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Hosting a party is hard work

My partner and I had a party last Saturday evening. It went fairly smoothly, but the amount of work involved was more than I had planned for. Between coming up with the guest list, planning the menu, cleaning the house, doing the shopping and preparing the food it was quite an endeavor.

And don't get me started on the guesswork in planning for anywhere from 5 to 35 guests, because people did not reply to the invite, or waited until the day before to let us know one way or the other. Fortunately, we figured about 20 people would show up, which is exactly what happened.

The day of the party we were so discombobulated that we forgot to put the white wine out, and considering it was a wine & cheese party it was a major goof on our part. We just plain forgot. We also forgot to get more than one kind of cheese. I don't know why. We were just overwhelmed with it all. Luckily a few people brought some cheese, and wine too.

I don't know how people manage to throw together parties on a regular basis. We made lists of things to do, and still managed to forget things.

The one thing I will remember for the next party is that if it doesn't get done before the first guest arrives, it doesn't get done at all. It was nearly impossible to work while the guests are needing your attention.

And why does everyone congregate in the kitchen! We have a big comfortable living room right next to it with two sofas and comfy chairs, but 15 out of the 20 people never left the kitchen the entire time they were there!

Ok. That's my vent for today.

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  1. They are indeed a ton of work. SO used to host regular holiday parties for friends - anywhere from 5 to 35 people. Between, the shopping (me), cleaning (SO), cooking (both of us), planning and keeping people supplied w/ food and drink we rarely actually enjoyed the festivities. The clean up was attended by both of us but I usually took the brunt of it because I wasn't willing to "let it wait until tomorrow".

    We rarely host anymore. Too expensive and too much work.

    Friends of ours host parties on a regular basis, throughout the year. Mostly it's family (35 - 50 people) but sometimes friends are invited as well (up to 100 people). Because we're considered family we get invited to almost all of their parties and I have to say I am truly in awe. They have it down to a science and truly enjoy themselves and the house is never trashed like ours always seemed to be.

    1. Parties are very hard. I've done some really complicated ones in the past, and as a result convinced myself not to entertain often.

      My method is to plan it to death and make detailed lists and schedules. I do fairly well with this.

      My failing? I am so exhausted and obsessed with the details by the time the party happens that I (in my own judgement) fail as a host!

      I tend to be running around so much that I forget to relax, enjoy myself, and make sure that others are having fun as well. I forget to make sure peoples' drink are full, for one; I have nightmares afterwards that everyone spent the party trying to decide whether they should die of thirst or get it themselves!

      Thanks for the vent opportunity.

      I hope you enjoyed your party? The kitchen is usually the best place to be at a party, anyway.....

      1 Reply
      1. re: sandylc

        Hosted a birthday BBQ for 20 over the weekend. Had shopping lists, prep lists, oven lists. Everything went as scheduled. Well, except for a tater tot that fell off the tray and scorched on the bottom of the oven.

        But, yes, planning and hosting is hard work. Does get easier once you've gotten the hang of it.

      2. Hi Reston,

        Consider it a compliment that people congregate in your kitchen! It means it was a welcome, homey space. My kitchen is tiny (I mean....really tiny)....but my aunts with ample kitchens would "move" people by giving them platters of food to carry out to the living room. Subtle hints! :-)

        The planning for, execution of, and clean up after a party is a big deal, no matter what, unless you have domestic staff (which most folks don't). Add to that the demands of daily life, work, etc, and it's a lot.

        The only thing I'd add is that what you think is a big deal, probably isn't....it sounds like your party was a great success, and you should be pleased indeed.

        1. It gets easier the more you do it.

          My #1 advice? Now that the party is over, but still fresh in your mind, write down all the lessons learned -- how much wine you drank - what cheese disappeared first - what cheese didn't get touched -- don't forget to put the white wine out -- who was invited -- who showed -- what you served -- what was too big a pain in the butt to do again -- what you wished you'd done -- what went really well -- everything that you think you need to know the next time you throw a party.

          Then the next time you want to have a party - pull that list up -- then all the need-to-know stuff is right there in black-and-white in front of you.

          I do this the morning after every big party -- I've even been know to go through the recycle bin and count how much of what beverages we drank -- and it really, really helps keep me on track for the next one.

          and a ps to sandylc's post -- accept before you even send the invitation that something will go straight to hell....so don't obsess, smooth it over the best you can, and enjoy your guests.

          9 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            You are SO right about the postmortem, which I regularly think of doing, don't do, and live to regret not doing. I have, however, observed that people are drinking a lot less than they used to but that you simply never know how much they will eat. Flexible systems are essential.

            I find that you do indeed have to have everything done before the first guest arrives. Even the ones who come early to "help" often require attention that distracts me and makes me forget simple things like putting out a dish for the olive pits. But having precise jobs ready for the helpers helps.

            Many people actually love to help during the party, especially guests who don't know many people. After years of telling them not to bother, I now understand and take advantage, but you have to have a system for the helping, such as designated places to put used silverware and dishes. People don't actually enjoy seeing their hostess looking/acting like the maid, so I do try to remove my apron at some point and sit down and talk to some guests.

            When I bought my dishwasher, my main concern was the noise level. It's quiet enough that I can run it during a dinner party, much less a big buffet thing, and it definitely helps cleanup to have one load already done by the time the guests leave.

            The bathroom is important: I try to keep a nightlight on so the guests can find the switch. Guest towels are a must, but hide your used bath towels or some people will use them, not wanted to mess up the guest towels. I find this disconcerting on many levels, but experience has taught me simply to be ready. I am still creeped out, however, when I see the guest towels untouched.

            With age and experience, it does get easier, and I no longer ask myself why am I doing this. I'm really very happy I have a home that people want to visit and seem to have fun in.

            1. re: mbfant

              oh, the bottle count is for soda, juice, sparkling water, etc., too -- I grossly overbought on sodas a few years ago, so the count helped bring the count back in line with what people actually consume.

              1. re: mbfant

                <you simply never know how much they will eat. Flexible systems are essential>

                Ain't it the truth! One friend is -- maybe-- a size 4, and she can outeat a hearty trucker! I once made what I thought was plenty of food, thinking the Mr. and I would have leftovers the next night. After Size 4 ate her 3rd helping, I forevermore counted her as 3 guests for estimating portions!

                And the powder room towels: one friend uses those decorative paper guest towels. Part of me think they're more sanitary than a guest towel, other part thinks slightly tacky. Opinions?

                1. re: pine time

                  Lol pine time I am very petite, jeans size 23/0, and I can easily out eat most of my friends, because they are all "watching their figures."

                  I don't think paper guest towels are tacky and I certainly use them if available, but for my own gatherings they are a bit too fussy. I guess it comes down to knowing your guests. A lot of my friends would have more of a problem with the paper guest towels being unsustainable and wasteful, than with a nice hand towel being germy. Presumably, everyone who is using the towel needs to dry their hands because they've just carefully scrubbed them with hot soapy water (or so I'd like to believe)!

                  1. re: pine time

                    I refresh towels in the guest bath once or twice during the evening, depending on how many people and how long it lasts. I have learned to have two complete sets of replacement towels tucked away and go in and change when needed.

                    1. re: jlhinwa

                      I hang them in double layers, and check them when I go to the bathroom myself during the evening.

                  2. re: mbfant

                    I was just at a party where the bathrooms had only wet/used bath towels in them. I shook off my hands really hard and them wiped them on my pants legs.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      I started nodding my head, reading this! It was exactly this scenario that had me reconsidering using those decorative paper bathroom towels.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        Were you at my SIL's? If those wet/used bath towels were circa 1970 and ratty beyond what we would even be using for shop rags....
                        Gag. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in the entertaining fails department. And what the heck do these people dry their hands on day to day? Or maybe they just never wash their hands after using the bathroom?

                  3. Here's my party timeline:
                    1-2 months out: HEY! Wouldn't it be GREAT to have some people over? I'll invite them and it will be SO FUN!!

                    3 weeks out: I don't even know if this is going to happen, I've only heard from a few people and things are getting busy. Wondering if I should just cancel?

                    1 week out: Now EVERYONE is suddenly coming, which is great, but.... I have to rethink the food! And if x is bringing y, she's vegetarian and he's lactose intolerant and everything I had thought of had meat and/or cheese so.... to Chowhound to beg for recipe ideas!

                    2 days out: UGH! This week got so busy, I'm so stressed, why are these people coming over and the house is a mess and now I have to go to 4 different markets to get everything and OH NO! I need chairs!

                    Day of: IHATETHISWHATWASITHINKINGNOTHINGISCLEANISTHATBOILINGWASTHISRUGALWAYSDIRTYWHEREISTHEICE?!!!!

                    During: Smiling! Chatting! [Internal monologue: get out of the kitchen! Is the music right? People ate all of the cheese and none of the crackers? DAMNIT still not enough ice! Seriously, get out of the kitchen. Did I start the desserts? Refill the nuts! How did I forget nuts?! Will everyone hate this because there are no nuts?! SMILE! LAUGH! Introduce people! Refill the drinks! Refill the dips! MAKE MORE DIP!]

                    After: How the hell did someone get a cocktail wiener behind the couch? Is that one of my flower vases with half of a martini in it?

                    Next day: Thank GD that's over! Oh, thanks for calling, you had fun? Oh good!

                    Next week: HEY! Wouldn't it be great to have some people over?!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: hyacinthgirl

                      Ha!

                      I once read an excerpt from an interview with a woman who had a reputation for always being a gracious host whom everyone loved and thought a lot of.

                      Her take? She felt that everyone always took advantage of here and that she never got what SHE wanted because she was always so busy pleasing others.

                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                        LOL! This sounds a bit like the party I had in high school where I threw out an "after the football game" invite to 4 people 1 week before the football game - and representatives of 4 colleges and 7 high schools showed up. Luckily, my Mom was very understanding. :-)

                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                            Thanks hyacinthgirl! This post made my day. It's almost eerie how similar it is to my party timeline. Down to the menu adjustment scramble and the "people ate all of the cheese and none of the crackers?" dismay. I adore throwing parties but they can definitely be stressful crazy-making! It's nice to know I'm not the only one on the party roller coaster.

                            BTW- your parties sound like they are awesome.

                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                              Your day of statement hits the mark for me. Who are these people and whatever made me invite them?

                            2. Thanks everyone for the replies. I guess the issues we had are pretty common. It was definitely hard to relax and enjoy the party with a million things bouncing around in my head. Or maybe it was just too much wine :)

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Reston

                                I don't entertain much anymore because we have a little one who doesn't sleep well with noise, but I was an event planner for several years and the skills you learn doing that really help when planning even the smallest party. As someone pointed out before, write things down that you learned, keep a party planning timeline and checkboxes and the whole 9. Yes, it's very expensive and a big PITA.

                                1. re: Reston

                                  I'm sure you did fine. I read once that wine & friends makes the party fun; everything else is gravy. :-) It does get easier and as everyone said above, don't sweat the things you forgot.

                                  One small tip I haven't seen mentioned yet, to get people to congregate somewhere else, put food in that somewhere else.

                                  1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                    Good point, Munchie. Setting up a buffet table outside the kitchen, as well as putting out Scooby Snack bowls elsewhere will hopefully get them out of the kitchen.

                                    1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                      Or do what I've done, when I still have stuff to do in the kitchen and people are congregating in there and getting in my hair: Bellow "okay, everyone needs to get out of here NOW. THANKS."

                                      My parties are not exactly formal affairs,

                                      1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                        One of the best pieces of advice I ever got is to put the hors d'oeuvres in one room and the wine in another, so guests move around (or show their true colors!).

                                    2. My lesson learned over the years: simplify, simplify, simplify. I plan menus that I can pre-prepare and freeze--saves so many last minute hassles. I've cut down on the number of dishes, as well. I put out all the empty serving containers with a Post-It to remind me what goes in. Even do Post-Its on the food items, or in your case, wine-opener ("don't forget the white"). Mr. Pine cleans the house, and I just don't look closely enough to critique, 'cause I know I'd re-do 1/2 of it.

                                      I do shoo people out of my kitchen, but since I've done so much in advance, I mostly just have to pop in there and out to check on the reheating.

                                      Or else: call up for pizza and eat on the patio!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: pine time

                                        I've held parties up to 35 by myself for years. I first make up a guest list, then a menu. I try to limit it to one main dish, a couple of sides, a salad, and a dessert. Wine & beer, water, 2 kinds of sodas. I've only had one guest in 40 years of entertaining who asked for Perrier! I offered her club soda, she turned up her nose. Oh well, she was a girlfriend of a guest, not "real" company!

                                        My contribution to this discussion is: make a timeline. List everything you're going to need, including serving dishes & utensils. Divide the supplies into things that can be bought ahead of time, and items that can be prepared ahead and how far out. For example, pie crusts can be made a month in advance and the balls frozen, and put "thaw" on your list for two days before. Silver can be polished the same weekend that you make the pie crusts. Continue your list: week out, four days, three, two, night before, morning of.

                                        For me, having the timeline is critical the day of the party. I figure out when we'll eat, and back up everything from there. I keep checking my watch to keep on schedule: if asparagus needs to go in the oven at 4:50, I try to be no more than 10 minutes off. I don't have a good memory anymore, and can get distracted by wine or chatting. Then nobody eats on time.

                                        All my guests ask what they can bring, as do I when going to a party. Ask for appetizers and desserts. It helps a lot. I still have backups on hand anyway, but not as much.

                                        People ALWAYS gather in the kitchen. It limits your movement, can be dangerous and they don't eat the appetizers. I've experimented and find that putting the bar in another room helps, and if a large crowd in several rooms. I've got a few large containers that I fill with ice and stick wine, sodas, water in them. People can self-serve.

                                        I like to give people jobs. The first guys in the door get the strings of lights to put on the tree, man the barbeque, or slice the ham, etc. I only serve buffet style to keep life simpler.

                                        And for me, since I'm pooped and possibly buzzed, I clean up in the morning when I won't drop or break anything. Stuff can soak overnight. If I'm only having 6-8 over, I'll probably load the dishwasher and rinse the pots, but I find in the a.m. I will re-wash the pots anyway since I didn't scour them.

                                        Now that I'm married, we divide and conquer. I do all the cooking and cleaning, he plays host and keeps people occupied.

                                        And, if you have a kitchen disaster, there's always pizza delivery!

                                        1. re: blaireso

                                          +1 on not washing glasses before you go to bed -- I pour a little water in all the wine glasses to keep from having to scrub crusted wine out of my good glasses.

                                          I do at least stage stuff...stack plates, dump silverware in a pitcher of soapy water...stuff that doesn't take a whole lot of time or coordination.

                                      2. We do small scale entertaining a lot in the summer, and I've really learned how to make it enjoyable for me!

                                        I have the house completely cleaned the day before, complete most of my food prep the night before, pull out all the glassware and serving utensils the day before.
                                        Morning of, set up serving area with table cloths, set up bar, stack plates/napkins/silverware.

                                        By the time the party is 4 hours out, finish last minute food touches, load coolers with ice, get my shower done.
                                        Two hours out, vaccuum, quick refresh of the bathrooms, unload the (already run) dishwasher. (nothing worse than a sink full of dishes because the DW hasn't been run and unloaded).
                                        One hour before, complete hair and makeup, get dressed, feed the dogs. (I've thrown more than one party where I've been makeup-less and barefoot - not fun!).
                                        30 minutes before, pour a glass of wine for me, preheat the oven, light the candles, get the stereo started.

                                        I work from a detailed list, and start food prep as early as possible in the week, usually Tuesday night for a Saturday party. I don't do any food prep the day of, except for arranging trays, plates, whatever. If it can't be completely prepped the day ahead, I don't serve it. Even lettuce for the salad is washed, packed in paper towels into a ziplock bag the day before.
                                        It's taken me a long time to get to this point, but leaving the day of the party for just setting up the house, etc., has made a HUGE difference for me.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                                          I'm with you completely. I also try to schedule time for me to put my feet up for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. That also will partially drive the menu--go lasagna!

                                        2. The non-RSVP thing irks me. Unless it's an open house where you can drop by whenever, people need to RSVP!

                                          The rest is just lots of lists. Down to specific lists as to what day something needs to be done.

                                          And relaxing and enjoying your own party is key - things won't get done; you'll forget to put something out - can't be helped. The kitchen is usually a hotbed of activity, so unless it's tiny, I like having people in there to talk to. I now have a galley kitchen with open doorways into both the living and dining rooms, so it would allow for someone to be in either room and still talk with me.

                                          1. My husband and I used to do large wine and cheese parties which were great but tons of work. Over the years, we have scaled down our parties to sit down dinners for 6, though we are having 8 guests next month, which is a first. Even the smaller dinners are a lot of work. As others mentioned, it gets easier over time. Just curious Reston, how old are you and your partner, if you don't mind my asking? I know personally I have learned a lot over the years. My parties, cooking, entertaining style, etc. have changed drastically in the last 20 years or so.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                              ttoommyy, we're both in our 40s. We've had smaller gatherings in the past, but I think this time it just hit me how much work is involved. Pulling together a party for 20+ seems much harder than having a small gathering of 6-8.

                                              1. re: Reston

                                                "Pulling together a party for 20+ seems much harder than having a small gathering of 6-8."

                                                Yes it is. Which is exactly why we only do dinner parties for 6-8. :)

                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                  I'm the oddball who thinks it's the reverse. With 20+ I accept that I can't control everything and someone's going to be disappointed and I don't stress about it. Just put out a lot of food, a lot of drinks, good music and some activities/conversation items and leave it to my guests to entertain each other.
                                                  With a small 6-8 group, I feel personally responsible and accountable for each individual's experience and get much more stressed if someone seems uninterested, unsatisfied, etc.

                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                    No, Hyacinthgirl, I was hesitating to post the same thing -- I figured I was the only one.

                                                    There's kind of a baseline of time and trouble in my eyes -- it's not *that* much more work to feed 20 than it is to feed 8 - -and all the work surrounding it is about equal.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      " it's not *that* much more work to feed 20 than it is to feed 8 - -and all the work surrounding it is about equal."

                                                      Personally I disagree. It is much more work to cook for 20 than for 8. I guess it really depends on what one is serving. But that is just my opinion.

                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                        <I guess it really depends on what one is serving>

                                                        That has also been my experience.

                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                        "Just put out a lot of food, a lot of drinks, good music and some activities/conversation items and leave it to my guests to entertain each other."

                                                        Again, this is all subjective. What you describe is not everyone's idea of a party. "Just put[ting] out a lot of food" may satisfy some, but I could never just make "a lot of food" and be happy with that. To each his own.

                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                          I don't mean 50 orders of McDonalds french fries ;)
                                                          But yes, to each his own. When I have a lot of people, I tend towards mostly food that will not need a lot of last minute flair, so that I can prepare a lot of it in advance.
                                                          I love making food for people, so the food is mostly all made by me (I'll purchase good bread or maybe some specialized desserts). But the types of food I make and serve for 20+ will differ somewhat from the foods for 6-8. Unfortunately my current situation doesn't allow me to serve lobster for 30. Maybe next year?

                                              2. Agreed. Hosting is hard work and expensive, too. But I love big parties and host several a year.
                                                Here's a tip from my late mother: When you have six people over, clean the house. If you have 20, people won't notice the house. (Bathrooms and kitchen excepted.)
                                                My style is to have everything done before the first guest arrives so that I can kick back and enjoy.
                                                My guiding principle is that I provide the place, the food, the introductions and leave the rest to my guests.
                                                Accept that something will go wrong but remember that those errors always make the best stories.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ola

                                                  heh - I've accepted that I will forget to serve one item, every single time.

                                                  It won't be the same item twice, because I'm paying attention to the last one...but there will always be one forlorn bowl sitting in the kitchen because it was forgotten.

                                                2. My theory is, get everything done before the first guest arrives, so you can be a real host. If you didn't get to it, it must not have been that important. And bathrooms aside, the rest of the house is going to be a mess afterwards anyway so don't go too crazy.

                                                  My list starts a week or so before, keeps getting condensed daily and then finally, the day of, I'll probably get up at 5AM (not a big deal, I'm an earlybird) and have an hourly list right up to the party's start. You just have to learn to let things go, your attitude is the most important thing, not necesarily the food and drinks. And a drink for the host just before everyone arrives isn't a bad idea.

                                                  1. It is hard work! But I love that moment when you look around at all these people enjoying themselves, so it's always worth it to me.

                                                    I agree with so many here: sometimes you have to let things go. It's okay if you forget one of the apps or that you don't have every single mixer or you don't put on the playlist you carefully crafted. This past Christmas season I was literally reminding myself that the party was not going to suck because I only had two types of meatballs, not the four I had originally planned.

                                                    Have enough toilet paper. Have a lot of booze. Have food. Invite fun people. All the rest, many times, ends up being more for the host than the guests...

                                                    Once I learned to let go I started having as much fun as my guests.

                                                    1. Everything said above! After our large big bash, we had a ton of food left over because I was having a ball and forgot/didn't want to heat, dish, serve. I kicked myself a dozen times and then realized my friends would've piped up if they were hungry (admittedly, others' friends may not be so forthcoming). So: lots of lists, and no worries. And you get better at it.

                                                      1. Ever since I hosted my first dinner party, where I invited 10, 8 said they would come, and only 4 showed up, I haven't hosted another one since. I spent all day preparing for it and was really pretty depressed when only 4 people bothered to come. I'm glad those 4 came at least, and we had a good time. But I have a hard time spending all that money and putting in all that work if people are going to flake out.

                                                        SO and I have people over, but it's usually to watch sports and it's very casual, come and go as you please kind of thing, and others always bring food to share in addition to the few things I make. I prefer that sort of thing much better.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                          I've gotten to where I have no compunctions about calling people and asking if they're coming or not the day before I'm headed out to do the shopping (fortunately our friends are generally good about RSVPing.). I'm going to a not-inconsiderable amount of time, trouble and money -- the least you can do is call me or send me an email or sms to just say yes or no.

                                                          We have one friend who is genetically incapable of planning anything more than 5 minutes into the future -- I don't call her, because she always shows up, so I just automatically count her.

                                                        2. I love hosting parties. I hesitate to call them "dinner parties" because they are hardly formal affairs. Our table is usually lined, buffet-style, with food that guests can pile their plates full of and then eat in the living room, since our kitchen and table are not very big and we have had upwards of 15 people over at a time. I don't do courses; usually I'll have some snacks out for when people arrive, but then we go straight to dinner whenever it's ready.

                                                          One thing I have learned to do is to ask people to RSVP. And I will go so far as to "hound" people if I don't hear from the by about 2 weeks before the event. I hate to do that but it does help me get a semi-accurate count of who to expect. I always make a ton of food anyway though so we have never run out.

                                                          I also go so far as to make a list of when to start certain dishes and what pans/appliances they will be using up, so I don't accidentally "double-book" (like needing my dutch oven for both potatoes AND ham or something.)

                                                          1. Yes - a lot of hard work, and sometimes, it goes completely unrewarded, but such is life.

                                                            We still love to host, but not as much, as we once did.

                                                            Hunt

                                                            16 Replies
                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              Nah, not unrewarded -- I have all my friends around me, everyone's talking and laughing and eating -- it's good.

                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                My reward is the house is (relatively) clean for a change, and since I always have leftovers, I get a break from cooking for the next few days. Well that and the memories of me creating a good time for all are priceless. But as Hunt says, can't handle doing it as much as I once did; a few times a year is fine by me!

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  LOL. The running joke in my house is it's a good thing we invite people over; otherwise the house might never get cleaned!

                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                      Actually I've been known to plan a party just to force myself to clean the house!

                                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                                        This is precisely why I've invited a friend over for drinks tomorrow. And why I should not be on chowhound right now.

                                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                                          Yes, it is so easy to be distracted from cleaning. Draw the blinds, light dimly and give the kitchen and bathrooms a slosh ;)

                                                                          As I learned from CH a few years ago: they are coming for the food, drink and friendship. They are not coming for a home inspection.

                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                            I feel like there are a few that do come for home inspection though......not that they are often invited!

                                                                            1. re: gaffk

                                                                              My mother inspects. Which is one reason she is seldom invited. My house is kept fairly clean and mostly picked up, but I don't care to open myself to the stress and criticism, spoken or "un".

                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                <My mother inspects>

                                                                                Your mother actually inspects the cleanliness of your home?
                                                                                Ugh...That kind of judgement isn't worth the visit.

                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                  She doesn't say anything, but she's doing it. She does it to everyone behind their backs.

                                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                                  Ugh. My mom's mother was apparently one of those. She favored my aunt's perfectly clean home, though not the cooking and baking. My cousins (aunt's kids) and I preferred mom's house--the blinds weren't always clean, but the cooked and baked goods were delicious. And she let all of us kids participate.

                                                                                  This topic came up at last Christmas' dinner. The majority preferred dirty blinds and a tasty dinner.

                                                                                  ETA: My skin has grown thick with age. Even the "inspecting" cousin, who inherited that gene, is welcome. Water off a duck's back.

                                                                              1. re: westernmeadowlark

                                                                                As we grow older, we become more tolerant, and choose to see the humor in situations. I no longer give a rat's a-- if my house is clean, and if I burn something, oh well. But if I leave the house without my list I have to go home.

                                                                                If the turkey slides off the platter in the kitchen, flip the thing back on and serve it with panache!

                                                                                1. re: blaireso

                                                                                  "If the turkey slides off the platter in the kitchen, flip the thing back on and serve it with panache!"

                                                                                  Panache? Do you have a recipe? :)

                                                                        2. at this point i have had enough parties that the worst part is the cleaning up beforehand.

                                                                          for the "party" part, i have a number of formulas for parties of 6 to seven people.
                                                                          i have a collection of about 30 "party" recipes that don't involve a lot of separate cooking steps, that don't involve ingredients that require shopping at a million stores to get them all, and that are reliable and forgiving (i.e. if they don't get served at exactly the right moment, their quality is still good. most can be served anywhere between hot and room temperature and still be ok)..
                                                                          shopping list already developed for each recipe.
                                                                          once the menu is decided upon, i just put the appropriate shopping lists in the car.

                                                                          the day of the party i pull out all the dishes and silverware and pitchers and glasses that we will be using. as soon as a guest asks, "can i help?" i immediately assign them the task of setting the table.

                                                                          for the clean up, i load the dishwasher once, and leave the rest of it for the next day. i never let my guests help with any clean up. (idiosyncracy of mine).

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                            Yeah the cleaning beforehand is the only thing I hate really. If I could afford to hire a cleaning service, I'd be the hostess with the mostest!

                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                              You are my organizational god! I do the same thing, but I don't have them all on file except for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. I have those menus broken out into shopping lists, and what needs to be done two weeks out, one week out, four days out, etc. Like you, I also pull out the serving dishes and utensils to make sure they're all there and clean. Most important is my timetable for The Day, which gets stuck on the refrigerator door so I don't lose track visiting with everyone.

                                                                              My only obstacle is my cats, who insist on helping--always once the table is set! So, that tends to get done quite late on the day of, lol.

                                                                              I have an old cookbook called, "Never In The Kitchen When Company Arrives" that I got as a young bride. Boy was it a help.

                                                                            2. If you throw the same basic type of party (ie/ cocktail open house in this case?) over and over again, it does become routine. I've learned where to scale back in my prep, when to outsource (everybody loves the local spanakopita cigars I pick up), who will definitely show up and who is less reliable so don't work around their special diet, etc, etc.
                                                                              Remember that your guests want you to have fun too and will be more relaxed if you are - so yes, have all the food out from the beginning, self-serve drinks, etc! Most of my friends want to bring their own beer and help themselves anyway.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                absolutely! The biggest parties of my year (Thanksgiving and 4th of July) have become easy, just because I'm so used to doing it.

                                                                              2. Ah the dreaded kitchen migration!

                                                                                In my attempt to keep the party in my LR/DR I set up food and drinks in those rooms. A "wine bar" on the credenza right inside the front hall holds a couple of open bottles of red, bottles of white in an ice bucket, glasses, cocktail napkins, corkscrew and some "nibbles' (usually salted nuts). I get the fireplace roaring before the first guest arrives.

                                                                                On the DR sideboard: a bar for self-serve mixed drinks, and an ice tub full of bottled water/beer. Bottle opener, more napkins and glasses.

                                                                                For a wine and cheese open house, apps go on the dining table, along with small plates and napkins(can you tell I believe in many napkins at a party?).

                                                                                The kitchen migration may still happen, but only late in the evening after many guests have left and everyone has had a few drinks. It often feels more like a mini party after the party.

                                                                                1. I feel your pain Reston and you summed it up perfectly!

                                                                                  I had a Christmas party a couple of months ago for my cul de sac neighbors, whom I adore and we all get along great and have drinks throughout the year but hosting somehow threw a monkey wrench into the mix that I was not expecting whatsoever.

                                                                                  First of all, like you stated, cleaning your home, which I am a clean freak with my home but with others congregating in your home, you want it clean like the President is coming over..

                                                                                  Second, having app's that don't fail and hold up through the 2-4 hours..#majorfail on my part.

                                                                                  My triple cream brie that I microwaved a couple seconds too long become a hockey puck with the knife hardened into it..
                                                                                  That become a viral hit..damn you iphones!
                                                                                  Still laughing our asses off on that one..

                                                                                  Guests do end up in the kitchen and plenty of wine and good laughs trump all but it was a learning lesson for me, since my dinner parties are a no brainers and flow without a hitch..thought the same mentality would follow but friends vs neighbors are different animals.

                                                                                  What the hell is wrong with people not RSVP...come on folks, its not that hard to text a yes or no.

                                                                                  The party was a success and I have incredible neighbors but I was a wreck for days afterwards..

                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                    <you want it clean like the President is coming over>

                                                                                    Boy, does that ring a bell.
                                                                                    I had 2 guests to our home last week and spent the week before having every conceivable thing done to the house to make it sparkle, inside and out. I knew before I did it that nobody would be going into the linen closet but it had to be perfect. It would be dark while they were in my home but those tiles around the pool needed to be pressure washed.
                                                                                    Just in case one of them got on their hands and knees and inspected the floor, the floor needed to be polished.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      LOL..
                                                                                      I even cleaned out my 'junk drawer' in case, by chance, it was opened by mistake.
                                                                                      Sad but funny.

                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                        <cleaned out my 'junk drawer', in case...>

                                                                                        I've been known to go as far as cleaning out and reorganizing the garage....until I realized this bordered on certifiable craziness.
                                                                                        I think my grandmother began this compulsion with me when I was beginning to drive my car...
                                                                                        "Don't get caught anywhere with less than perfectly, clean, beautiful lingerie" was her favorite advice to me.
                                                                                        Now I figured I have it all covered.

                                                                                      2. re: latindancer

                                                                                        I am not all that obsessive about cleaning, but I will admit that one reason I prefer to give parties in the winter is that it is less likely that any missed spots will be noticed....

                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                          Dim lighting or candle-light is also forgiving! :)

                                                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                                                          Whenever my SO's parents come to visit that's what I do. Her home is very clean (she has a cleaner once a week and works about 30 hours a week)) so I feel like mine has to be the same (even though I work full time plus 2 hours of commuting each day, and do not have a cleaner). I even wash the dog.

                                                                                          My mom is way messier than I am so with her, I tidy up but I know she doesn't care :)

                                                                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                            Your approach to the SO's 'rents is about like mine with the inlaws. The thing is mom in law is not a good housekeeper, but will inspect every single thing. Luckily, they live quite far away and I only need to host them once a year.
                                                                                            Other than that, I love to entertain, and hold it to 6-8 guests. I mostly do a variety of apps and finger foods and remain surprisingly relaxed considering the inlaws drive me to wonder every year if actually need something more than alcohol to calm me down, like a tranquilizer dart--haha!

                                                                                          2. re: latindancer

                                                                                            I do that kind of thing too, but just taking advantage of the adrenaline that doesn't always flow so freely.

                                                                                          3. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                            I used to torture myself (and Mr. jlh) having my house spotless for guests, then finally had the epiphany that when I go to someone else's home, the only thing I notice is if there is something particularly nasty or distasteful, which of course is very rare. So now I just focus on having spotless bathrooms and kitchen food prep surfaces, but don't worry much about anything else. Yes, it must be tidy looking but I don't vacuum or dust or sweep or do anything special outside of the bathrooms and kitchen. I do have a house cleaner that comes and does a thorough cleaning every two weeks so I know it can't get too bad, but I just don't want to spend the time fretting about having it perfect anymore.

                                                                                            As a result, I am a much more relaxed and fun hostess and I usually enjoy my own parties a great deal.

                                                                                          4. My sister has started doing something worth every penny she spend on it. She hires a gal to come in during and after the party. Gal replenishes plates on the buffet, keeps drinks available, picks up abandoned plates & drink glasses, cleans up the kitchen, and my sister is able to enjoy her guests without the massive 'duties' of a harried hostess.
                                                                                            Several of the women in her circle of friends use this lady. I do not know where she got her 'training'.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Nanzi

                                                                                              Actually, I remember doing exactly that several times when I was in high school. I didn't do drinks, obviously, but I did pick up plates, serve apps, replenish the buffet, help with dishes, etc....The advantage to hiring a high school student is that they probably will work more cheaply, especially if you throw some food in the mix. I enjoyed doing it (it was fun to people watch, and I don't mind kitchen work). I even picked up a few party ideas and a recipe or two! Ask your friends if they know any good candidates.....

                                                                                              1. re: janetofreno

                                                                                                My friend self-catered her wedding but went on Craig's List to get a couple of servers/preppers for the event. She ended up with culinary students so that would be another place to look (ie/ hospitality training schools).

                                                                                            2. Am I the only one who does the major cleaning after the party? OK, the bathrooms and kitchen are spotless but I do not get crazy about the floors, windows, etc. Low light, candles and a lot of fun mask the streaky windows and dust bunnies. Pour some more wine and enjoy your guests -- that's why you invited them.
                                                                                              Full disclosure: many years ago, when MIL announced her intention to visit the following day (!), I leapt from bed and spent the entire night scrubbing and cooking. I've learned a lot in the intervening years and would not dream of doing anything so stupid again. The house was perfect and I was a wreck. Lesson learned.

                                                                                              Yes, as all the veterans have already said, it does get easier. Give yourself a break, we all forget something. It is not a hill to die on. As long as it isn't your only course in the trash, you can make the best of it. Yesterday, I was at a luncheon and thoroughly enjoyed the appetizer, lovely salad and delicious soup (I passed on dessert). It wasn't until we were all finished eating, sitting back, pouring another glass of wine that our hostess mentioned that she had burned the individual pizzas she'd planned. "Patent leather pizzas" were not on her wish list! No one batted an eye, we were unfazed and thrilled with what we'd already been served.

                                                                                              Reston, you've been given some marvelous tips in this thread. Please don't let your first experience sour you on having friends over to the house. Also, cut yourself some slack - it will never be "shelter magazine" perfect. That isn't real life, it is staged. I'm not perfect, my friends are imperfect as well and we love getting together and enjoying one another's company. If the silver is tarnished it is no big deal. The uber picky people need not attend a second time.

                                                                                              This past Sunday, we decided to have some people over after an afternoon concert. I didn't have a firm grasp on the numbers, especially since I added to the guest list at the concert. I'd made several large pots of soup which waited obligingly, a large focaccia, cheese platter and hoped this would work for whomever showed up -- 12-20 was my guess.
                                                                                              Yep. We had a wonderful supper, enjoyed each other's company and played great music. There was a bit of soup, just enough focaccia and some cheese left at the end of the evening. Because of good organization and advance planning/cooking there was zero stress on this hostess and a good time was had by all. House was clean by Tuesday.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                <enjoy your guests---that's why you invited them>

                                                                                                I don't think anyone's insinuating they're not enjoying their guests after working all day on the house and cooking.
                                                                                                I feel pretty lucky, along with some of the other people I know who share my compulsion. So far I've been able to do it all and be head-over-heels excited about my guests being in my home and managed to have energy to spare.

                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                  Concur..
                                                                                                  I so enjoy my guests company and that is why I've invited them..being OCD about cleaning my home has nothing to do with my good time.
                                                                                                  I have my drumset in my great room and kitchen and I have enough energy to play a few sets...it's my version of everyone gathering around the piano.

                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                    Now, THAT sounds like a great party !!

                                                                                              2. I've enjoyed reading everyone's tales about hosting. It makes me think it can be done smoothly with some extra planning, or at least it won't seem so overwhelming when things go off-track.

                                                                                                The comments about cleaning have got me wondering if maybe our living room was TOO clean, and that's what was keeping people out of there. We have fairly new furniture, and off-white carpeting. My mother calls it 'the lobby'. Could it be people didn't want to mess it up, and felt more comfortable in the kitchen?

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Reston

                                                                                                  it's possible - but I also find that the "hanging out in the kitchen" syndrome is a compliment -- they want to hang out with *you*, and your kitchen is a homey, nice place to hang out.

                                                                                                  1. re: Reston

                                                                                                    <We have fairly new furniture and off-white carpeting.>

                                                                                                    My home is very 'lived-in'. As much as I clean there's a sense of homeyness and comfort. I love people hanging out in the kitchen. They sit/stand and talk and there's really nothing formal about my entertaining unless it's meant to be that way.
                                                                                                    I once knew a woman whose inside of her home was all white. Everything from the carpet to the towels was white. She even had plastic runners from room to room so the carpet would stay white. One crumb of bread under the dining room table stood out like a sore thumb. Going to the home for dinner was nerve wracking.

                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                      I have owned white furniture -- when it was just me and the cat.

                                                                                                      I got white furniture out of my system -- and it was a good thing -- by the time husband/kids/dog came along, that furniture wasn't even remotely white.

                                                                                                    2. re: Reston

                                                                                                      We used to host parties for over 75 people for a group we belonged to. Pot luck, plus all the unnecessary extras I felt compelled to make. Everyone hangs out near the kitchen and it's difficult to work around them, not to mention dangerous with hot dishes being removed from the stove or oven. One friend drove me crazy since he'd stake out a position where he could lean on the kitchen counter directly in front of the refrigerator.

                                                                                                      What we did was to set up stations for the bar, appetizers, main dishes and sides, and desserts. All the guys gravitate to the bar and appetizers, which could be as little as one end of the dining table or on the patio. My suggestion would be to set out all the appetizers on the living room coffee table, together with napkins and coasters if you want them. If you have a pass-through or bar, or even just set out a card table, put glasses and wine and the drinks on them. If this is an afternoon barbeque, get a cooler full of ice and put drinks in there on the patio and set out appetizers near seating inside and out. If you make it easy to help themselves you can draw people to the area you want. People want to be with you, so expect some to hang in the kitchen. If you need them out of the way, give them a job so they feel included.

                                                                                                    3. We host about 2 holiday dinners each year and a large-ish July 4th party. But when I say "we", that really means "me". My husband is there and I assign him tasks on the day of the event, but I do all the planning and organizing. It is hard work, tiring, expensive...but I love when people eat my food!

                                                                                                      The best thing for me is to keep a spreadsheet. When I start planning the menu, I list all the dishes on the spreadsheet. Then as I finalize the menu, I make a shopping list. I divide it into items that can be bought ahead of time and items that needs to be bought in the week or days before. This is all done in Excel so I can just update as I shop and plan.

                                                                                                      Then I list next to each dish when it has to go in the oven or be taken out of the refrigerator if it is to be served at room temp. I include times and temps.

                                                                                                      My husband thinks I am nuts! But it works for me. The day of the dinner or party, I keep my menu handy. It keeps me from forgetting to cook foods or heat them up!

                                                                                                      The other big point for me is to serve lots of foods that can be cooked or mostly prepared ahead of time. I can't be standing at the stove sauteeing something while people are congregating in my kitchen!

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: valerie

                                                                                                        Valerie, I almost had to read that twice to make sure I wasn't posting in my sleep or something. I do every single thing exactly as you detailed.

                                                                                                        Hubby is really good about helping keep drinks filled, carrying serving trays, etc., etc. We've gotten pretty good as a pair at handling 35-50 people without a hitch.

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          Another hyper-planner/organizer here too. It's partly because it helps me stay on track but more because frankly, I like the planning stage. I also take note of what serving vessel I'll use for each dish.

                                                                                                          Another important step: having lunch delivered. When we are really frantic it's too easy to skip eating and getting crabby (or worse, hitting the bar on an empty stomach).

                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                            Yes, I add the serving dish info too as it gets closer to the event!

                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                              After cooking all day, I find that I am never hungry, because I have been enveloped in food all day, even though I have not eaten much. After too many experiences hitting the bar at my own party with an empty stomach (and too many experiences of the consequences of this!), one of my DH's jobs now, usually completed on the run for ice, is to go to McDonalds and get me a cheeseburger. Even if I am not hungry, I can ALWAYS eat a cheeseburger!! The next day clean up (with a raging hangover) has always been a lot more palatable since then!!

                                                                                                          2. re: valerie

                                                                                                            I do the same thing. And list the serving dish and utensil needed in another column. For me, it's reassuring to know that I've covered all the bases and can then relax.

                                                                                                            And I agree, serve nothing that needs last minute prep until you're comfortable with the entire process. Keep the menu simple, something you've cooked before, consider flavor, color, texture. Maybe one dish will include several elements like protein and vegetable or starch. I like doing something I can prep well in advance, even the day before, and put in the oven to bake or reheat. I have a programmable oven, so I take out the lasagna/whatever and put it in the oven an hour before everyone arrives, and it turns itself on. I just check my watch and make sure it's all working as planned.

                                                                                                            Find a great dip or appetizer like bruschetta that you can prep ahead of time and guests can serve themselves. Have a simple dessert or make something ahead of time that you can leave in the refrigerator or on the counter. Have a salad made in a baggie and the dressing in a jar, assign someone to toss for you and slice a loaf of crusty bread. Light candles and smile, you're done!

                                                                                                          3. Maybe home entertaining just isn't for you. That's perfectly fine. Host at a restaurant or use a caterer.

                                                                                                            I mean, come on, if I understand this correctly, you hosted a party with white wine and one hunk of cheese. : D

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: thegforceny

                                                                                                              LOL! I re-read my original post, and it does sound like we only served one kind of cheese and red wine. We actually had quite a lot of food, including shrimp, chicken salad, blue cheese and fig appetizers, veggie plate, lots of olives, french bread, cupcakes and two kinds of cocktail meatballs. I think the cheese got overlooked because we were so focused on the other things.

                                                                                                              We drink red wine 90% of the time, and the white wine is kept in a small wine fridge in the basement. We each thought the other person was going to get it, and put it out with the reds. Oops. We didn't even notice until the party was over, and saw the empty bottles of white wine that people had brought with them. Now we have 8 bottles of white wine that were never opened. I guess they can last until summer when we drink white wine out on the patio.

                                                                                                              Live and learn...

                                                                                                              1. re: Reston

                                                                                                                Or you could just throw another party this month to go through that white wine. :)

                                                                                                                FYI: If the company was interesting enough and the wine and cheese decent, I'd be fine, though possibly a bit surprised, with a one type of wine and one type of cheese party.

                                                                                                            2. I'm nursing a broken foot, DH had a stroke last month, the cleaning lady did a bunk three weeks ago, but we're having friends over tomorrow night. Pizza delivery, think I can manage the lovely Spinach/Date Salad from "Jerusalem," folks are bringing dessert and drinks. House is a real mess, but don't think folks will mind. With good friends, any party works.

                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                Very true, pika. Enjoy your party, and hope both you and your DH heal quickly!

                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                  After a stroke, the best thing you can do is get back to normal (even if only "new normal") as quickly as possible. Best thing, people will cut you a lot of slack. You'll see!

                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                    Oh, my, both of you heal well, please!

                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                      Thank you. Party was a grand success. Good pizza, killer salad from Jerusalem, someone's fresh oatmeal cookies, some tasty wine and beer. Everyone helped clean up, then we sat around and spent an hour so on "remember when...?" topics. Great fun, not a lot of work.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                        Hopefully it's true that laughter is the best medicine!

                                                                                                                        Glad you had fun.

                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                          So glad it went well and you enjoyed yourself!

                                                                                                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                        <With good friends, any party works>

                                                                                                                        So true.

                                                                                                                        I Hope your broken foot heels promptly and your DH gains strength and good health.

                                                                                                                      3. For a variety of reasons my wife and I have dropped out of the entertainment circle. Both in hosting and going to others. Life got busy and it was too easy to fall into the work and home, work and home. By the weekend we were both too exhausted to want to leave home. Add in a few divorces (other peoples), some good friends moving away and, well, it's been 5 or 6 years since we hosted an event.

                                                                                                                        I decided that this year we needed to make the effort to reconnect with our circle of friends and this weekend we're hosting Winter BBQ. I'll be cooking some ribs, a brisket and one small salmon on the smokers. 15 guests including me and my wife. They are all bringing a side dish and their favorite beverage. Fairly simple food for me, basically put it in the smoker and wait. Brisket will take about 7 hours, the ribs 4 and the salmon less than an hour. Still I'm nervous about the food and about seeing people I haven't spoken to in a while. I know that once every one arrives, gets a drink, that the momentum of the moment will take over and it will be fine.

                                                                                                                        It has been a lot of work to get everything ready, but I think it's a very good thing to be doing and well worth the effort. But I'll be glad once we get past the first few arrivals and the smell of food cooking is in the air and laughter and the din of conversation is underway.

                                                                                                                        jb

                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                          I like the sound of this party already, JB!

                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                            Tremendous amount of work,both physically and emotionally but a huge payoff. It really is all about how it goes that determines whether or not it was worth it. When you throw these kinds of parties you take a risk. You open yourself to criticism, expectations and hope it all goes well. This time it was very much worth it.

                                                                                                                            Here's a pic of the ribs.

                                                                                                                            jb

                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                              I can't believe ANYONE would criticize that, JB!

                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                :o) Nobody complained about the ribs. They disappeared faster than I could cut them and soon there were none. I thought I was making too much, but it all got eaten.

                                                                                                                                jb

                                                                                                                              2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                Oh, that looks absolutely incredible!

                                                                                                                            2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                              Good luck to you - you will have a great time and be happy you did it.

                                                                                                                              Hubby and I also have not entertained for a few years. Empty nest, health challenges, money issues.....clearly we need to conquer life and get back on the merry-go-round!

                                                                                                                              Cheers to you!

                                                                                                                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                It sounds like a wonderful party! Enjoy!

                                                                                                                              2. I used to host fancy pants parties like yours, but it's A LOT of work, and I can't enjoy myself because I'm always paranoid that something will go wrong. And this is with just 8-10 people!

                                                                                                                                Nowadays when we host parties, we do something more hands-on, like a gyoza party. I just make the filling, and when guests arrive we wrap them while sipping beer, then pan fry them on our electric griddle. We do this with okonomiyaki, hot pot, and korean bbq too. All I have to worry about is cleaning the house, some prep, and that the rice cooker is on!

                                                                                                                                1. 1. If you must have a party, be your most obsessional and do EVERYTHING ahead of time. Do not serve ANYTHING that takes last-minute attention eg a broiled meat.
                                                                                                                                  2. If you are setting up food in the kitchen, leave a place for drinks to be fixed so the drink person doesn't get in the way of the food person..
                                                                                                                                  3. Clean the bathrooms and the telephones.
                                                                                                                                  4. Write a list of every single food and drink you plan to serve and keep it in your face so you consult it constantly. It is maddening to have bought and/or prepared something special that you forget to set out.
                                                                                                                                  5. Forget the idea that you are going to relax and enjoy your guests. You may, but probably not before around 2 AM. Before that you are going to be WORKING.

                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                    <Forget the idea that you are going to relax and enjoy your guests,>

                                                                                                                                    I just don't agree with this.
                                                                                                                                    Whether I've hosted (2) or (250) I've always found a way to relax from the moment they enter my home to the time they go home.
                                                                                                                                    Over the years I've become aware of what I'm capable of accomplishing on my own. I will never concede that 'not enjoying' my guests is an option. Why would I invite them to my home if I'm not going to enjoy them?
                                                                                                                                    I can easily cook and entertain a certain number and still enjoy them the entire time. Above a certain number then I'll hire help and delegate. Whatever it takes to do it, I'll do it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                      me, either.

                                                                                                                                      I entertain BECAUSE I love having my favorite people around me -- I work my ass off, but I have a good time, too.

                                                                                                                                      I try to do as much prep work as possible, but I'm really not into just taking the plastic wrap off something and plunking it on the table, cold.

                                                                                                                                      I'll sort of concede the list -- but I just jot a list of the dishes, Scotch-tape it to the front of a cabinet, and refer to in once in a while.

                                                                                                                                      Clean the *telephones*? Sorry, that one doesn't even compute for me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                        Yes, that list of the dishes is crucial. Then the marketing list is made from that list & it keeps everything so much more organized, crossing everything off the list.

                                                                                                                                        I'm still thinking about the telephone cleaning remark. It was so random. Hmmm....toilets/telephones. Which shall I clean first?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                          oh, toilets first, please-- preferably with the same cloth (ugh)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                            LOL...

                                                                                                                                            I watched a long-gone housekeeper wash my toilets with Windex. As a matter of fact, from what I could gather, I'm pretty sure the entire house was cleaned with the same cloth.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                              Kind of like a restaurant with their use-on-everything towels. Customer spill something on the floor? Wipe it up with your towel. Spot on tabletop, chair, fly on the busboy's nose? Same towel.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                          i am definitely in favor of hiring help.
                                                                                                                                          in the past i've hired my neighborhood high school students to clear and rinse dishes, wrap up leftovers, get platters onto the table, and take out the trash.
                                                                                                                                          the food preparation and the loading of the dishwasher i will always do myself.

                                                                                                                                          they are happy to get any work that isn't babysitting.
                                                                                                                                          they are thrilled to get green money cash, from someone who expects to pay a few dollars an hour over the minimum wage.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                              Actually, we do have a record player (I live with one of those vinyl-obsessed types) but I haven't had a "telephone" in my home 10 years...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                            Disagree completely. I make it a point to be relaxed, having a drink, and sitting down (at least for a little while) within the first hour. Of course, I'm still "on duty" but when I really thought about it, the running around was more for me, not really for the benefit of my guests.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                              In planning that day, I always schedule at least an hour or more to lay down or at least put my feet up. If I'm harried or too tired I won't enjoy myself, and then what's the point?

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                              "4. Write a list of every single food and drink you plan to serve and keep it in your face so you consult it constantly. It is maddening to have bought and/or prepared something special that you forget to set out."

                                                                                                                                              So right. I make my list on a 4 x 6 Post-It pad and stick it on the cupboard door next to the stove. I sometimes make a second list for my husband, but he would rather have me keep reminding him of his few chores than look at his list.

                                                                                                                                            3. Tell me about it. I just hosted dinner for my book club. Four hours before the start time someone asked on the Facebook page for the event if there would be a vegetarian option. It was Maddening, considering I had polled the whole group two weeks before to find out if everyone was ok with what I was going to serve.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: charlesbois

                                                                                                                                                At that late date, I would say, there will be if you bring it!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                  I definitely thought about saying that, but just informed them the salad, bread and wine I was serving with the main were all vegetarian!

                                                                                                                                              2. No question that hosting a party involves planning and work. But, oddly or not, entertaining is less stressful if you do it more often -- you're less likely to overlook something, equipment and supplies get stored more accessibly, the house stays cleaner... etc.

                                                                                                                                                Was there food and/or drink in the kitchen? If so, you'll never get guests out of there. Even with refreshments elsewhere, there'll still be a knot of guests in the kitchen -- but it will be smaller.