Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Five tricks for stress-free entertaining

 Sponsored by Reckitts and Benckiser

My plan over the next few months is to host a few more long lunches to enjoy the gorgeous sunny weather we’ve been experiencing.

The Sow’s Ear is a great place to entertain, ever since we renovated our kitchen and deck.  It’s been a lot easier and stress-free to host gatherings, particularly now we have a dishwasher – no more hand washing the night away when all you want to do is sleep off the meal!

lunch on the deck
Hand washing wine glasses and dishes after a big party is a thing of the past, especially with the new ergonomic dishwashers that are available to suit small spaces like the Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer series – pull out a small drawer and wash as you go! It’s one less hassle to have to worry about, even in compact apartments or small kitchens.

Anyway, here are a couple of my top tips and tricks for stress-free entertaining:

Tip 1 - Beverages and responsible drinking

Make sure you have great drinks and cocktails at the ready and lots of them. As the host, consuming a few before the event is also a must. Instant rancho-relaxo!

The worry about whether your filet mignon is cooked to perfection will be but a trifling matter to you and your tipsy friends.  Jason generally picks up our guests before lunch, so that they don’t have to drive and leave their car behind. Have a taxi telephone number pre-dialled into your phone to make sure your guests get home safely.

Jason's enjoying a martini on the deck...you only need one to feel relaxed!

Tip 2 - Simple menu planning

Planning and picking meals that are simple to prepare, yet still have the wow factor is what I strive for when entertaining. I personally don’t like cooking a whole meal, from go to whoa, in front of people.  I purposely choose meals that just require serving after it has been cooking in the oven. Think slow cooked osso bucco, delicious roasts, and baked hams - meals which basically cook themselves when all the prior preparation has been done.

Love a roast when entertaining - turkey, lamb and pork are my holy trinity of meats

Tip 3 - Preparation

Prior preparation is the key to stress-free. If you can do most of the hard work the day or night before, then do it. The day before is when I make sure the house is clean and fit for guests, all the shopping is done and dessert, like homemade ice-cream or crème brulee,  is made and refrigerated.

On the morning of the party, I generally like to have all the dirty dishes done and have an empty dishwasher ready to load as we progress through the meal.  Easy and quick, is the name of the game. It’s a good feeling when you know the dishes are being done as the last guest stumbles home.

Ha! Pretend that's me wistfully loading a DishDrawer dishwasher in my compact yet adorable kitchen!
Aren't I cute? image from here

Tip 4 - Delegate and outsource

The children and Jason are employed as unskilled labour during the lead up to a party. The kids are used as wait staff and can do jobs like clearing the table and filling the dishwasher between courses. They’re also a good resource for finishing off the left-overs.  Jason’s role is to top up drinks and he’s very good at it!

I am also of the belief that there is no shame in buying dessert or asking your guests to bring a salad or side dish to have with the meal. If you’re going to feed a crowd, sometimes it’s just easier to get your mates to lend a hand or to buy something pre-prepared.

A Greek orzo salad is a meal in itself and is one of my favourite salads for bringing along to events

Tip 5 - Cool tunes

And last but not least is to have music playing in the background. Music goes hand in hand with a great meal and it gets everyone in a good mood.  Good food, good company and good music are the perfect combination.

Have I left anything out? What do you do when you entertain? I would love to hear your tips too.


  1. Great post! I'm the world's worst hostess, because I tend to try to cook while the guests are in the kitchen with me, and I talk waaaaaay too much to pay attention to the food.

    I seriously need to follow your tips.

  2. I so admire that you can cook in front of people! One of my friends can do that but I just can't. I feel too self conscious...especially if I'm dipping my finger in the food to see if it tastes okay!

    I reckon you'd throw a pretty good dinner party, Dana. We'd have a ball at your modernist nest! xx

  3. Seriously good tips there Brismod (esp where the kids come in handy as waiters - mine are probably a bit young for that). We haven't done much entertaining whilst we've been living in this unit, but I've been doing a bit of thinking about menu plans for a housewarming bash that is coming up soon! And it's going to be a big one. Want to bring that orzo salad along? xx

    1. Thanks Caroline. I'm in. One extra large orzo salad on the menu. xx

  4. Good tips! Clever advice about making desserts a day prior and making dishes you can just pull out of the oven and serve too.

    1. I don't think I'd be able to cope otherwise Carol! xx

  5. Vg, and another tip is to give your guests a rundown of the menu as they sit down to the table, so that they appreciate all the fanciness and exotic ingredients that has gone into it. Otherwise the philistines may think the pak choi is celery.

  6. Ha ha! Classic Mise...nothing like ensuring everyone knows how fancy we are...xx


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