I love entertaining. I’m in my element when I’m planning menus, and my friends will tell you that no one commits to a theme quite like I do. When we were packing up to move to NYC, we unearthed all manner of party paraphernalia – it was a graveyard of sombreros, blow up cacti, children’s party toys, and an excessive amount of Christmas decorations. We had an amazing apartment back home for entertaining, but sadly we now live in a 2×4 with no balcony so I have had to tone down my soirees. That said, I have a few occasions on the horizon that require a trip to Party City, which is why I devised my handy list of stress free entertaining in a small apartment.
- Plan ahead. Whether it’s two for dinner or 20 for drinks, don’t leave it until the morning of to go to the grocery store or decide you need to clean the apartment. If you’re stressed on the day, it won’t be a fun experience, which is the exact opposite of what entertaining should be.
- Keep it simple. Good for you if you can bang out a vichyssoise, lobster ravioli with handmade pasta, and then a baked alaska like it’s no big deal. For us mere mortals the best thing to do is pick one thing and do it well. Make a great pasta dish? Fab – serve it up family style so everyone can share. Do a great dip? Let’s grab some corn chips and get this show on the road. Now is not the time to try new recipes. Not everything that comes out of the kitchen needs to be Michelin star.
- Do all your preparation beforehand. Regardless of whether it’s a dinner party or finger food, 75% of your menu should be prepared in advance. Nothing should require last minute construction or garnishing, and it definitely should not require you to stand in the kitchen over the stove while your guests mingle without you! Food stress does not lead to a…
- Relaxed atmosphere. If you’re tense, your guests will be tense. I’m sure we have all been to a party where the host ran around like a blue-arsed fly all night, and no one really felt at ease. If you do 1, 2, and 3, then you should be good for 4.
- Avoid useless work. This ties in with 4. We all wants things to be perfect, but I guarantee your guests care more about the company than whether your napkins are ironed or the top of your fridge is clean.
- Set the mood. Good music, somewhere for people to sit (a must if your apartment is small like ours with only one couch – rearrange your chairs to make people comfy), perhaps some candles for atmosphere. Added bonus – if the lights are dimmed and there are candles flickering, no one will notice that the top of the fridge is dirty anyway! Score!
- Delegate. People will always want to pitch in and help (and if they don’t, you may want to look at who you are friends with). Don’t feel bad about getting your friend to take the platter of nibbles around, or asking someone to open the wine.
- Keep things moving. Make sure everyone knows they have easy access to a bin so they can dump their scraps and bottles, rather than leaving little surprises for you to find later.
- The clean up. Nothing kills your buzz after hosting a great party than realising you have to wash up 30 dishes. My strategy is always ‘no food or drink left out’ – cockroaches and ants can sense a party – and then loading the dishwasher and abandoning ship. I don’t use my dishwasher all the time because the one we have is so big that it seems a waste to run it for two people, but it always gets a run (pardon the pun) when there’s a party. The good kids at Fisher & Paykel have a range of DishDrawer dishwashers to fit every space and requirement, which is perfect for small apartments because you can get half-sized drawer dishwashers. Anyway, load, set, and walk away. When you wake up the next day, everything is clean! Ok, the dishes are clean. If only there was an automated way to clean the bathroom.
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