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It’s the end of the summer. You decide to throw your final soiree of the season. Nothing fancy, just the usual backyard barbeque menu. Chicken, hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, and the like.
You only plan to have a couple of people over, so no need to do any real planning. As the week goes on, you have invited a few more people (and some have invited themselves), but the menu is simple so it’s not a big deal. You decide to clean up a bit the night before and now you’re tired. So you’ll go to the grocery store first thing in the morning, after all, you don’t need that much.
You decide to set up the tables and put out the chairs before you head to the store. Ugh! It’s 10am already! By the time you get back from fighting the crowd at the store, it’s 12pm and you haven’t even fired up the grill yet! Guests start arriving and you’re working frantically to get everything ready. Your guests are having a good time, but you aren’t aware, because you can’t get out of the kitchen!!
If this is not you, I’m sure you’ve been to this party before. So, I offer a few tips to help you or someone you know become a better hostess and stop letting the kitchen hold you hostage.
1. Know your strengths, accept your weaknesses
I have a friend that lives by the mantra, “I am a party goer, not a party thrower.” She clearly accepts that she is not interested in dealing with the details that come with planning events. While I know Martha Stewart makes everything look easy, everyone does not have a penchant for entertaining and planning parties. And if you’re in this category, that’s okay. Instead of spending hours trying to channel your inner Martha Stewart to plan a 5 course dinner party, make reservations and spend the rest of the time shopping for something to wear to dinner.
If sweets are your thing, suggest a progressive dinner party and host the dessert course at your home. This will allow you to prepare items that you enjoy and eliminate the stress of planning a full-blown event.
2. Share your kitchen
I admit, I am definitely guilty of this one. But most of the time, it’s because by the time my guests arrive, I am already putting the food on the table to be served. It’s okay not want help in the kitchen, but make sure you have appetizers, snacks or something for your guests to nibble on until the main course is served. The worst is when the host tells you to go on and enjoy the party while she is just starting to season the chicken. We are offering to help you because we are hungry! We want to eat dinner some time before breakfast!! So please, take the hint and take the help.
3. Small or large, you still need a plan
The main reason most people have anxiety about hosting events is because they get overwhelmed. And they usually get overwhelmed because they did not have a plan. Although planning is a party is not hard, it does require the skill of time management. Whether you are having a few people over for a barbeque or planning your parents’ anniversary party, you need a plan. Making a list of what needs to be done along with a timeline will help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
I always start with my guest list. This helps me to make sure that the theme, menu and all my ideas will work in the location I have chosen. Sometimes after you create the guest list, you realize that the small and simple gathering you had in mind is really much more complicated than you thought. Having a plan will help you make adjustments before you realize you have more guests than you have space. It will also help manage your budget and your to-do list.
And remember, just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself. If you don’t like to cook, hire a caterer. Want to serve a signature cocktail, ask a talented friend to serve as your mixologist. Stick to doing what you do best! And in the end, if all you truly want to be is a hostess—hire a party planner like me :)
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