In recent times, our homes have become more than just a place to eat, sleep or relax. They are an extension of our lifestyle. Have you ever wished to entertain your friends at home, but the daunting task of putting it all together, gave you nightmares? Well if having friends and family over, is something you cherish, but find it hard to pull it together then here you will find the ultimate tips and recipes to put together a memorable gathering.
In our busy lives, it can often be challenging enough to cook a meal for ourselves, let alone for a group of people. There is a lot to be done and planned for and it can seem overwhelming. It often made me wonder how some people manage to host a gathering with so much ease, while mine felt so chaotic. I might have not figured out the ideal solution, but what I have figured out is that entertaining can be made easy, if one is not only planned but has also thought through a flow for the event.
What I realized from my gatherings at home, is that with all the preparation and serving, there was barely any time left to have fun. If you prepare a few things in advance, then during your gathering you get to spend time talking, laughing and simply having a good time. While it may seem like you can never plan enough ahead of time, something as simple as, preparing a playlist, taking out dinnerware, laying out the table linen, or preparing the powder room, can be done much ahead of time.
In addition to planning, keeping the menu very limited and having several appetizers such as a grazing board, cold appetizers, and tapas could be the best way to keep your guests nibbling. Dinner can often become tedious, in most cases it would be best to avoid having to cook a full lavish meal, but in case you have to, try to curate a menu that has mains such as a bake, lasagna and other pre-prepared meals that can be prepared in advance and simply popped into the oven, little before serving.
Planning the menu and decor go hand in hand for any gathering. If you enjoy entertaining and will be doing it often, buy items that elevate the décor of your tables and space. These could be simple additions such as lanterns, candle holders, vases or table linen. They can help elevate the whole experience, and make it more than just about a meal. Lighting scented candles, or placing diffusers, can also enhance the space and hence the whole guest experience. Making sure your powder room is stocked with supplies is something you should look at doing. The one thing I suggest not to compromise on is, fresh flower arrangements, nothing can be quite as welcoming as a bunch of fresh flowers on your coffee table, dining table and corners of your home.
Whilst decor and food is taken care of, entertaining for a big gathering can still be quite intimidating, hence try to keep your gathering size limited. Over the years, the one thing I have realized is to have gatherings often, but best to keep the size small, that way, you can enjoy the time with your guests as well. In addition, it is imperative to any party, to keep your bar fully stocked. It might be a good idea to stock the type of liquor your guests might like. Pairing the liquor with the kind of food you plan to offer is also a great idea. Lastly, don’t hesitate to outsource what you can. The eventual goal of any gathering is to have fun and make memories, so if you are busy executing things, it might take away from the whole purpose. Think about what you could potentially outsource and what you would want to do yourself.
Now that we are armored with enough tips to plan a lovely gathering, it’s time to look at some recipes for a quick and easy dinner. Start with a grazing board and it’s very simple to pull one together. It’s really about getting the best components, from cheese, cold cuts, and crackers to exotic nuts, relish and jams. You could also prepare some mini sliders, and top them up with some cheese, bacon or avocado. Sliders work very well in gatherings as they are easy to pick and snack on. You could pair them up with sweet potato fries or truffle fries, and your guests won’t stop eating them. Another very quick and easy snack to pull together is a nacho platter. Now, you could do a classic nacho offering but don’t fear getting a little too experimental. What also works very well is a papad nacho, which can be a very healthy alternative to the classic fried corn chips, especially if you have health-conscious guests. To keep next to your guests, you could also prepare some spiced nuts, to have something to nibble on with drinks. These usually are a hit, and get wiped out. Additionally, lettuce chicken wraps or even cold chimichurri rolls , work very well as cold appetizers. These don’t need much preparation and are delish. Moving on to dessert, I usually loved putting together a trifle or a biscuit pudding, which works very well with all the different layers, flavors and textures. The best part is that you could prepare this pudding and leave it to chill in the fridge, even a day in advance. Another great dessert would be fruit dipped in chocolate, depending on what’s in season, pair it with dark, milk or white chocolate to balance the sweetness.
Entertaining at home can be something quite fun and memorable for you and your friends. Hosting your friends and family is no easy task, but it all seems worth it when you see them have fun together. Throwing a successful party is not about getting everything perfect, but making sure that your guests and you are having a blast while taking care of them. Everything can be managed and planned for, from the food to the décor, but what you can’t plan and can’t redo is the party and its vibe itself. So once you are in it, don’t forget to have fun.