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It doesn’t matter if you are expecting company or not, when you have company, you need to get dinner on the table. By following these 5 steps for easy entertaining you will have the tools you need to feed your guests quickly, effortlessly, and on a budget.
1. Get together a list of recipes that you make well.
First, make a list of what you make well. I want you to list at least three main dishes, two appetizers, and two desserts. These will be your go-to’s. If you still refer to the recipes when making them, keep them together in the front of your recipe box marked “Entertaining”.
If you’re having trouble thinking what they might be think about this – are there recipes that your family loves and asks for time after time? For me, it’s my Slow Cooker Pot Roast. I used to think that this meal wasn’t “fancy” enough for entertaining. Now, I know better. Anything made with love (and that tastes good) is PERFECT for entertaining! Gone are the days where everything has to be perfect! Let go of that! Most people appreciate a good, home cooked meal. Make your list, go ahead, I’ll wait.
When thinking about what you make – don’t leave out the simple items. For example: cookies or brownies can be made special with just a little powdered sugar!
After thinking about it you’re probably surprised with how many of your go-to dishes could be used for entertaining. If you need a few ideas for main dishes you can check out the ones below. I promise they’re super simple – and all are already guest approved! You can also check out the Food Network – they always have great party ideas!
2. Stock your pantry with essentials.
Now that you have a list of recipes for your favorite appetizers, main course, and desserts, it’s time to make sure that your pantry is readily stocked with these items. (HINT: I always slice one large chicken breast into four thin slices and wrap them individually prior to freezing. This way I can take out what I need and quickly defrost them). If one of your favorite dishes has ingredients that you may not always have on hand – for me, cilantro, for example, do yourself a favor and pick up the frozen cubes of herbs. They always work well in a pinch if you’re having a spontaneous dinner party! Also, keeping items like crackers, breadsticks, and cheeses on hand makes entertaining a breeze! You can read more about pantry organization as well as throwing a dinner party on the blog as well.
Use what you have. It’s really that simple! Place a cloth on the table. Add a vase of fresh flowers (or even a small potted one from outside), and set the table. Add candles for ambiance, perhaps take out some fabric napkins (come on, admit it – you use paper napkins just like us on most days), and turn on some tunes. All of a sudden, you’re ready to entertain – and unless you bought a bouquet for the occasion, it didn’t cost you a dime! I go more in depth on throwing stress free dinner parties in this post if you’re interested.
4. Plan Ahead
In addition to having a stocked pantry, you should also have some other odd party supplies on hand. For example, I keep a bag of ice cubes in my freezer. In addition, I usually have a couple of trays of ice cubes that have cut up lemon and lime in them. Pop them into someone’s water and wallah! You’re the hostess with the mostess! (Do this with cranberries during the holidays – super impressive).
Another hint is to make a few meals ahead of time and freeze them. I haven’t met may people who don’t like lasagna or eggplant parmesan. These are meals that can easily be made ahead and frozen. They go straight into the oven from the freezer. Pick up seasonal cocktail napkins at places like Hobby Lobby and Target when they are on sale after holidays. Pull those out and you’re queen of the cocktail! Nobody needs to know that you got them inexpensively! You’ll just look super prepared!
5. Keep Calm and Party On
Simple is always better. We are our own biggest enemies when it comes to stress for events that should be fun! Enjoy every moment. Put on those tunes, pop a frozen lemon into your neighbors water, and drop the mic. You’ve got this.
PS: Check out these recipes for easy entertaining on a budget!
Peanut Butter Balls (can be frozen and used whenever you need them).