Tips for Effortless Entertaining

I may not be the best person to be writing a post about effortless entertaining…my husband would call me an obsessive, over entertainer…but I feel I have gotten much better with the exception of our New Year’s Eve party a couple months ago. {A shout-out to my husband, without him helping to chop and mix ingredients when I over planned dishes for the event, I wouldn’t have had much food to offer our guests} As you can tell, we love to host gatherings. I love to prepare the menu, cook, decorate, and obsess over every aspect. Then, sit back, enjoy the company of others, and share the treats I have prepared. While my husband loves to do the grilling and socialize from the get-go. I’d say we compliment each other pretty well and his casual, laid back attitude has been rubbing off on me a little bit these days.

Cheese

When we lived in the U.S., if we were planning something for a Saturday night, I would spend Friday night doing the grocery shopping, prepping whatever I could, cleaning, decorating, and getting a head start on my to do list. Then, I’d be up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to clean the entire house and then get a move on prepping everything, so I would still have time to shower and get made up before people arrived. Having a couple of friends over to grill burgers or steaks would always be a whole weekend affair. Looking back it’s a little ridiculous but I always loved it. Call me crazy!

Luckily, I have the luxury here to have someone to help with the cleaning on a daily basis so that I can dedicate all my time to getting the ingredients and making the food and have more free time for myself. The first couple of events we had, I filled the extra time from not cleaning with doing more with the food and decorating. And I realized quickly this was completely crazy!

Veggie Platter

We have since hosted several last minute or very low key events where I have worked on adopting a more effortless approach and using mostly what is already on hand. This has allowed me, with reduced stress, to put together a menu of munchies for a last minute Tuesday night get together, a 15 person game night, or an impromptu farewell party.

My recipe for effortless entertaining:

  • Simple is best. You don’t need a million options or to use the most complicated recipes. Don’t be afraid to scrap a thing or two if you are running low on time. It will save you stress and no one will know you didn’t make that extra dish!
  • Grab items that are easy to unwrap and put out.
    • Grab some salami, prosciutto, pancetta, and ham. Either transfer directly or plate it up creatively.
    • Grab one or two types of cheese and cut into cubes/slices and position near the meat.
    • Put out a few crackers and/or apple slices to go with the meat and cheese.
  • Fresh veggies and dip. My go-to has always been Ranch but I have started developing spread recipes as well to offer another option for our guests. Pre-made hummus is another great go-to option. Check out the Blue Cheese and Pecan Spread. It is always a hit. The spread works well with the veggies or along with some fresh French bread. And is worth a few extra minutes of prep time.
  • Throw a few pickles or olives out for a salty taste. Nuts are another great option.
  • Then, add something for the late night sweet tooth. My favorite thing has been to try out different popcorn recipes. Everyone loves popcorn and who couldn’t resist it late at night! Check out Crack Popcorn & Peanut Crunch for one of my favorites.
  • Chips and dip. Store bought or homemade pico de gallo is highly recommended or even make your own guacamole.

Meat and Cheese Platter

All combined together, are the makings of a great mix of sweet, salty, savory, and will be great food in your stomachs as you drink the night away. This assortment is perfect for game nights or casual get-togethers sitting around a patio. They are all great grab-n-go options and can be kept at an arms distance to be enjoyed throughout the night.

To keep things simple, I keep several options of napkins and plasticware in plastic storage containers so that I have them on hand already. {Particularly helpful for last minute affairs since it takes 2 weeks to get mail to us in Rwanda.} I throw them in a woven utensil serving basket and I’m done. I’ve got a great variety of serving platters and bowls to display our food spread on our dining room table or our patio table.

Meat Platter

You can accomplish all of this in a matter of two hours if you already have everything on hand. Now that is manageable!

For the times when you have more time or want a more substantive meal of your get-together…..

I recommend sticking with the main entree (remember to consider any vegetarians that might be joining), a salad or other veggie option, and a heartier side. Adding one appetizer, especially chips or veggies and dip or even a nice spread and apples with French bread, is easy and will hold your guests over until you are done grilling or getting the main entree ready to eat. Kids and adults alike love to nibble so remember that!

  • Our go-to is a beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce, caprese salad, and basil pearled couscous. It’s delicious and a hit everytime – we never have any leftovers, plus we have the timing down now. Work to find your own signature dish as your favorite go-to as well.

With all of this, do you really need dessert? I would have always said yes but everyone will likely already be stuffed and will not have any room left. I’m also notorious for forgetting to put the dessert out any way. If you must do something for dessert, I recommend lightly grilling fresh pineapple slices while the grill is still hot. It is a simple and fresh dessert option that everyone will love and can easily be paired with store bought vanilla ice cream.

Happy Entertaining!!

Dessert

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