone to assist you with the details. You cannot be the life of the party while chained to the stove. It will certainly be money well spent, especially when you wake up the next morning to a spotless home.
Rule #3 is easy; plan your work and work your plan. Never assume that you can whip up a spirited dinner for ten or more by starting to plan the morning of the party. Begin as far ahead of time as possible by detailing how your home will look, how the dinner will be served, what cocktails will be offered, and think about the selection of music that will accompany the festivities. The menu must also be included in your planning. Every successful chef begins preparation for a great dinner days before the actual event. Preparation includes shopping for the ingredients, preparing sauces, marinating meats and even freezing various items. Remember, the more you are able to complete ahead of time the more you will enjoy entertaining.
Hosting a party in your home does not have to be a daunting experience. A realistic evaluation of resources and skills along with preparation and your own unique style will reward you and your guests with a night to remember. Of course, when all else fails feel free to call The Butler’s Pantry at 314-664-7680.