Having a dinner party should not be stressful.
I love the idea of inviting guests into our home but sometimes the stress of preparing for them can feel overwhelming and take the joy out of inviting others into your home. I have learned some ways that have helped me not feel stressed about having guests over.
Below are 5 easy prep steps to help eliminate stress and make entertaining friend in your home a real blast! It is never about the giant spread you put on or how perfect your house or table is, it’s about the connection we make with those in our lives and the ones we care about. It’s about laughing together, sharing together, even cooking together.
The key to avoid a stressful dinner party is the preparation that is done ahead of time.
When I first got married I couldn’t wait to start inviting guests into our home. I loved hospitality and anything that involved entertaining. Back then, I was insecure about my abilities and felt this incredible need to impress whoever came in my home. In some ways, it was a sense of validation of my worth as a wife, or at least that is what I thought.
When I look back at some of the parties I did, I see how much unnecessary stress I put on my family and myself. Instead of being honest with myself about what I could handle or afford, I would shoot for the moon and try and make everything from scratch. There always had to be several options when it came to the entree choice, the veggie and sides and I could never do just one dessert, that would feel like a let down to my guests.
I would often leave the store stunned at how much money I had spent for one party. Guilt would set in and then fear that my husband would find out.
Eventually I would talk myself in circles until I justified my way back into craziness. I never thought about how much prep time stuff would take or how many ingredients recipes took. I looked for the most impressive recipes and I went for it all the way no matter what it cost or how much time it took. It would be an hour before our guests would be arriving and I would be on meltdown, I would be impatient with my hubby and expect him to jump in and help. By the time our guests arrived – this dinner party was no fun and we had to put on brave faces and pretend we were all happy.
This is NO way to have a party. As the years have past my ideals have changed, being present with my guests and prepping and planning in a way that I too can enjoy the party is now a key part of how I plan.
A lack of planning can cause undue stress. My 5 tips help eliminate stress and make the dinner party feel like a party for you too! Keep it simple! This looks different for everyone. My simple and your simple won’t be the same – only you can determine what you can handle. If you don’t cook that much don’t worry. This doesn’t have to stop you from hosting parties.
Step 1: Assess your current work load: What can You handle?
If you have time to prep food the day before then make sure you choose a menu with items that you can prep in advance. You may want to check out this Loaded Potato Soup recipe. Dishes like this are filling, easy to make and can be thrown in the oven on the day of. If you don’t have a lot of time at all, choose something you can throw in the crockpot.
Step 2: Set the table in advance
I would encourage you to set the table in advance, if possible even the night before. When cooking a meal you will always be thrown a curve ball, sometimes things take longer than you expected or more time to cut up the ingredients.
Step 3: Ask Guests to bring something
There is nothing wrong with asking your guests to bring something. I usually word it this way, “Would you be open to bringing a dessert or to some drinks?” Most of the time my friends offer and I don’t have to ask. Most people are willing to bring something but some just don’t think to ask if they can bring something.
Step 4: Be Kind to yourself
If you don’t get everything done you had planned, give yourself a break and be ok with it. Your guests are not judging you on your performance. They are looking to come to a place where they can enjoy your company and share a meal together. If you don’t cook but your friends look to cook you can even suggest them come over and you cook a meal together. You can ask them if they have a favorite recipe you can get the supplies for. This is a great way to have time together, play to each others strength and make a memory having fun in the kitchen together.
Step 5: Clean up Prep
The part of doing a party I don’t enjoy is the clean up.
- There are a few things that can make this process feel so much less painful and can make clean up be a breeze.
- Make sure your dishwasher is empty to give you a quick way to throw the dirty ones in at the end of the night.
- Wash any dirty pots or pans as you are cooking to eliminate standing there scrubbing them at the end of the night.
- Empty your garbage before your guests arrive so that you have space to throw waste away quickly.
- If someone offers to help you clean up at the end of the night, it is not rude to accept the help.
Sometimes I gauge to see how late it is, if it’s super late or I can tell my guests are offering because they feel obligated but I can see they are exhausted I politely refuse their help and assure them it will be a quick clean up.
Remember no matter how the night goes, keep the connection real. If your meal is not ready when they arrive or you have dishes all over, roll with it. When our guests see us being ourselves it allows them to do the same! You are capable of so much so don’t hold back on inviting those you care about into your home.
The more you can prep things in advance the less opportunity you have for stress. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey, put on some good dancing music on and get to prepping. Make it fun and you’ll find yourself wanting to do it again!
What stresses you out when you host a dinner party? How do you eliminate this stress?
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The idea of writing books, blogs, recording podcasts and shooting videos came after years of showing friends and family how much I valued them by creating memorable experiences in my home. Whether a party, a meal, or a hangout – with or without food, I realized that when you add atmosphere, decor and conversation, it goes along way to making people feel loved and welcome in your home.
- Bringing Ideas to Life
- Don’t Break The Bank
- Repurposing Decor
- Prep, Don’t Stress
- The Extra Mile
- Presentation Wins
- Hosting the Hang
- Keeping Conversation
- Being Great Company