We are smack in the middle of BBQ season and you might be feeling the next nudge to host. Perhaps you’ve nailed your side dish and hostess gift a few times this summer, but the thought of inviting guests and executing your own gathering has you sweating in the air condition room you’re currently sitting in. What if we told you that the benefits of hosting can outweigh the stress? You don’t have to wake up the next morning wishing you could have your life back! Here are a few tips for pulling off a party that leaves everyone well fed and no one with regrets.
1. Share the load:
First of all, do not, and we repeat, do not make every dish yourself unless you are a chef by hobby or trade trying out a new menu for work or fun! (That pretty much eliminates most people.) Even if you love to cook, making it all yourself is both expensive and a huge time commitment. Pick one of these themes and communicate up front when you extend the invite. Here are a few examples that work:
- “We have the main dish covered, please bring a dish to pass and a beverage to share!” (Grilled salmon, grass fed burgers, or spatchcock chicken anyone?)
- “We are crafting cocktails and chilling beers, waters, and Rosé for this Saturday at 7 PM. Bring a hearty appetizer to share and we’ll end with Granita!”
- “We are firing up the grill this Friday–BYOM to grill and a dish to pass. We’ll have the beverages and desserts!”
2. Prep food ahead:
Whether you are making appetizers, dessert, cocktails, or the main dish, pick a recipe or style you can prep ahead of time. Marinating meat isn’t something you always take time for on a weeknight basis. Now is the time and the results can be fabulous. Meat and veggie skewers are an easy way to plan ahead portion sizes making sure you have enough for each guest. Try Indian Spiced Grilled Skewers with vegetables and/or chicken or Sambal Chicken Skewers for a sweet and spicy hit.
3. Name the theme:
Should you go with a specific like Indian, Mexican, or Korean BBQ, name it. Guests will pick up on a theme and often, without any intense coordination needed, the ingredients will mix and match. If you sense your crowd might play it safe bringing multiple bowls of chips and salsa, make the requests specific and ask for a test exchange sign-up on the courses.
4. Make an appearance:
However you plan, think ahead about what you can do to join your own party. While the introverts among us might not mind disappearing into the kitchen to prep the dessert, the one thing holding you back from hosting again might be that you missed out on all the catching up and laughs heard from across the yard. Prep as much as you can ahead of time and shave off the disappearing act so you participate in most of your event. Since your guests said yes to coming, they want to see you.
5. Laugh it off:
Did the meat get overdone while your friend was doing stand-up? Did the grill master forget to read that one part of the recipe that said, “Let it rest before cutting!”? Let it go. The point of the party is not perfection but the gathering of friends and sharing good food and laughs for a night. The best gift you can possibly give to friends is not stressing out over the small stuff, and dare we say even looking like you don’t have it all together. Yes to more of that. Most importantly, your friend sensing the next nudge to take the hosting baton might actually feel empowered to do so after watching how chill it can be.
Truth be told, hosting a party is more work than showing up at one, but the chance to bring your people together for some laid back summertime fun can be worth it.