(Family Features) Hosting a large group of family and friends can be overwhelming, especially if entertaining isn’t something you do often. No matter the occasion, these tips can help you avoid common party pitfalls so you can keep the focus on having fun.
Offer an assortment. Rather than attempting to plan the menu around a wide range of likes, dislikes, allergies and other considerations, simply create a menu that satisfies everyone’s cravings. If you’re serving a buffet, provide a mix of hot and cold dishes in a variety of tastes and textures. For a plated meal, offer several robust sides so if the main dish misses the mark for one or two guests, there’s no chance of anyone going hungry.
Create a beverage cart. The kitchen is likely to be a hotbed of activity, but setting up a remote beverage cart can help redirect some of that traffic. A cart or table with multiple shelves is ideal. Stock the cart with an ice bucket and tongs; garnish such as lemons, limes, olives and cherries; and an assortment of glasses. Offer a couple of bottled beers on ice (one light and one with a bolder flavor), at least one white and one red wine, and a couple of liquors that work with a wide array of mixers, such as vodka and rum. Round out the cart with a few mixers, including fruit juice so non-drinkers can enjoy mocktails as well.
Never compromise on wine. Lots of times, guests have wildly different tastes in wine and it can seem impossible to select a couple bottles that everyone will like. If you want to please everyone but worry you’ll end up with a stash of partially poured bottles, there is an alternative to pulling all those corks. The Coravin Wine System lets you serve wine without removing the cork, allowing your guests to pour as much or as little wine as they like (you can save the rest or what’s left for another day). Using a Coravin System is like having a wine bar in your house. Rather than settling for what is open, everyone can drink whatever they like, even if the entire group has dramatically different tastes. If someone wants to taste lots of different wines, they will have the freedom to do just that. Learn more at coravin.com.
Plan ahead for refills. Clear as much space as possible in the refrigerator for extras so you can easily replenish anything that runs out. Make extra pitchers of punch, and have bowls of popular items ready to replace as needed. For warm items, use the warming feature on your oven to hold dishes at serving temperatures, or simply leave the oven off and contain the precooked dishes’ warmth.
Remember to enjoy yourself. Your guests can easily sense when you’re frazzled or stressed, so plan ahead and get all your preparations completed well before anyone arrives. Then you’ll be ready to mingle, visit and set a warm and inviting tone for an event that everyone can enjoy.