Posts Labeled ‘party planning’

Advanced Planning = Gracious Hospitality

I recently thew a little dinner party for some friends. As usual, I carefully thought through the menu, picked out my serveware and dinnerware, set the table, arranged some flowers and worked on other decor — all in advance. I worked intentionally to make sure that everything was organized and thoughtfully planned out. Why? Not just because I am Type A, but because I wanted to make sure everything was in place that night so that I could be available and enjoy my guests.

In the past, when I was new at entertaining, I would plan elaborate menus and not consider the work involved — particularly the last-minute preparations that would require my attention even after the guests had arrived. I found myself stuck in the kitchen while everyone else was mingling and talking. That is the opposite of a good and gracious hostess.

A hostess should be able to interact with her guests while keeping a keen eye on things that might make them feel more welcomed and comfortable. Do they have a drink in their hand? Do they know where the appetizers are? Does their water glass need to be refilled? Have they been introduced to the other guests? and so on. By having the setup and menu planned step-by-step in advance, the hostess is freed up to do these things.

My party planning documents are nothing special. They suit my particular needs and style; hostesses should create a document that works for them. The other benefit of typing it up is so that you know what you served at your last party should there be repeat guests and so you can remember little things like,”Did I leave enough time for making the potatoes?” “What did people think about those proscuitto-wrapped figs?”

For more ideas on staying organized when entertaining, check out these tips.

Happy Party Planning!

party planning notes

My Go-To Cookbooks: Part One

The central element to any at-home celebration — be it a cocktail party, engagement party, or a casual dinner with friends — is food. Not mediocre food. Good food.

My goal is always to create a menu that guests will devour with their eyes and nose before they even take a bite. Doing that is rarely a quick process, though.  Like studying for an exam, building a great menu takes time and research and so I often find myself typing that magical URL, Epicurious, into my browser as a way to get started. But for me, there is still nothing better than flipping through the pages of a well-worn cookbook to create a fabulous menu.

For me, a cookbook reads like a novel. I pour over its pages, soaking up every word and picture, analyzing the list of ingredients, and figuring out whether the instructions would be like attempting a Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle — frustrating and rarely completed.

Over the years I have found myself turning to some of the same cookbooks time and again, and falling in love with new cookbooks when they are added to my shelves.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my favorite, go-to cookbooks that I keep in my cookbook shelves in my (new!!) kitchen.

I am head-over-heels for the built-in cookbook shelves in our new kitchen!

Some of my favorite cookbooks...

Stay tuned for a shelf-by-shelf look at a few of my favorite cookbooks and some tried-and-true recipes I love from each. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!