Be a Hostess, not a Hostage: Get out of the kitchen and enjoy the party!

It’s the end of the summer.  You decide to throw your final soiree of the season.  Nothing fancy, just the usual backyard barbeque menu.  Chicken, hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, and the like.

You only plan to have a couple of people over, so no need to do any real planning.  As the week goes on, you have invited a few more people (and some have invited themselves), but the menu is simple so it’s not a big deal.  You decide to clean up a bit the night before and now you’re tired.  So you’ll go to the grocery store first thing in the morning, after all, you don’t need that much.

You decide to set up the tables and put out the chairs before you head to the store.  Ugh! It’s 10am already!  By the time you get back from fighting the crowd at the store, it’s 12pm and you haven’t even fired up the grill yet!  Guests start arriving and you’re working frantically to get everything ready.   Your guests are having a good time, but you aren’t aware, because you can’t get out of the kitchen!!

If this is not you, I’m sure you’ve been to this party before.  So, I offer a few tips to help you or someone you know become a better hostess and stop letting the kitchen hold you hostage.

Know your strengths, accept your weaknesses

I have a friend that lives by the mantra, “I am a party goer, not a party thrower.”  She clearly accepts that she is not interested in dealing with the details that come with planning events.   While I know Martha Stewart makes everything look easy, everyone does not have a penchant for entertaining and planning parties.  And if you’re in this category, that’s okay.  Instead of spending hours trying to channel your inner Martha Stewart to plan a 5 course dinner party, make reservations and spend the rest of the time shopping for something to wear to dinner.

If sweets are your thing, suggest a progressive dinner party and host the dessert course at your home.  This will allow you to prepare items that you enjoy and eliminate the stress of planning a full-blown event.

 Share your kitchen

I admit, I am definitely guilty of this one.  But most of the time, it’s because by the time my guests arrive, I am already putting the food on the table to be served.  The worst is the person telling you to go on and enjoy the party, while they are still cleaning the chicken.  We are offering to help you because we want to eat dinner some time before breakfast!!  So please, take the hint and take the help.

Small or large, you still need a plan

Whether you are having a few people over for a barbeque or planning your parents’ anniversary party, you need a plan.  Making a list of what needs to be done will help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

I always start with my guest list.  This helps me to make sure that the theme, menu and all my ideas will work in the location I have chosen.  Sometimes after you create the guest list, you realize that the small and simple gathering you had in mind is really much more complicated than you thought.  Having a plan will help you make adjustments before you realize you have more guests than you have space.

Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself.  If you don’t like to cook, hire a caterer.  Do what you do best!  And in the end, if all you truly want to be is a hostess—hire a party planner:)

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