Entertaining: Tips on how not to stress.

One thing Mr. Sweet and I love to do is entertain. It is one our favorite ways to spend quality time with friends. We enjoy the intimacy of gathering at our home instead of a loud restaurant or lounge.

Usually hosting an evening at home can be stressful. If you aren’t ready beforehand you can find yourself scrabbling around the house cleaning, finding/washing the serving platters and trying to get everything in order. The last thing you want to do is stress before entertaining.

Here are a couple of tips on how not to stress hosting an evening with friends.

• A winning strategy is to plan ahead, know what you want to cook, whom you would like to invite and the overall theme of the party.

• Choose recipes that you can make in advance.

• If stressed for time, a slow cooker meal is always the way to go. Prepare the night before and only minimal effort is needed on the day of the party.

• DO NOT do the shopping, food, cleaning and have everyone over the same day. This is a recipe for disaster and may possibly start a fight with your significant other because you are so stressing out. (Ahem..Why you looking at me Mr. Sweet??)

• Allow more time than you think necessary. You risk being behind schedule should a problem arise.

• Shop 1-2 days before your party and make sure to double check you have everything. I can’t tell you how many times I am missing one. little. ingredient.

• If you are serving booze, remember to prepare glassware, buy straws and stock up on ice. Doubling your estimate is always a sure bet – it’s better to have too much then not enough. You could always save the extra bottles for your next event.

• Have a buffer. My husband is the perfect buffer. He keeps our guests entertained while I am in the kitchen completing dinner. Afterwards, I am his buffer as he is clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. This also gives you one on one time with your guests.

• If you can, clean as you go. No one enjoys a huge mess at the end of a great evening.

• Don’t panic. There is ALWAYS someone who is going to be early and there will always be someone who is going be late. Try not to time the dishes you are making to coordinate exactly when you have asked your guests to arrive. I have fallen into this trap and have had a couple of dried out meals to show for it.

Above all, don’t let the little things bother you. Who cares that you don’t have 20 different sodas to offer, the bread is crispier then you would like or the dessert doesn’t look bakery perfect. Don’t let these challenges ruin your evening. Let them go and have fun. Most likely your guests won’t even notice!

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