This post is sponsored by Fisher & Paykel.
The Man and I used to entertain all. the. time. Seriously, we would have friends over for dinner or drinks every week.
Fast forward a few years and The Man has a longer commute and more responsibility at work and I have a business and blog that takes up a lot more time than my previous 9-5 gig.
Our nights and weekends are no longer as free as they once were, but we still love to cook and entertain just as much.
What to do?
Over the years we’ve found ways to still entertain even in the busiest weeks life throws at us. Here are some tips that keep us sane while being good hosts.
Prepare ahead of time
Friday night dinner party? Get a head start on Thursday evening by getting big things like the cleaning and shopping out of the way. You can even start prepping your food (chopping, measuring dry ingredients, making sauces etc) and setting the table so you don’t have to skip your after work knock-off drinks. Then on the night it’s simply a matter of doing a last-minute tidy and doing the cooking.
Choose your dishes wisely
Most of my go-to entertaining recipes have become favourites because they don’t require me to be chained to the stove. I opt for dishes that can be prepared ahead and cooked in the oven or left to simmer away on its own, such as roasts and casseroles (hint: avoid recipes with the dreaded phrase ‘stir constantly’).
Alternatively, if it’s a weeknight meal and you don’t have time for a slow-cooked dish, choose something that cooks super quickly like a steak, stirfry or pasta.
Use labour-saving appliances
The single biggest thing that puts us off entertaining when we’re busy is not the planning or the cooking… it’s the dishes. A Dishdrawer (or conventional dishwasher) would alleviate that ‘ugh!’ feeling when you look at the kitchen at the end of a dinner party and means the next day the only after-effects you need to deal with is the sore head.
It’s not just dishwashers though: think roomy refrigerators (so you don’t have to play fridge tetris), multi-burner stoves (so you can be cooking various dishes at once) and double ovens (so your cake doesn’t end up tasting like pork roast).
Don’t try to do it all
If one of your guests offers to bring something, let them! I enjoy planning and cooking a full menu, but if I’m short on time I won’t hesitate to accept a friend’s offer of bringing dessert or nibbles.
Also, there is nothing wrong with store-bought! If you don’t see yourself as much of a cook, pick up some prepared stuffed chicken breasts and a readymade cake.
Keep it simple
Cooking shows will have you believe that you have to put on a three course meal for it to be considered a proper dinner party. For a mid-week dinner with friends, a yummy main followed by coffee and maybe some biscuits is totally fine. (I admit I generally don’t take my own advice here as I love any excuse to try out a new dessert!)
Oh and unless you’re a confident cook, don’t try something new when you’re having guests over. Stick to your tried-and-true lemon chicken or bolognese so you’re not tearing your hair out when things don’t go as expected.
Lower your standards (just a little)
I would love to be one of those women in adverts swanning around in a red dress in my sparkling clean house and spotless kitchen when guests rock up. Thankfully, here in the real world our friends and family expect nothing more than a relatively tidy entertaining area, a lovingly made meal and some good wine.
Sure, we try our best to have the house looking as nice as possible, but if we have to shut the doors to messy rooms and only have time for a quick once-over of the bathroom then so be it. If having company over stresses you out, remember they’re coming to see you not your house.
So, if you plan ahead, choose clever appliances and keep things simple, there’ll be no such thing as ‘too busy’ to entertain!
What are your stress-free entertaining tips? Add them in the comments!
Still life photography by me; dishwasher shot provided by Fisher & Paykel.