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5 Tips for stress-free entertaining

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

Holiday entertaining should be fun!

If thoughts of guests arriving, pots simmering and cakes baking give you heart palpitations, then take a deep breath. Just keep these simple things in mind and you’ll be smooth sailing.
Woman setting up Easter brunch

Whether you are having guests for Easter brunch, a Passover Seder or Friday night dinner, here are five tips for entertaining to make it fun – not stressful.

5 Tips for stress-free entertaining

ListPlan ahead

This is the key to stress-free entertaining. As soon as you know you are having company, decide on a theme (is this a cocktail party, a casual get-together or an elegant sit-down meal?) and plan out your menu. Make a list and go grocery shopping at least the day before so you’re not in a scenario where guests are on the way and you just realized you’re out of an essential ingredient.

Don’t try new recipes

Experimenting in the kitchen is great, but your guests are not guinea pigs (that’s what family is for!). This is the time for tried and true recipes, whether it’s that casserole you’ve been making for 10 years or a simple, no fail roast chicken. Your guests will be happier – and you will be less stressed – with a simple, well-executed dish rather than a noble but ill-fated attempt at molecular gastronomy.

Make ahead dishes

Recipes that can be partially or entirely made ahead will save you loads of time and stress. It will also be more pleasant for your guests – when they arrive you will be able to greet and converse with them rather than being in a tizzy in your kitchen. Marinated, oven-baked chicken is a great option because it can be prepared ahead and you're able to time it so guests arrive to delicious aromas. All you have to do is pull it out of the oven.

Know your guests

Whether you’re having over old friends or your new boss, be sure to ask in advance if they have any likes, dislikes, and most importantly, dietary restrictions. The last thing you want is to prepare a huge seafood feast only to learn that someone at the table is allergic or vegetarian. If you can find out what kinds of foods they particularly love, then you can make the meal that much more special.

Have munchies out

It’s nice to have something out for guests to snack on right when they arrive. This often gets conversation going and also buys you time for any last-minute kitchen preparations. They don’t have to be fancy. Simple crudité with dip is always a winner and can be made in advance.

More entertaining tips

Tips for relaxed hosting
10 Tips for a memorable dinner party
Expert holiday entertaining tips: Stress less and cut costs

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