Wednesday means that we can go ahead and start planning for next weekend, yes?
I love weekends.
I love having people over on weekends, especially. It’s so much more low key than going out, and it’s WAY cheaper to do something at someone’s house than go out, that’s fo shiz. But, people are all antsy about cooking for big crowds, getting it all done in time, all that good stuff.
So today I thought I’d tell you how I go about entertaining for a gang – it’s a lot of the same tricks I use when I cater to be sure that I can get everything done, everything will be delicious, and I don’t lose my ever loving mind. It’s happened before.
Mainly, I focus on menu planning. I choose things that can MOSTLY be done ahead of time, and maybe one thing that really needs to be cooked right before we eat. Sometimes I entertain only with foods that can be made days or hours in advance, then all I have to do is get everything out. That’s kind of my favorite thing ever, but it can’t always be done that easily.
For an appetizer-type party, I do meatballs (make ahead, keep warm in pot of marinara), pimento cheese, some kind of hummus, and a veggie tray or chips and salsa. Every single thing there can be made in advance, so I can do last minute things like get out drinks and check all the trash cans in my house to be sure the dogs haven’t gotten in them. You know, important stuff.
If it’s a meal, the crock pot is a best friend – start something early, then even if you don’t eat right when you think you will the food will stay warm and not over cook. Taco parties are a favorite of mine; you can do this crock pot taco chicken wayyyyy earlier in the day, cut up some toppings and put them in little bowls, then just get everything out with tortillas and other taco toppings when you want to eat!
If I’m making things that do require last minute work, I go through each dish in my head and figure out what I CAN do ahead of time. So, I might have a salad that I really want to dress at the last minute, but I can prep all the veggies, keep them in tupperware, then just assemble when it’s time to eat. With a meat and potatoes-type dinner, I can make mashed potatoes and a cold salad in advance, then just worry about cooking meat and maybe one other vegetable when folks arrive before we eat.
I hate getting the house ready for guests, so I try to basically make Jay do all of that. jkjk – I do try to budget my time on that one, though. We don’t use our guest bathroom a ton, so I can clean that a few days in advance and be done with it. Our dogs shed like mo-fos, so vacuuming HAS to happen at the last minute for us. Budget. Think in your brain. Not that hard.
In other food ideas, casseroles, soups, or anything that can be assembled way in advance and then cooked in the oven when you’re ready to eat is epic. This osso bucco can be made all the way in advance, then just stick it back in the oven or on the stovetop to warm through when you have people over. It can sit in the fridge for up to 3 days and be GREAT.
A lot of this revolves around advanced prep, which is my absolute biggest weapon when it comes to not being super frantic if you have people over. If you have ZERO TIME EVER, though, you might want to turn into the type of human that always has a lasagna or three in your freezer, or learn some super fast meals to make with pantry ingredients.
You also need to not care as much, ya know? I don’t do favors. I barely decorate (Trader Joe’s flowers in a vase are the best I can ever manage). I don’t do Pinterest. I got no wreath on my door. The house will be exactly as clean as it will be when guests arrive, and if the food isn’t all done then they can just watch me cook. I’ll live to see another day, my friends won’t leave me because I ran out of time, you know. All the things we know are true but somehow forget because somehow we think that we’re better people if we have wreathes on our doors? Maybe. Maybe not.
So let’s end with two questions. First, what are your fav get-your-shit-together hosting tips? Second, who’s having me over this weekend?