New or reluctant hostesses often panic when they are asked to host a holiday party or even a Thanksgiving dinner, but there is no need. A little planning goes a long way in giving a successful party.
Decide what kind of party it will be. Is it a sit-down dinner, a buffet, a cocktail party, a family affair with all the youngsters or a big football game party on Thanksgiving? If it is a sit-down or buffet meal, ask for help. Do not try to do it all.
Set the menu for dinner, and ask guests to make one of the dishes or bring the wine or dessert. The hostess can hand out recipes for the dish or dishes she needs.
Go casual for a sit-down dinner, and get creative with flannel, easy-care linens or even a quilt for a pretty table covering. These items can go straight into the washer after use and are perfect for gatherings that include all ages — no muss, no fuss.
Different parties call for different menus, table settings and even decorations. Whether you’re hosting a festive holiday party or watching a big game on television, serving top-notch appetizers or snacks is a must. No, food does not guarantee the party’s success, but it certainly helps.
Follow cookbook author and television personality Sandra Lee’s lead. At her parties, she does not make all the dishes or appetizers. She plays to her strengths, making the dishes she does best and then filling in with semi-homemade ones.
At Thanksgiving, the hostess can prepare the turkey or whatever meat she wants to serve, make a couple of side dishes and purchase the rest from a caterer or restaurant. Perhaps not all guests like dressing; do not fret. Buy one from a restaurant or caterer who can do a smaller amount.
If a hostess makes a great pie or cake, then she should make it, but if she finds a store-bought one that tastes just as good, buy it. A Coast wholesale club makes a pecan pie as good as gram makes. This takes one less chore off the list.
One big no-no is running out of food and drinks. Plan on at least 12 appetizers per person. If you are having 24 guests, then 288 appetizers are needed. If the appetizers are replacing heartier fare or a meal, then 20 hors d’oeuvre per person are more like it.
Serving a large quantity of fewer hors d’ oeuvre is easier on the host. All he or she must do is double or triple the recipe. Always serve tasty appetizers, ones that the host and guests enjoy.
From party to party, keep notes on which appetizers are favorites.
For a cocktail party, plan on a punch, plus a variety of alcohol and mixers. A friend of mine trims party costs by offering pitchers of two different cocktails. Always have club soda or soft drinks on hand, as well as red and white wines.
Punch is a must for a non-alcoholic party, or really any party. Again, have club soda, tea, soft drinks and coffee for guests.
Whatever is served, be sure to relax and enjoy. After all, it is a party.
Keeping it simple is best — simple, but good food, pretty-but-easy decorations and uncomplicated tablescapes.
Good friends and family, music and food make any party one guests will remember fondly.
Most of all, remember to have fun. A relaxed hostess makes for a good time for all.
TIPS FOR THE PERFECT PARTY
Take the fear out of holiday gatherings with a few practical tips:
- Keep the party, no matter what kind, simple.
- Do not do all the preparations. Let others, friends or professionals, help.
- Relax. A relaxed host has fun parties.
- Always greet guests at the door.
- Immediately take jackets/ coats. You can hand them to another to hang up or put them in a room set aside for coats.
- Take gifts and follow the same procedure as coats.
- Introduce arriving guests to friends standing in the area.
- Give directions to food and drinks to your arriving guests.
- After all the guests arrive, circulates to ensure everyone is comfortable and enjoying themselves.
- Assign someone to make sure there is enough food and drinks for everyone throughout the party.
- Have fun.
Andrea Yeager is a freelance writer living in Gulfport. Reach her at email@example.com.