Entertaining can fun but also overwhelming, especially when you have kids. For example, this weekend I’m hosting a brunch for my family which happens to be 20 people. Over the years I’ve discovered a few tricks that allow me to actually enjoy the celebration instead of feeling like I am slaving away in the kitchen or as the clean up crew.
Divide and conquer: This means get some help. At my house, I typically take care of the food while my husband takes care of the beverages. That means everything from selecting the wine to stocking the bar with ice, cups and garnishes, and ensuring the champagne saber is handy(usually just for New Year’s Eve).
For brunch on Sunday, my husband is in charge of picking up at the coffee at Dunkin Donuts and also responsible for picking up the bagels and smoked fish the day before. It isn’t a big drinking crowd so he should be able to handle both!
DO NOT try to make everything from scratch: I’ve learned that having 1 or 2 homemade items mixed in with some open and serve items creates the impression that you’ve done a lot of work and your guests will be really impressed.
For the brunch, I’m making my favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake and an egg casserole. We’re serving those along side bagels & lox with all of the fixings and a fruit tray. My two amazing dishes show I put some effort into the meal but I wasn’t cooking for days to have it ready.
Preparation is key! I learned this when I was working in restaurants. You never know what you are going to walk into at the beginning of your shift so the more you can prepare ahead of time the better. I also select menu items that require little hands on attention. For our New Years Eve Party we serve a large selection of cheese and I always make a brie en croute. The brie looks really impressive and all I have to do is pop it in the oven and serve.
This weekend the casserole is the only item that needs to bake the day of. Everything else will be ready and waiting the night before.
Paper and Plastic are okay. This one really came into effect when my second son was born and since my third son was born it is the rule, not the exception. I just don’t have time anymore to wash all of those dishes. Of course if I am serving a fancy sit down dinner for 6 or 8, I’ll pull out the fine china and silver but when it is a party with kids present, disposable is the way to go!
Luckily, I live down the block from Party City. We’ve already purchased our Thomas the Tank Engine Plates, disposable tablecloths and everything else we’ll need for the party.
I hope you’ll put my tips to good use next time you are entertaining. Please let me know if you have tips you’d like to add.