mulled cider

Reminders from a Reformed Over-Thinker

Entertaining season is upon us, and there’s no time left to ruminate about the finer points of throwing a top-notch party. If you’re in the weeds (chef-speak for very overwhelmed!), here are some reminders to help you entertain like a person who has had plenty of time on their hands.

Buy some wine. That’s it! We’re guilty of touting cute cocktails mixed to order, and though we love that, they don’t make or break a party. Planning for a bottle per person is a safe way to make sure you don’t run out. For a big party, that can add up to a lot of money. So, don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring their favorite bottle to share with the group. You might consider a batch non-alcoholic drink that everyone can enjoy.

Stay simple. Strike complicated items from your menu. Seriously! If you have a main dish, a nice veggie, and some sides, you have enough. No one will notice you didn’t put out any homemade rolls. Prepping items ahead of time is key to actually enjoying your party, so plan as many make-ahead recipes as you can. And consider buying some things that are ready made. Why not purchase charcuterie, cheese, and some fun condiments that you can lay out artistically on a platter? No muss, no fuss, and guaranteed to be a hit. But remember, don’t get tunnel vision about executing your big plan. If something doesn’t work out, your guests won’t even be aware of it.

Ask for help. Every guest wants to bring something, so this time, let them, but be specific! Since hosts tend to focus on the main course, guests who bring extra appetizers and desserts can help fill in gaps and take some of the pressure off of you. As people get settled in, ask kids (or kids-at-heart) to help set the table. Do not argue if they offer to help clear. Remember, it’s like giving them permission to ask you for help next time they have a party—which is actually the best gift you can give to a frazzled host or hostess.