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Do you like the idea of entertaining but shy away because you’re worried that it’ll just be too much work? It doesn’t have to be! Read on for easy hosting tips!
Meeting the Neighbors – Finally!
July marked the one-year anniversary of the move to our new home. In all that time, my husband and I only met one of our neighbors, and then only because I accosted the man next door when I saw him shoveling snow one day.
When I mentioned how hard it was to meet people in the area, he said something about people being “really chill here.”
To a degree, it made sense. The houses in our new neighborhood are on larger, heavily treed lots with no sidewalks. Everybody drives everywhere, so you don’t often run into people.
And maybe people really are more “chill” here?
But I noticed that after I introduced myself, the neighbor and his wife went out of their way to say hello whenever they saw me working in the yard. They seemed like very nice people, but they sold their house and moved this summer.
When two more houses sold within just a few weeks and new families moved in, my husband suggested we host some kind of get together. I agreed – over the last year, four new families had moved in, including ourselves, so it seems like a perfect opportunity to make connections.
Even so, I put it off for a while. I was just so busy. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to bite the bullet and get on with it.
I’m so glad I did!
We invited about thirty people. Almost all of them showed up and had such a good time! One woman said, “We should do this more often! In the fifteen years I’ve lived here, we’ve never had a neighborhood gathering.”
Fifteen years? Really?
Easy Hosting Tips: It’s Easier than You Think
No matter where we live or what we do, all of us feel busy these days. So if the idea of hosting a big party, or even a small get-together, seems overwhelming I totally get it!
But if you follow a few simple tips and principles, hospitality really can be hassle-free. The first step is to get past the things that might make you hesitant about showing hospitality.
A few years back, I wrote about Hospitality 101 addressing some of those issues. Be sure to check it out if you have time, but there are really just a few things you need to keep in mind….
First off, your house is good enough! So don’t let worries about it being too small or not perfectly decorated stop you.
Second, remember that the most important part of hospitality lies in being a good listener. If you give folks a chance to tell their stories and make connections, I guarantee they’ll have a good time.
Third, and most importantly, focus on your friends, not the food! Now, don’t get me wrong – I love to cook. My “happy place” is in the kitchen, trying or inventing fancy new recipes to share with friends.
But if that’s not your thing or you simply don’t have time to cook right now, you can still host a terrific, hassle-free party that people will love. No kidding!
Here are five tips to help you do just that.
Easy Hosting Tips – One: Start at the Store
Like I said (and as anybody who reads my blog knows) I love to cook. And I love making fancy dishes to spoil my guests, such as my Boston Butt Pork Roast. It’s always a dinner party crowd-pleaser. But cooking takes time, which is sometimes in short supply.
Rather than put off entertaining until “things calm down and I’ve got some spare time” (which, as we all know, may never happen), don’t shy away from serving prepared items from the grocery store. For my recent neighborhood gathering, I let Costco do the cooking. I served an assortment of sliced cheeses, dips, crackers, fruit, and baked goods.
Was it as good as the food I could have made from scratch? No.
But nobody went hungry, and everybody had a good time so, as far as I’m concerned it was “mission accomplished.
Easy Hosting Tips – Two: Boards are Da’ Bomb
Over the last few years, I have really embraced the joy of boards!
They are the perfect hassle-free way to share hospitality. Even when you’re using prepared items from the store, serving even simple fare on artfully arranged boards makes it feel like a special occasion.
Until I moved to Central Oregon and became friends with Sandy Coughlin, whose Reluctant Entertainer food blog has been a driving force in their popularity, I’d never heard of boards. Now, I use them ALL the time!
Sandy just came out with a cookbook, Big Boards and More, that includes a ton of inspiration for boards and scores of delicious recipes that I cannot wait to try! So, I am confident that Casa Bostwick guests will enjoy even more wonderful boards in the future.
If you’re in the market for a terrific new cookbook, give Big Boards and More a try. You won’t be disappointed!
Easy Hosting Tips – Three: Make It Ahead
Another tip for making hospitality easier is to rely on dishes you can make ahead of time and either serve cold or warm up once guests arrive.
When the weather is warm, I like doubling some of my favorite main dish salad recipes, such as my Layered Salad with Avocado and Lime Dressing. Add some good bread, a nice wine, and maybe some ice cream for dessert, and dinner is served!
As the temperatures drop, I often use make-ahead homemade casseroles such as Sweet Potato Gratin with Ham Casserole. Once again, serve it with bread, adult beverages, and a simple dessert.
Easy Hosting Tips – Four: I’ll Take Potluck
Potlucks can be a lifesaver for busy hosts! If you just don’t have time to prepare a full meal, consider making just a main dish and asking your guests to bring a salad, side dish, or dessert.
Not only does it take some pressure off the host, but discussing what other people brought can be a good conversation starter. Sometimes, I even ask people to bring copies of their recipes to share with others. It’s a fun way to break the ice with new people.
The casserole options I mentioned above work well as anchor entrees for a potluck. But I’ll often make two big pots of different soups to serve. If you’ve got or can borrow a couple of slow cookers, the soup option is extra easy! Creamy Garlic Mushroom Soup, Buckwheat Chicken Soup with Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin Soup with White Beans are some of my favorite soups to make for guests.
Another possibility if you are short on time is to serve a precooked, spiral-sliced ham. All you have to do is heat it up and put it on a platter!
Easy Hosting Tips – Five: It Doesn’t Have to Be Dinner
If the idea of hosting a whole meal feels overwhelming, consider inviting people for cocktails, coffee, or dessert.
A special “signature cocktail” such as my Fresh Strawberry Margaritas, served with a small cheese board is something your guest will love. So is a big pot of coffee served with a warm from the oven baked treat like my Chewy Pumpkin Harvest Cookies.
However, creating a gorgeous dessert board with a delectable selection of sweet treats is my hands-down favorite. That’s what my friend Sandy served at her cookbook launch and it was a huge hit. Who could possibly resist such a gorgeous spread!
Easy Hosting Tips – Six: Just Do It
Here’s the bottom line – hospitality doesn’t have to be a hassle!
You don’t need the perfect house to entertain or be a fantastic cook. The only thing required is an open heart, a sincere desire to create a connection with others, and a little time.
When it comes to hospitality, the important thing is simply to do it.
Whether you make a gourmet meal from scratch, create a pretty board, host a potluck, or invite a few girlfriends over for dessert, your guests will have a wonderful time. So will you!