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Take the Stress Out of Entertaining Guests

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Take the Stress Out of Entertaining Guests

Entertaining Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

Summer is the prime season for hosting friends and family, but for many of us, the idea of entertaining guests can feel more like a chore than a joyful experience. I used to be a total stress-case when it came to having people over, agonizing over menus, table settings, and making sure every inch of the house was spotless. But over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make entertaining much more enjoyable – for both me and my guests.

Ditch the Idea of Perfection

The first and most important thing I’ve realized is that aiming for perfection is a surefire way to ruin the fun. As one of my friends once told me, “There’s no way I could put something like that together” after attending an incredibly elaborate dinner party. The host had clearly gone to so much effort, but the pressure of trying to replicate that kind of experience put my friend off from ever hosting in return.

At the end of the day, your guests aren’t looking for a Michelin-starred meal or an Instagram-worthy tablescape. They’re there to spend quality time with you and enjoy each other’s company. As long as you make them feel welcome and the food is edible, that’s really all that matters. I’ve had my fair share of hosting disasters over the years – from overcooked baked eggs to quinces that nearly broke my guests’ teeth. But you know what? Those mishaps have become part of the folklore, the funny stories we look back on and laugh about.

Enlist Help and Delegate Tasks

Another big key to stress-free entertaining is learning to let go of the reins and accept help from others. As my friend Vanessa at Style and Shenanigans points out, “Don’t insist on making everything yourself – seriously, this is not only unnecessary, it sets an unrealistic expectation for your friends or family too.”

When my friends Anna and The Baker came over for dinner, I made a delicious duck ragu the day before so I could focus on being a present and relaxed host rather than frantically cooking while they were there. And for our casual family birthday dinners, I’ll often buy a couple of ready-made pasta bakes from Costco and just add a simple salad or two. The keys are to choose dishes you can prepare in advance, and don’t be afraid to delegate other tasks to your guests, whether it’s bringing a side dish or a bottle of wine.

Use Tech to Your Advantage

In this day and age, we have so many tools at our disposal to make hosting a breeze. Vanessa is a big fan of online grocery and alcohol delivery, which she uses to stock up on essentials without having to add another errand to her to-do list. I’ve also discovered the magic of renting pre-styled tablescapes from companies like Table + Teaspoon and Borrowed Blu – no more stressing over mismatched plates and linens!

And let’s not forget the power of a good playlist. Putting together an eclectic mix of tunes is one of my favorite parts of hosting. It instantly sets the mood and helps put everyone at ease. I try to tailor the vibe to the occasion, whether it’s a mellow brunch or an all-out dance party.

Get Outside and Keep It Simple

When the weather is warm, I find that eating outdoors instantly makes entertaining feel more relaxed and fun. As Vanessa notes, “If you don’t have enough seating, get out a picnic rug for the kids, grab a couple of deck chairs and enjoy the serenity.” Plus, you can skip the fancy table settings and go for a more casual, laid-back vibe.

And when it comes to the menu, following the advice of the experts, I’ve learned that simple, familiar dishes are always a crowd-pleaser. A classic summer BBQ with a few tasty salads, or a relaxed brunch spread – these are the kinds of meals that let me actually enjoy the company of my guests rather than stressing in the kitchen.

Prioritize Quality Time Over Perfection

At the end of the day, the most important thing is creating an environment where your guests feel comfortable and welcome. As event planner Bronson van Wyck puts it, “The host’s energy is infectious. People want to see you having a good time. They don’t want to see you frazzled, and they don’t want to not see you because you’re stuck in the kitchen or behind the bar.”

So take a deep breath, let go of the idea of perfection, and focus on being present with your guests. Chances are, they’re not there to judge your culinary skills or your home decor – they just want to spend quality time with you. And who knows, your baking mishaps or dinner party foibles might just become the stuff of legendary host-hosting stories down the line.

Ready to start planning your next stress-free gathering? Head on over to HomeCookingRocks.com for all the recipes, tips, and inspiration you need to make your next hosting gig a total breeze.

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