Easy Entertaining for Everyone

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The idea of a dinner party: fantastic. The reality of the stress and work: panic!

I think we’ve all experienced barely having enough time to jump in the shower before guests arrive because the details took so much longer than anticipated. Let this happen no more! This checklist will help you get party-ready in no time.

Week Before

1. Write out a menu for both food and drinks.

2. Decide if it’s a themed party or a simple gathering of friends.

3. Determine where you will be hosting the party: Dining room, eat-in kitchen or outside?

4. Think through the details: Do you have enough chairs, plates, glasses and serving utensils?

3 Days Before

1. Create a food, drink and supply shopping list. Don’t forget candles and cocktail napkins!

2. Plot out exactly where you will serve welcoming drinks and appetizers.

3. Polish up any silverware and make sure glasses are sparkling clean.

2 Days Before

1. Go to the market to buy flowers and all the groceries for the menu.

2. Start preparing any dishes you can make ahead of time, such as marinating the main course.

3. Set table with dinner plates, glasses, etc. This is the key to easy entertaining success!

4. Take out platters and serving utensils. Put notes on each platter or bowl that describe what is being served in them. (No last minute panicking while you’re trying to find the platter from Aunt Ida!)

5. Make sure your entryway and powder room are neat and tidy. Don’t forget guest towels — paper is great for a crowd, but it’s nice to have some cloth or linen ones available too.

6. Decide what you are wearing for the party. This is very important; you don’t want to feel thrown together when you’re the hostess!

Day Before

1. Arrange flowers and candles throughout house. Small vases and candles in the powder room and on the bar are always a nice touch.

2. Set up the bar area: Put out wine glasses and small dishes for lemons/limes. Don’t forget tongs for ice. Be sure to chill the wine.

3. Cut up limes, lemons and onions, put in plastic baggies and place them in the fridge. Any prep for cooking or garnishing is a huge time saver!

4. Create a music playlist or use an online streaming music service such as Pandora (my absolute favorite) or Spotify.

5. Finish any of your pre-made dishes, cover in wax paper, then plastic wrap to lock in freshness. Store dishes in the fridge.

Day of Party!

1. Buy fresh bread.

2. Put cut up veggies and place in pots to be cooked later on stove.

3. Get the main course oven-ready.

4. Realize how organized you are!!!

5. Put out bowls of nuts and olives near the bar and put cold appetizers on the table.

6. Light candles and put on music.

7. Get dressed and look fabulous.

8. Remember to give your main course enough time to set before serving.

9. Enjoy your party!

Photo credits: Elizabeth Lamont

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