Expert Entertaining?

It tickles me pink when magazines think that as soon as the leaves come down, we all make plans to hold glamorous 5-course dinner parties for a dozen guests. Actually, my preferred form of entertaining is the type where I open the front door and dole out candy to little people.

However, if you are into grown-up candlelight suppers, you might enjoy these tips from House Beautiful on how to do it in style. At any rate, some of them gave me a good giggle:

  • “Have a stiff drink before anyone arrives. If you are having fun, everyone will have fun”.
    My reality: Yup, guests love it when I set fire to the oven mitts and then fall asleep in the downstairs bathroom.

  • “Have beverages visible from the moment guests step in the door.”
    My reality: Well, that would create a delightful gridlock in the hallway. It might get me a snide mention on Catalog Living, too.
  • “Always do favors. People love to leave with a little something.”
    My reality: I agree: guests adore leaving my parties with a slice of cold pizza in cling-wrap.
  • “Buy a pad of sticky notes and write everything down that you need to do. Stick them all around the kitchen. When you finish a task, take down that note.”
    My reality:
  • “You should always have a cold bottle of bubbly stashed in your refrigerator in case friends drop by.”
    My reality: nice cup of Earl Grey, anyone?

In case you think I’m being too mean to the good folks at House Beautiful, many of the tips, such as “start with an empty dishwasher” and “you can never have too many white plates”, are pretty good.

And lest you leave with the impression that I am a completely hopeless hostess, rest assured, I do like to have friends over, but on my own terms. And while this plan-ahead-princess greatly prefers 2 weeks notice, I can even cope with same-day socializing.

What’s your entertaining style? Are you all about Dom Perignon and placecards, or is your home more into Guitar Hero and guacamole?

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18 Responses to Expert Entertaining?

  1. Shelley says:

    Cute illustrations! I like to plan ahead but I don't do place cards, etc. Nor favours – I did them one inviting them I figure. Agree pretty much with your priorities. Haven't had folks over all year, mind, bar house guests – family. Thanksgiving is coming up – so the season of madness has begun! 50 invitations sent out on Monday…

  2. Karla @ {The Classy Woman} says:

    I loved this post and laughed so hard out loud over the post it note description and pic, I'm sure my next door neighbor heard me. LOL.

    I love how you're keeping it real.

    As for our home, anyone that knows me well knows that as much as I love cleaning, decorating, making things by hand and cooking/baking, I don't like all of the extra work that comes with entertaining in my home. ie: Cleaning before, after, during. I like to bake/cook and bring a bunch of goodies to other people's homes/parties.

    Having said that, the last gathering was last Christmas Eve, I had my in-laws over and we did a casual dinner, but I went all out and had shot-glass style desserts made and we did have a little champagne too.

    The Martha in me seems to find no end to the fun details for entertaining large groups but all of those details can really add up cost-wise which is one of the reasons why I'm loving potlucks lately.

  3. Belinda says:

    Oh the post-it photo just made my laugh out loud!!

    But, FAVORS- perleezzz, this is Bree from Desperate Housewives on steriods, isn't it? Please say everyone else isn't doing this?? Party bags are for the under 10s in our house.

    I love big bowls of food that don't need stress-inducing primping, plenty of wine, good cheeses (and a proper pud otherwise people are disappointed!) And I actually love 6 or less, because then you really feel you have caught up with friends. To me that's what it is about.

  4. GB says:

    LOL–my reality on the sticky notes is very similar to yours! I once left the menu/to-do lidt (which includes gems like- slice two red onions, mince 5 cloves of garlic, have hubby take out the trash, all with a timeline sketched in–yes, I agree, totally OCD) in plain view on the refrigerator for all my guests to admire. I got away with it because it was friends who were coming over… :)

  5. Jo Jo says:

    Definitely more on the casual side… love the idea of home made gaucamole and a good board game!

  6. Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess says:

    I love your take on HB's comments! Though I found some utterly ridiculous, I had a bit more a wide-eyed view when I read their list. :-)

    Though I prefer to plan waaaay ahead and get ultra organized, some of my favorite gatherings have been totally last minute affairs, like this recent one. And it's always very reassuring to find that one can manage the occasional (nearly) spontaneous gathering!

  7. The Buzz says:

    I'm in your camp… as Kelly Wearstler said "Serve takeout on your finest china"! That's what we do and everyone eats well. Happy weekend!

  8. Amanda Kuzak says:

    This is too funny, I love the sticky note photo. My entire house would look like that if I stuck to the suggested method. Have a great weekend!

  9. says:

    The Martha Stewart comes out in me a bit when entertaining. It isn't pretty and my blood pressure goes up.

    I have never been to a party where there are favors given out. I think it would be a bit strange.

  10. Tricia Rose says:

    You are hitting a nerve here! I think a stressed hostess is the worst turnoff though so the postit notes are a no-no.

    Best advices I ever had were:
    people don't mind you cooking, but you can hardly put on makeup once they're there
    candles make everything look good
    have at least one course made ahead
    let guests help – this is for things like hulling strawberries, not jointing road-kill


  11. Semi Expat says:

    This is so funny – made me smile on a miserable rainy day here in Melbourne! Love the 'setting fire to the oven mitts and falling asleep in the downstairs bathroom' comment! And yes, you are a very good hostess – I remember your good advice for same day socialisig – very useful. x

  12. Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle says:

    This is my first visit to your blog and I'm glad this was the first post I read, it was hilarious. I read that article in HB and had to laugh at the expert advice because for every expert must-do tip, another tip seemed to say just the opposite.

    For us, the best entertaining involves ordering pizza, making a nice salad and offering our guests some of our favorite wine. Entertaining for us is more about the conversation than the food.

  13. Janell @ Isabella and Max says:

    This post had my laughing, love the illustrations and your "reality check" on the advice! I like to entertain, just don't make a big production out of it. My favorite kind of entertaining is when everyone brings something to add to the mix…I much prefer other people's cooking to my own!


  14. Carmie of the Single Nester says:

    What about earl grey scented champagne :)

  15. Bromeliad says:

    I used to be obsessed but now a dish of reheatable cheesy pasta is more my style. And maybe a salad.

  16. Style Attic says:

    Goodness, I always have a good time when I visit your blog! I can only imagine the reality of a smashing good time I would have if I were a real house guest. However it turns out, is exactly how it was meant to be :)

  17. I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but Im glad I visited. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I believe my visitors will find that very useful.

  18. What a great post, I don’t know how you continuosly mangage to come up with unique information, where do you get it all from?

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