Jordan and I both love to entertain on a small scale. Over the years we have come up with some easy tips that make a brunch for friends, drinks with the neighbors, a birthday party, or a dinner party go smoothly. These tips make it easier for us to show our friends a good time. And believe me, if we are relaxed, then our guests are more relaxed, too. We came up with some strategies that won’t rock the world, but they will make entertaining easier.
1. Put out some simple pre-meal appetizers. Some nuts, cheese crackers, and olives take no prep time at all, and they can settle your guests’ appetites while you finish things up in the kitchen. Plus, if you go light with the snacks, they will still be plenty hungry for the big meal. There’s no need to make/bake a heavy appetizer when small munchies will do. Serving them in a silver bowl adds a little sparkle to the evening. If you are serving brunch, then prepare some mimosas or bloody Marys ahead of time. Have some plain juices available, too.
2. Create a playlist beforehand so you aren’t fussing with music throughout. Have some lively music playing when your guests arrive, and then tone it down for the meal. Remember that the music should play quietly in the background so it doesn’t compete with conversations. A good and free source is Pandora.
3. Decant your wine ahead of time. It allows the wine to breathe, and it looks pretty. You can pour it into a pretty wine decanter or just remove the cork and let the bottle of wine rest.
4. Have both sparkling and plain water available. It’s always important to have alternate choices for your guests who don’t want an alcoholic beverage. (Jordan has a Soda Stream which is a great way to save money on sparkling water.)
5. Use place cards. Place cards can be as simple or as fancy as you need them to be. Not only does it tell your guests they are special, but it also eliminates the confusion of who sits where when your meal is ready. A good rule to follow when seating your guests is to put man, woman, man, woman, etc. and don’t put couples beside each other. It creates a livelier atmosphere.
6. Use your silver or brass. If you are having a dinner party, silver or brass candlesticks and and some long white tapered candles always create a cozy environment. And always remember to keep your floral arrangements low enough so your guests can talk and see over them.
7. Put your cell phones away. Isn’t it a shame that we even have to say this? But, please, no phones at the table. A cute and gentle suggestion would be a little basket near the front door so guests can drop their phones off when they arrive and pick them up when they leave.
8. Use cotton napkins. Yes, cotton napkins might require a little work after the meal, but cotton napkins are so worth it. We both use cotton napkins daily.
9. Prepare your coffee station ahead of time. If you are planning to serve coffee, have everything ready to go. Turn on the coffee maker right before your sit down to eat so it will be ready when you are. Offer both regular and decaf. Fresh cream plus some flavored coffee mates will be appreciated.
10. Have a place for coats and purses. Designate an area or a room near the front door for your guests to keep these items. My friend Kate actually has a metal coat rack that she pulls out when she entertains. If you put it in an area that has a mirror, it gives your guests a chance to check their hair and make-up when they arrive but before they join the festivities. If it’s raining, have a spot for wet umbrellas.
We think our ten tips are good ones. Hopefully, you have found at least one tip that you can use the next time you are entertaining. Do you have any to add to the list? Please leave them in the comments.
Image of coat rack from Amazon.com. Affiliate links in post.