Let me put some of my own hard-won entertaining know-how to work for you. Send me your cooking and entertaining questions, comments, hopes, dreams, and especially nightmares and I'll give it my best shot.
Here are my 5 favorite no sweat entertaining tips:
1. This just in: You're not Superwoman! You don't have to make the hummus from chickpeas, or make homemade pizza dough, or spend all day baking desserts. Those things are great, but not every gathering has to be a full-on Martha Stewart tour de force. Look for store bought substitutes and lean on premade veggie and fruit platters.
2. Keep the menu simple, reliable, and make-ahead, especially if entertaining tends to be stressful for you. A dinner party is not the time to try a fancy new soufflé recipe (trust me, I speak from experience here). Focus the menu on simple, quality ingredients and you'll be sure to impress.
3. Clean and set out serving dishes ahead of time. Don't spend all morning trying to remember where you put the serving spoon from Thanksgiving. Besides, I tend to be a bit tipsy after parties and wind up putting stuff in the oddest places! Rinse out pitchers, ice buckets, and anything else you tend not to use very often and get it all ready to go ahead of time.
4. Decorate a few days ahead. There's no reason why you can't make flower arrangements or hang decorations a few days ahead. It will give you plenty of time to place everything perfectly and get in the party spirit. And flowers sometimes need a day or so to open and bloom, so your arrangement will be at its peak of prettiness when your guests arrive.
5. One other important tip: Make sure you've got plenty of time to take a nice bath, do your hair and makeup, and put on a cute outfit! Pick out what you're going to wear ahead of time, so you don't wind up making a hasty decision you'll regret. There's nothing worse than answering the door all sweaty and flustered; you feel shabby and your guests feel guilty. Plus, when you see the pictures, you'll be horrified.
Focus on the fun of entertaining, not on every tiny detail. Oh, and let the guests bring something!
Dear Family Fun,
Cornhole is one of my backyard favorites. It's essentially a classic game of bean bag toss the whole family can play together. You can even order cornhole sets customized with your favorite team's colors or even a football gridiron. You can also find plans to make your own cornhole set online.
Face painting, paper football, and Super Bowl trivia are great indoor games if the weather is too cold to play outside.
Dear Kids Eats,
Anything kids can put together themselves is always fun.
Here are some of my favorite family-friendly Super Bowl Sunday recipes:
For a healthier twist, substitute low fat chicken sausage for the cocktail frank.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars
Classic PB&J and buttery shortbread make a classic, comforting and simple dessert.
These classic sliders are easy to throw together and make delcious little mini sandiwches for kids!
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