I am a Leo. Now, if you believe in all of that astrology stuff, you’ll know that this means that I’m a generous leader-type of person. *Ahem*, I might also be a titch on the sensitive side as well.
But most importantly, it means that I love to host.
I’m a homebody by nature and by nurture. My parents enjoy staying at home, and as a result, I was raised to be the same. I would MUCH prefer to have hordes of people wander into my home and hang around the island rather than going out for supper. I love the satisfaction of tucking the last glass into the dishwasher and replaying the night’s events before heading upstairs to bed.
But this doesn’t mean that hostessing is always a seamless and completely stress-free endeavour. I have a few friends who get anxious at the thought of having more than two or three people over for drinks and appies. And some days, as I’m rushing home to set the table, I wonder, “Why on earth do I do this to myself?”
But then I remember: it’s because I love it.
And after years of, “Just come over to our house…” I’ve learned some tricks to make hostessing less work and much more fun.
1. Make as much as you can in advance.
Yes, there is something so industrious and appealing about asking a guest to chop celery along with you while you sip red wine and banter about the day. But the reality is, having a dinner party is MUCH less stressful when nearly all of your prep is done. Be the sous-chef as well as the chef.
The Whirlpool SMART French Door refrigerator has shelves that “flip” up and down without having to clear the shelves. This helps to make room for appetizers, bowls, and sparkling wine without having to struggle with the contents of your fridge. It’s an entertainer’s dream!
Make your salads and chop your veggies before your guests arrive. Leave them in ziplock bags and plate/cook them when needed.
Have your appetizers ready and waiting in the fridge.
Consider making meals that don’t require you to hover over the stove, such as lasagne, roast chicken, or pasta.
Risotto is lovely, but so is witty banter with your friends. And at the end of the day, they’ll remember your conversation more than they’ll remember your creamy side dish.
2. Use cloth napkins.
This is a weird one, isn’t it? But you’ll find that your table is instantly elevated, and your guests will feel that much more appreciated. I mean, you’re willing to wash linens that wiped food from their faces!
3. Have enough ice on hand.
Oh, this is a Mr. Suburble staple. Every time we have guests over, Mr. Suburble gets to work on ensuring we have enough ice. In his eyes, it’s how he properly takes care of our guests. Whether you’re serving cocktails or sodas, having an ice cold drink makes everything taste just that much better.
We have a Whirlpool refrigerator that has a fantastic ice bucket built right into the door. We grab it, dump it, and then pop it back into the ice maker.
But now…. there’s a new Whirlpool in town. The Whirlpool SMART French Door fridge has a Party Mode button that automatically kicks Fast Ice and Fast Cool settings into gear by speeding up ice production, quickly chilling beverages and snacks, and maintaining cool temperatures while the refrigerator doors are frequently being opened and closed.
When I told Mr. Suburble this, his eyes lit up. “So…. can we get that?!?”
The Dual Ice makers also store more than twice the ice with a secondary icemaker in the freezer to hold an additional 5 lbs of ice so you always have plenty on hand.
Imagine how fast you could fill wine buckets, coolers, or baggies of ice to keep “just in case”? Trust me, we have MANY just-in-case ice bags in our freezer. Ice is VERY important to my mister.
4. Use the outdoors to decorate your table.
You don’t have to break the bank to decorate a lovely table for your guests. I’m in the habit of wandering outside with my scissors when I’m setting the table. Even if you only have a few shrubs in your yard, greenery can go a long way towards making a table cozy and beautiful.
This table setting – Thanksgiving at my mother’s – is mostly hydrangeas and leaves cut from her yard. The hydrangeas sit in mason jars, and the mismatching candlesticks add some interest to the table. Ten minutes in the garden can result in a beautiful and inexpensive tablescape.
This rustic toolbox became an impromptu centerpiece once I robbed my backyard cedar tree of its branches. A few floral picks and ornaments, and I’m thrilled with it!
Get creative with mason jars, crates, boxes, and old vases. It doesn’t take much to make your table look stunning.
5. Don’t stress about making your house perfectly clean and tidy.
Having a clean house is probably the biggest stressor for me when I’m planning a get-together. I am a creative, so I’m messy by design.
At least, that’s what I tell myself.
But after years of running around like a headless chicken, trying to dust off tables and wiping down baseboards, I’ve figured out that after about 15-20 minutes of having guests in your house – and this is especially true if children are in tow – your house will appear “lived-in” all over again.
I use the “laundry basket trick” when I’m doing my super-fast clean up of the house. I grab an empty laundry basket and pick up everything that doesn’t belong in your entertaining rooms. Toys, papers, books – I just chuck them in the basket.
Then, I put the basket into our bedroom and shut the door. Who needs to be in my bedroom anyway? Now the house is clean, and I can spend more time arranging cedar boughs or finding a lighter for the candles.
It’s taken a while, but I think I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff. Your guests just want to come and spend time with you, they’re not there to critique your hospital corners or how clean your windows are.
(Bonus tip) 6. Roll with it.
Have fun! Don’t let a burned side dish or a spilled glass of wine derail your night. Laugh it off – or grab a take-out menu – and enjoy your company.
I’ve pulled a burned roast chicken out of the oven, carved it (sans skin) and pretended it how it was supposed to look. I’ve ordered pizza once we realized that my rock-hard calzones were inedible – and uncuttable. I’ve opened my cookbook to write down ingredients for a Thai dinner and then threw my hands up and said, “I don’t have the patience for this. I’m ordering in.”
Nobody will miss the skin, right?
Be like Elsa and let it go. So the main dish is ruined? Did a glass break? Make sure everyone has a full drink and enjoy each other. That’s the best part of having company over.
This post was sponsored by Whirlpool Canada. All opinions are strictly my own.