Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or having a few friends over for a cozy evening at home, turning everyday moments into special celebrations is easier than you might think. To help you elevate your hosting style, today’s entertaining guide shares tips to easily and effortlessly impress your guests. Plus, learn tips on how to prepare in advance and minimize stress, so that you can relax and enjoy the experience.
Home Entertaining Ideas That Elevate Your Hosting Style
Set The Mood
One of the most common mistakes that hosts make when entertaining at home is that they don’t think about setting the mood. They’re often consumed with preparing the food and setting out the beverages that they forget to think about ambiance. However, the atmosphere you create in your home can either help guests relax and unwind, or make them feel uptight and tense. That’s why I’m a big believer in using dimmable lights, as it’s a simple adjustment that makes a big impact on your home environment.
Since most dimmable lights (especially under-counter lighting) can become expensive, especially if you need to hire an electrician, a quick and budget-friendly solution is to install smart lighting.
One of my favorite options is the Philips Hue Shape Light, which pairs with your smart home system (such as Google Home). Not only can you install the lighting strip where you need it (such as under your cabinets, to add an ambient glow and provide task lighting for cooking), but it can also be dimmed with a simple speech command. The strip lighting comes with a self-adhesive backing, so it can be quickly installed and easily removed (without damaging walls or other surfaces).
This innovative light strip can also change temperature and color, depending on your mood and preference. For example, to create a warm, relaxing environment, I set my lighting to “incandescent”. However, you can change this to suit your taste or even for special occasions (like orange lighting for Halloween or green for Christmas).
Whenever I’m preparing food, I set the lighting to 100%. However, when it’s time for dinner or before my guests arrive, I dim the lights to 50% to create a softer effect in the kitchen.
Have Appetizers & Wine Ready To Serve
Before your guests arrive, I highly recommend preparing appetizers and chilled wine in advance. You don’t need to labor over these light bites, as frozen appetizers (such as these delicious puff pastry bites from Trader Joe’s) are a wonderful option since they can be popped into the oven 30-minutes prior to your guests arriving.
This is a great way to greet your guests and help them relax, prior to serving dinner. Plus, it will give you a bit more time to work on the main dish while your guests get started.
Prepare Ingredients in Advance
When I first started entertaining at home, I would labor over the dishes and spend more time in the kitchen than with my guests. Not only was it stressful, but it also prevented me from actually enjoying the company of my guests. That’s why I’ve learned to prepare all my ingredients in advance.
For example, if I’m making a tossed salad, I will set aside all the pre-measured ingredients in bowls prior to my guests arriving. This way, I can quickly and easily toss it all together just before we eat. This takes the guesswork and the extra labor out of the way, so I can focus on enjoying being a hostess.
Plan Your Food & Wine Pairings
If you know you’ll be serving appetizers before dinner, think about the type of wine or beverage that would pair well with those light bites. The same goes for the main meal you plan to serve. If you have to chill a bottle or two of wine before your guests arrive, do it. The more that you can plan ahead, the easier it will all be when guests get there. For expert ideas on which foods pair well with different wines, check out this food and wine pairing guide on I&C.
Set The Table
Generally the night before or the morning of the event, I like to set the table. This helps me prepare place settings, centerpiece arrangements, and even think about the types of serving trays and utensils I’ll want to use. By setting the table well in advance of your guests arriving, it’s one less thing to think about by the time your dinner party starts. Plus, it impresses your guests when they show up, as they can see the planning and preparation you did.
Serve Dishes Family Style
One of the best entertaining tips I can offer is to serve dishes family style. Large platters of food (from main entrees to side dishes) enable your guests to choose which foods and how much they want. Plus, it means that you don’t have to spend more time in the kitchen plating each meal. Not only does this cut down on your time, labor, and effort, but it also helps to prevent wastage too, since people can serve themselves.
Feel Comfortable & Just Relax
If there’s one final thing I’ve learned over the years as a host, it’s that your attitude sets the tone for your party. When you feel comfortable, are dressed in an outfit you like, and can just relax, your guests will feel more at ease too. That’s why I love laid-back yet pulled-together outfits like a pair of skinny jeans, a cute bodysuit, and a stylish moto jacket.
For more home entertaining tips and ideas, check out the Entertaining section on Inspirations & Celebrations.