I overheard two women on a train talking about entertaining guests – at home. Come Dine With Me (the TV show) sprang to mind, as points are usually lost for a host that is barely ever out of the kitchen.
Woman 1: My husband says he wants to have some of his family round for a party but I said you know what will happen. I’ll spend the whole time in the kitchen and never get to hear what everyone has to say or join in the conversations. I’m sick of it. I’ve told him I don’t want them round. Then he says Oh I’ll help you!
Woman 2: I know what you mean, I felt the same, like the skivvy while everyone else is enjoying the evening.
It’s true. Entertaining guests can end up feeling a bit like – them having a wonderful time while you’re whizzing in and out of the kitchen like you’ve been hired for the evening. Not forgetting all the prep leading up to your guests arrival, and that’s before we even get onto all the cleaning and tidying up afterwards.
If you’re having people round and trying to keep out of the kitchen, are there any good tips you’d share? The list below might be worth considering, subject to space, number of guests, budget, notice period before arrival and the sheer will to bother. Here goes: 😌
- Cater the food in, rather than cook (some might think that’s cheating but as long as everyone enjoys the food it’s a win – you’re supporting an independent business, double win, and you get to spend more time with your guests, triple win right??) Don’t pretend you cooked the food – be honest.
- If space permits, find somewhere to set all the food up buffet style and let your guests fill their own plates at will. You only need lay the table. There are various food warmer and heated/electrical serving dish type equipment you can buy online or possibly hire.
- Set up a drinks corner or bar area with a good selection of drinks, glasses and a big ice bucket with tongs, making it easy for guests to ponder over and help themselves – add a few bottles on the table as well, but there should be no need for you to be in and out of rooms nonstop with drinks. If you need to fetch extra drinks occasionally, that’s okay.
- If you decide to cook (which is probably the less expensive option), try to cook what you can early on and keep it warm/reheat when guests arrive to save you slaving away in the kitchen while everyone’s having a lovely time. Get things organised and easy to find. Salad always tastes better made fresh though, same with fresh fruit….it never looks or tastes quite the same once it’s been sliced up and left in the fridge for a while.
- If all of the above sounds like way too much hassle, invite them for ‘take-away’ night instead, keep it simple.
- If you’re feeling fancy, don’t mind having strangers in the house and you can afford it, hire waiting staff! Or ask a friend to come over and help.
- Try to anticipate the sorts of things guests might need or ask for and have them within easy reach – like a tray of condiments, lemons/limes for drinks….
- Get some disposable food containers for guests to take away leftovers, unless you think you’ll have enough space to keep it.
- If it all still sounds like too much of a headache, just forget the food. Don’t do food. Simply invite them for drinks and nibbles only, and maybe some deserts.
Feel free to share any other tips you have in the comments – don’t keep them to yourself!
All images from free clip art sources