We are heading into the work week feeling so, so happy after an amazing weekend celebrating our new home with friends. We threw a party Saturday and had an absolute blast! At one point there were so many people here I could barely make my way into the kitchen. And we somehow ended up with more wine and beer than we started with, thanks to everyone’s generosity. I guess that means we have to throw another party soon?
I love hosting friends and look for just about any excuse to throw a party. That means we’ve hosted quite a few over the years — and I’d like to think we have it down to a science. That hasn’t always been the case. When you’re trying to juggle food, drink and entertainment for a crowd, a lot can go wrong. So I’m sharing a few tips for how to host an impressive party without all of the stress.
1. Keep it simple.
When it comes to planning a menu for a party, don’t be overly ambitious. Homemade meatballs are great for a date night at home, but no one will know you used the frozen version when you smother them in a delicious sauce and throw them on a Hawaiian roll. You can keep your menu sophisticated without having to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen. Take shortcuts if they won’t compromise the deliciousness of a dish and don’t be afraid to serve some semi-homemade or store-bought foods. Nancy’s quiche and deli spirals are staples at many of our parties because they’re absolutely delicious and effortless to prepare. I also almost always serve two-ingredient creamy salsa dip, sangria and ranch house cheese spread because they’re crowd pleasers that take hardly any time to put together.
2. Prep the day before.
I don’t know how I hosted parties before I started embracing this tip. It makes life so much easier. No one wants to spend the entirety of their own kickass party in the kitchen, so prepare as much as you can the night before. I actually plan my menu around what types of foods can be prepared ahead of time so all I have to do the day of the party is pop a couple things in the oven and put out some plates. Crockpot recipes, chilled salads and baked dips are always popular among guests and easy on the hosts.
3. Be clear about what’s expected of guests — and vice versa.
If people ask what they can bring to the party, be truthful. If you’re counting on guests to help stock the bar or feed the crowd, be clear about those expectations from the beginning. And let people know when they’re invited whether it’s OK for them to bring their significant others, kids or friends. This will help ensure there’s enough food and drink for everyone and will ensure you avoid the awkwardness of unexpected guests. You should also be sure to let guests know whether you’ll be serving a full meal, light appetizers, or just drinks. That way they’ll know whether to come hungry or eat before the event.
4. Have some entertainment planned.
Most of the time our parties just involve everyone catching up, enjoying some good food and beers and a whole lot of laughing. But, we always have some entertainment planned just in case we need to help people break the ice. It can be something as simple as having card games handy or a makeshift photo booth setup.
5. Have fun!
This is the whole point of having a party, after all. While it can be easy to get caught up in all the duties of hosting, it’s important to spend lots of time mingling with guests and partaking in the festivities. If you don’t, your guests will feel awkward and you won’t want to throw another shindig anytime soon. Have a blast!