How to be an ‘Effortless’ Host

We all know entertaining is NOT effortless… Here is my three step ‘system’ to making it appear that way…

How do you do it?! How do you host a party, and make it look effortless?? These are two questions I get. A LOT.

I host a LOT of parties. Always have, and {hopefully!} always will! I love a houseful of people, eating, drinking and being merry. Entertaining is my love language. And, most of the time, the people who come into my home think I have done the entire shebang without effort. The two things people say most when they walk through the door, “How do you do it?! How do you do all this, and stay so calm?!” “You made this look effortless! What is your secret?!”

{{{Now, typing these phrases makes me feel so uncomfortable…. I do not like talking about myself — or about my “gifts.” I am not bragging, tooting my own horn, or trying to make you feel badly about yourself. Keep that in mind as you read further.  I was made to have parties, to cook for a houseful, and absolutely love it!}}}

I don’t really have secrets for entertaining. For me, it comes naturally. I am a methodical, efficient person in life — and that translates well into entertaining. If you are not this way, here’s my three step ‘system’ to help you through.

Plan, plan, plan. This parts seems even ridiculous to me, but the copious amount of planning I do seems to work out well in the long run. After my initial list making, I’ll condense multiple lists into one master list. Where, I have all the items on one page. I’ll snap a picture of it, just in case I find myself somewhere without it. Here is my breakdown of lists, before they go into the master list:

  1. Food/beverages – this includes grocery list!
  2. Guests – this is who is coming, where they are sitting, if they are bringing something, etc.
  3. “Accessories” – this is anything on your tabletop that isn’t food.
  4. Timeline – this works backwards! From dinner time, back to a week before.

If you know yourself well, you know what you can and cannot do. You know your time constraints, and you know your limitations. It is okay to ‘outsource’ or order something! ((I do it all the time!! I am not a baker, therefore, if I need a dessert, I either ask someone to bring it, or order something from a bakery.)) If you know crafty things are your thing — you don’t need to have them!! If you are really nervous about having people in your home, ask them each to bring something to contribute. This not only instantly includes people, you have conversations at the ready. One statement, “Tell me about your dish…” leads to the next question, “Is this a family recipe?” which leads to another, “Where did you grow up?” etc.

Work ahead…  I love having most everything finished well before party time starts… I like the table set and ready to go the day before (if you don’t have two tables, this doesn’t work, and is completely understandable!), I like the music playlist cued up several days before, and the ‘accessories’ ready to go a week before. Anything that I can chop, dice, precook, freeze, etc I do ahead of time. Like, days ahead of time. {Insert, my favorite app on my phone, the calendar/timer. Set those reminders for taking things out of the freezer!!}

Go with the flow.. This is where I STRUGGLE… I am not okay with last minute changes. I am not okay with last minute snafus. Being a methodical planner, when someone shows up unexpected, or a dish isn’t finished in the allotted time… I’ve been known to lose it. But, that’s where that pre-game glass of something something and a quick snack comes in handy.

The initial first few seconds may be my favorite of any party. That delicious waft of food being readied when you walk in the door, hearing music in the background, and seeing a table set, waiting for me. This is what I want people who walk into my home to experience. All their senses engaged, and anticipating a well-thought out gathering. You’ll find me outside on my own porch, walking in to make sure everything looks, smells, tastes as it should. It’s a real thing, y’all.

When you plan, you plan to work ahead. When you work ahead, you have less stress, therefore making you appear like an effortless host!

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