Entertaining at home is one of my favorite hobbies. I enjoy hosting dinners, brunches, and throwing parties-all of which involve copious amounts of food. Whether it's a simple dinner for four, a Sunday Brunch, or a more elaborate sit-down dinner, I like to prepare meals and see that my guests leave satisfied. Of course during these summer months the most we will do is cook out on the grill, or make a nice refreshing salad. At the heart of it all is my collection of cookbooks. I keep the core set of cookbooks in the kitchen (see photo above) and use these regularly. .
Sit Down Dinner for 32 is Easy!
The largest dinner party we have hosted at home was on New Year's Eve last year, for 32 dinner guests. While we did all of he cooking, I did hire several servers and a bartender. This kept me mostly out of the kitchen once the guests arrived. We cooked for two days preparing for that night, but it was a LOT of fun. I rented three round tables, chairs, linens and napkins (see below):
Atmosphere is very important when entertaining at home. Since this was a New Year's Eve dinner party, we made our own playlists of music, spliced a series of videos on the big screen TVs, floral centerpieces, and lots of candles.
How can you do all this too? Well, start with a plan:
2. Decide on a theme or a reason
3. Develop a budget- decide how much you want to spend. This will help affect how many people you can invite.
4. Write the guest list. If it's more formal, send invitations.
5. Develop the menu (you'll need a few cookbooks). Be sure to ask guests if they have any allergies or preferences
6. Most important rule when entertaining: know yourself. Consider your cooking skills, the size of your kitchen, and what you are good at. Don't try to be something you are not, because it will be evident. It's OK to stretch and try something new, but have other elements that are reliable and tested before you make them for the first time with dinner guests.
The Right Cookbooks
When I plan a menu, I flip through a variety of cookbooks and browse the Internet for ideas as well. You can always go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and browse their cookbook section for other ideas also. Here are some of my favorite and most reliable cookbooks at the moment:
Below: Williams-Sonoma Complete Entertaining and Simple Classics:
Below: Neiman-Marcus and surprisingly, the Princess Cruises "Courses" cookbook
Below: The Essential Finger Food Cookbook (great for appetizers) and the classic Fannie Farmer Cookbook is GREAT for basics and learning how to cook.
More Williams-Sonoma: The New American Cooking and Entertaining
As a side note, a few other favorites include: anything by Martha Stewart, and others: Delia Smith, Julia Child, Ina Garten and I'm starting to learn more of Rachel Ray's stuff too.
Do you have any favorites? Leave a comment, there's no charge today!