You don’t have to watch TV for long before you see adverts promoting those well known supermarkets specialising in immaculately presented food for entertaining at home. Not a lumpy sauce in sight, or a roast looking a bit too roasted. Every dessert has an air of perfection with its beautifully piped decorations, that any artist, worth their salt, would be proud of. Easy entertaining ideas are rarely top of the shopping list, but they can be.
No wonder we struggle, where our own entertaining skills are concerned. We want to be able to make those culinary masterpieces and if we can’t then we’ve failed.
Well guess again – failing to create something perfect, is perfectly ok.
Why Should You Let Go of Perfection?
Letting go of perfection can be really easy and you’ ll feel the freedom, as the heavy culinary weight is lifted from your shoulders and replaced by easy entertaining ideas.
It’s not about one thing, it’s about the whole thing
When you invite friends for a meal at your place, do you really think that they are only there for the food? Of course, we all say, “Come for dinner” or “We’ll cook for you”, but it’s not just about the food, it’s about the whole evening….from the minute they arrive.
How they are welcomed and made to feel at home in your home. The little touches you have created to make them feel special. It could be a cocktail made with their favourite tipple, or maybe something as simple as the serviettes depicting something that is close to their hearts.
Then, there are the drinks to accompany the whole evening and perhaps you have chosen a music genre that they absolutely love. Whatever you’ve thought about to make the evening special, will be noticed and remembered, make no mistake.
You will enjoy the art of entertaining at home so much more
If you work on the principle that your evening will have flaws, then you’ll be able to enjoy all the preparations, safe in the knowledge that it’s ok to make mistakes. The pressure is off and you’ll be more confident in your ability, so you will make less mistakes. It’s a win win situation for you and your friends.
Your friends will feel relaxed when they aren’t feeding off your worry
If you relax then your guests will relax. If they are your friends and know you well, then don’t be under any illusion that they will pick up on your stress levels. They will worry for you, which in turn will make them feel more stressed and no one wants to be invited to a night in, where the hosts are worrying and not enjoying.
How Do You Let Go of Perfection?
So how do you let go of perfection, whilst still creating an amazing time for your friends? By scaling down the evening and adding small gems of genius, to make it memorable.
Know your limitations
We know that we can’t all be brain surgeons and we accept that. So accept that you’re on a culinary journey where you are constantly learning. Don’t make a soufflé before you can boil and egg. Or if you do then make it a twice baked soufflé which is a much more forgiving dish.
Prepare in advance
If you are smart about what you make, and when you make it, then you can minimise the chances of things going wrong at your next get-together.
Decide on your menu, well in advance
Don’t make recipes that you haven’t tried and if you do, always have a plan b to fall back on.
Make a master shopping list so you don’t forget anything and make sure you can easily get hold of your key ingredients. There’s nothing more frustrating than thinking of a wonderful dish, then not being able to source the main ingredients.
Have a to-do timetable so you have a plan of what you need to do and more importantly, in what order.
If at first you don’t succeed….
If you give something your best shot and it doesn’t work, it’s ok. You’d be very unlucky if the whole get-together didn’t work, so accept that certain elements may not be as successful as you had hoped.
Learn from your mistakes, move on and always remember that the whole experience is not doomed to fail because you have made an error.
Develop your own entertaining style
Just because you’re not a wiz in the kitchen doesn’t mean that you can’t be an amazing host. It’s about playing to your strengths or creating new strengths. So, if you’re not ready to make a 10 course extravaganza for 20, then do something different.
Learn a signature dish, or perhaps some welcome nibbles, or what about being known for being ‘in the know’ about the latest and greatest wines? Put your personality into what you do and you’ll find it much easier and more rewarding.
How Do You Make Entertaining Fun?
It’s only a get-together and nothing terrible is going to happen if it doesn’t all go according to plan. If you are relaxed then there is less chance of things going wrong and more chance that you will enjoy the preparation.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
If you play scenarios over in your head, then you’ll be pretty much ready for anything.
One of your guests has a food intolerance you didn’t know about.? Always have something in the fridge or freezer that you can bring out and serve at the last minute.
Maybe you have a power cut just before your guests arrive? Light candles and bring out the cold things or fire up the BBQ.
It’s amazing how many disasters can be avoided by simply considering them as a possibility.
Get your friends involved
When your friends arrive, give them a job to do. It could be opening some bottles of wine or handing out the nibbles. Or make your meal more hands on by letting your guests help themselves or do it themselves – such as a pizza making evening or a chocolate fondu.
Focus on the little things
In the real world, it’s hard to make every element of your get-together totally perfect. However, if you focus on the details, you’ll be able to shine as the amazing host that you are.
So if you grow your own vegetables, serve them as part of your meal. If you make jams or chutneys, then offer them as an accompaniment. There is nothing better than adding the immortal words, “I made it myself” to wow your guests.
If you don’t have time to make something homemade, then buy locally produced vegetables and Savour the Seasons. Get to know your butcher or farm shop to find out what is made locally. You’d be surprised about the wonderful food that is lovingly produced on your doorstep.
Add some simple finishing touches, such as serving an unusual dessert wine with your pudding or making a stunning alcohol-free cocktail for the non drinkers of the group. Always remember that the little details go a long way, helping to make a big impact on your celebration.
Love your guests and enjoy their company
Aways remember why you have invited everyone around in the first place. It’s because you like them and you want to let them know how special they are. So plan first, then you can enjoy at your leisure. Savour the time you all have together.
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