Like most event planners, I’m an over-doer. I go above and beyond, even when I don’t need to. I find that people who love to entertain are often the same – we stress about having enough hors d’oeuvres for our dinner parties and end up with leftovers for weeks.
Case in point: last week I was asked to pull together a quick ice cream sundae bar for a meeting. Most people think, ice cream, chocolate syrup, maybe sprinkles and M&Ms? I brought out a display of toppings that included fresh berries, crushed oreos and waffle cones, candy and three types of sauce (chocolate, caramel and strawberry). Did I overdo it? You betcha.
I’m the same at home – I want to overdo. This isn’t the same as not editing your ideas – this is just about deciding when to overdo. I will go above and beyond for a client but do I need to go above and beyond for friends and family? I want to, but often the price is too high – I miss out on the conversation and fellowship which is the very reason I hosted people in my home.
I was reading an article in Real Simple on backyard entertaining last month which featured David Stark, the great event designer. He said that it was okay to keep it simple, that “The second you start doing things that become too involved, you become the caterer, not the host.” So wise!
I know that my penchant for overdoing is not easily overcome, but I try to compensate by doing as much as possible before my guests arrive. I have a stash of recipes that are perfect for making the night before if I’m having friends over for dinner after work. I prefer to host parties on Saturday evenings rather than Fridays so I have the afternoon to prepare. I try to be realistic (keyword: try) regarding what I can actually accomplish. And I have resigned myself to dishes piling up and a huge cleanup after the last guests leave, I’d rather be sitting with my guests and a glass of wine rather than washing dishes as I go.
What are your tricks for entertaining at home and keeping it simple?
Photo via Alice Q. Foodie