My mom is a great cook and an even more fabulous hostess. She has an arsenal of “favorite” recipes that she can pull out for a crowd, but she also is great at developing new dishes on the fly to wow guests with her creative flair. When I think what I learned from her about feeding guests, the lessons that stand out the most are to use fresh and wholesome ingredients, always keep the basics stocked so you’re ready for the unexpected, prepare for parties in advance by planning and prepping ahead of time, make sure you have plenty for your guests, and last but not least, presentation, presentation, presentation!
TIP 1: SERVE REAL FOOD
When planning food for a party, it’s really easy to default to yummy dishes that are junk food in disguise. While there’s no better time for a treat than at a party, having wholesome options available for your guests is a plus. Whether you are providing h’ordeuvres or an entire meal, there have never been so many beautiful, healthful recipe options available as there are now from online resources and cookbooks. Take some time to find your go-to recipes made from real ingredients and wow your guests with how delicious real food is.
TIP 2: KEEP THE BASICS STOCKED
I’ve always wanted to be the kind of family that folks felt comfortable just dropping by to see, and at least once a month we end up having an impromptu dinner party with friends or neighbors who happen to converge at dinner time. While our house may not always be perfectly tidy, I do try to always have snacks or ingredients on hand to feed unexpected guests. For us that means keeping a few cans or garbanzo beans stocked so I can make hummus in a few minutes to serve with veggies and crackers. We also typically have cheese, apples, almonds and chocolate which can make up a nice little snack if needed!
TIP 3: PLAN AND PREPARE
When you’re planning for a party, lists are your friends! Decide on your menu and use that to determine your grocery list and a rough schedule of when you need to prepare food for your guests. If you’re preparing for a large event, make everything you can ahead of schedule in order to leave plenty of time to make foods that don’t hold over well and to take care of last minute hosting and decorating details.
TIP 4: BE PLENTIFUL
As you prepare for your event, make sure you take the number of guests and the amount of food needed into account. If you’re serving h’ordeuvres or finger foods, keep in mind that sometimes guests “snack” on that more than they would if you’re serving a proper dinner. The “yield” on recipes is a helpful way to plan how much you need for your guests and make sure no one leaves hungry, or check out this great chart below!
TIP 5: PRESENTATION
No matter how delicious your food is, it even better when it’s beautifully presented. Serve food from proper serving dishes with appropriate serving ware. When possible, garnish your dishes with herbs, nuts, seeds, flowers or other complimentary ingredients. Finally, prepare a place for your guests where they can eat comfortably and enjoy your company!
[Photo Credit: breadandolives.tumblr.com]
I’m so thankful for all the ways my mom demonstrated graceful hospitality, and I love implementing those lessons as I host in our home.