Hi and Welcome to my home. If you’ve been here before, you know that entertaining is one of my most favorite things. There’s just something so rewarding about planning a get-together, whether large or small. The details are my favorite part. I love cultivating the perfect guest list, deciding on the theme, thinking through the menu, and making sure that everything is just “so”. I absolutely love all of the details. However, sometimes when “time” is not on my side or if the get-together is a last minute idea, I tend to feel a little stressed, or at least I used to. Throughout the years, I’ve discovered several tried-and-true effortless entertaining secrets and I’m sharing them with you today.
One of the most important things to remember about successful entertaining is that your guests are usually going to want something to eat. Maybe not a full meal, but at least a little nibble. I always, always, always have something in my pantry or refrigerator that can be made into a last-minute easy appetizer when friends just want to stop by. Usually, the always is a block of cheese or two, some delicious crackers, and either some special mustard (like my favorite Wasabi-Mustard) or delicious pepper jelly to make the perfect cheese board (also here). You can also serve some delicious olives, slices of charcuterie or store-bought cheese straws to make things even more special.
A few other quick make-ahead appetizers are Roasted Rosemary Cashews, Cheddar Walnut Crackers, and Mango Black Bean Salsa. If I know I’m having friends over, of course, I’ll whip up a dip or hot appetizer, but a make-ahead salsa, cracker, or mixed nuts are perfect for those last minute get-togethers. You can find many other appetizers here including the one above Roasted Pear & Prosciutto Crostini.
#2–wine or cocktails at the ready
The easiest entertaining secret for last-minute get-togethers is to open a bottle of wine. My husband and I are wine collectors so this is an easy one for me. But I always try to keep a good red, white, rosé and sparkling wine on hand.
I also usually try to keep a good selection of vodka, gin, bourbon (as well as mixers) and beer in the house just in case my guest isn’t a wine lover. I’m not a soft drink drinker, but I usually keep a few cans of soda or bottles of sparkling water for the non-drinkers. We are lucky to have a drink fridge in our laundry room and this makes things pretty easy.
If you want to get a little fancy, and you know your crowd’s likes and dislikes, make up a special cocktail in a pitcher, like a red or white sangria, margaritas, or even one of my latest favorites–Citrus Lillet Blanc Cooler.
#3–being “ready” for guests
Another one of the most important secrets that I’ll let you in on (and it’s not really a secret), is that I try to keep the common areas of my house picked up most of the time. I know that this is easier said than done, but every morning before I leave for work I make a quick run through the house and make sure everything is in its place. It’s actually become a habit now and makes things so easy. Also, I try to keep at least one bathroom (usually our half-bath off the kitchen) ready for guests at all times. This means that it’s well stocked–has great smelling lotion and soap, a beautiful candle, plenty of disposable guest towels, and the essential toiletries. There’s no reason to run around like crazy at the last minute to make sure that your bathrooms are guest ready.
#4–use what you’ve got
Keep it simple. Use the paper napkins, there is nothing wrong with it. Use your everyday dishes and silverware. Don’t worry about breaking out the fancy things. If I’ve got a big crowd I always like to use disposable plates, cups, and silverware. A few fun, colorful favorites are these disposable plates, these disposable napkins, these disposable cups (with a marker so that no one steals one another’s cups), and this disposable flatware. If your crowd is not too large, you might opt for these reusable plastic glasses or these clear acrylic stems if you are serving wine or sangria, so that you can use them over and over again as well as using your everyday dishes or theses for outdoor.
#5–take it outside
If the weather cooperates, and here that means not too much rain or heat, then we always take the party outside. We usually opt for patio parties when the weather is fine. It seems to make everything more relaxed and easy-going when the party is in and out.
Whenever I entertain outside I usually always set up an area for the food and cocktails leaving the sitting areas free. I find that this makes for much easier entertaining, allowing the tables to remain clear for the guests.
We also use the Sonos Wireless Sound System on our patio with these speakers for clear music streaming. It’s perfect with Pandora, Spotify, Apple music, Amazon music or Sirrius. I use the app on my phone and stream my favorite “party” playlist (which is a mixture of old and new and I’m always adding to it) or whatever I think the crowd would like.
So this is not really a secret but always remember to turn on a little music, light a few candles, and open the door. Even if you are hosting one person or a group of 20 the secrets of entertaining are the same. Serve something good to eat, pour a glass of wine or a cocktail, add in a little sparkling conversation, and you’ve got a party. Most of all, make sure to enjoy yourself.