Whether you're entertaining for a crowd or just having a last-minute get-together with close friends, the right supplies and tools can make your guests and yourself have a great time. Here are our top 10 entertaining tips.
Illustration: Leremy (Shutterstock)
10. Tidy Up Quickly
The first thing most of us probably think of when having guests over is tidying up so our places look presentable. Don't go crazy cleaning your home until it's immaculate. While it would be great if you kept up with housecleaning on a regular basis, a quick 15-minute cleanup session could be enough to set your mind at ease, and, at the very least, you can fake a clean place with some clever hiding tricks. Post-party, you might need to know how to get rid of these common spills and stains.
9. Make Serving Food Easier
We've got some clever tricks for getting foods (and condiments) in front of your guests — an essential part of hosting. You can serve food warm on a pizza stone, serve snacks right in the snack bag (no extra bowls to use and clean), use a muffin tin to dish out condiments, or turn a six-pack carrier into a backyard dining kit to carry condiments, utensils and more around. Also remember that how you plate your food can make a big difference for your guests' enjoyment, since thoughtful plating makes food taste better.
8. Calculate How Many People You Should Invite
When figuring out your invite list, you'll have to take into consideration how many people your place can comfortably fit. One easy method to figure this out is to divide the square footage of your home by five (since each guest needs about five feed of personal space) and assume 20 per cent of invitees wouldn't be coming. Once you've figured that out, know how much food to serve per person.
7. Stock Up Your Pantry for Entertaining
For impromptu get-togethers, always have on hand your standard snacks (chips, crackers and dips), easy, quick dinner ingredients, and simple sweets like biscuits and tea cookies. A well-stocked pantry makes having guests over at any time simple — no need to run to the store.
6. Serve the Perfect Foods for Entertaining
Some foods are better — and easier — to make for entertaining than others. Cheese crisps, for example, are a great party snack, and everyone loves finger foods, so learn how to make over 500 kinds. In the summer, backyard parties rule, so learn how to turn a watermelon into a keg. At any time of year, the ideal dinner party meal is something you can finish in the oven. It also helps to spread out your meal prep to make dinner parties easier.
5. Stock Up Your Bar Without Spending a Ton
Perhaps the perfect formula for meeting all guests' alcohol desires during a party: 50 per cent beer, 25 per cent wine and 25 per cent liquor. Make sure you have the basic drinks for every home bar: vodka, rum, whiskey, gin and tequila. For wine drinkers, use a wine calculator to buy the right amount of bottles. If you need more drink recipes, check out Top Shelf (iOS) or Bartender (Android) to learn how to mix just about anything.
4. Get All the Party Supplies You Need
Big get-togethers require different kinds of supplies, from kitchenware to, depending on the festivities, decorations. Here's a checklist you can adapt for your next shindig. Garage sales are also great places to stock up on entertaining supplies.
3. Get Guests Mingling
The point — and most important part of a get-together — is to enjoy your time with your guests and for them to enjoy each other. Strategic food placement can help control where crowds gather, so put snacks in different locations to encourage movement and intermingling. You could also invite more people than you have seating (or deliberately not provide enough chairs) to get guests to move around.
2. Set the Mood with Music and Lighting
Nothing makes a party or get together like good music. Several apps let your guests contribute to the party playlist so you don't have to play DJ the whole time, including DJ 51 (Android/iOS) and Qcast (for Chromecast). You can even build your own Arduino-powered music player that plays everyone's favourite songs automatically.
1. Host a Party on a Budget
If you don't want to drop a lot of money on your party, try throwing a potluck party (potlucks are also great when hosting a dinner for strangers) or inviting friends over just for dessert and drinks. A BYOD policy can also help.
The above are our most essential party-planning tips, but for more advice, check out our collection of other tips for hosting a successful party.