How to Host a Super Party

1/26/2015 - 7:14:07 AM

It’s getting late, you’ve ran around the house cleaning up the last little bits of ordinary life, and there’s still about an hour to go before guests start coming. You’re a little nervous, of course, because you want everybody to have fun, love the food, and feel relaxed and at home you’ve been thinking through this party for weeks. From entertainment, to food, to getting the setting all prepped it’s all easier said than done and that last little rush prepping food, laying out the table or buffet, washing dishes, mixing drinks and putting together the appetizer leaves you flustered, not to mention your husband and kids as well.

Of course when it’s the big game coming up, you know that no one is going to be picky about what they eat, as long as it’s good and doesn’t require them to pay attention to the food as it’s going into their mouth. But those details sure don’t take care of themselves, and we end up rushing around trying to make game time anyway.

  • Get the chicken into the oven 
  • Mix the punch and get it over by the cups
  • The cups haven’t been set up
  • Get the cups, try to remember where the napkins are
  • What is that sound, is someone pulling in? Check. 
  • Whew, no one yet
  • Wipe up spill
  • Grind coffee 
  • Pull out the paper plates 
  • “Someone’s here!”
  • Add 100 little details

Whew. If an informal get together is this hard, how hard is a formal meal? How do you pull everything together and welcome your guests? Formal or big game it all starts with the prep. You can’t avoid certain hustle and bustle on the evening thereof, but you sure can keep from flying around in a tizzy.

1. Figure out what kind of party

Usually when you throw a party you already have a good idea what you want, but putting a little pre-thought into the type of party can make the difference in how hard the planning and prep is. For example. If you’re going to host the big game, it’s perfectly ok to divvy out who brings what, or you can even leave it up to the guests if you’re a free spirit. For this type of party anything goes and the main point is to get together and watch football.

2. Figure out who you want there

This may come as a surprise, but when you are the host you get to pick who comes and while it’s good to get outside the box and get to know people you don’t know, it’s equally ok to have all your best people there. Either way try to fit together people who enjoy each other and have some things in common to talk about. By the same token invite a couple of people who really help a party to flow, and can come up with interesting conversation starters if you have to leave the room to get food ready. Of course for the big game, everyone is more there for the football and the food than anything else, so it won’t matter as much, as long as everyone is rooting for the same side.

3. Prep

Prep as much as you can the week before the party. Rank food items by what has to be gotten ready the actual night of the party, and then figure it backward. If it needs to be in marinade, chopped, diced, sauteed, pureed or baked and won’t be hurt by sitting or being rewarmed, do it. You’ll thank yourself at the party.

4. Give ‘em a drink

The number one way to get guests at home and comfortable within a few minutes is to hand them a drink. Doesn't matter what it is, it can be anything seasonally appropriate (or not) from water to lemonade to a macchiato. The big thing is that personally welcoming them and making sure they have a starter drink makes them feel like you really want them there and will put them at their ease. If you’re having best friends over its still a great touch, and anyone will appreciate having something to do with their hands when they first enter the room.

5. Keep your menu simple

There are times to make a splash, but that time isn’t every time, and we’ve found it better to have 1-2 dishes to make that splash instead of making every dish the best. Showcasing one thing (i.e. complicated) makes a better effect when the rest of the dishes are kept at a minimum. For example, with the poppers below, we included a few other simple appetizers you can pick up anywhere, like a bag of vegetables and crackers to eat with hummus or dip, and a few chocolates to round up some good eats.

6. Relax and keep your evening simple

Most of us don’t have people to do the work for us, so this means inevitably you’ll spend time in the kitchen, but if you’ve done your homework and prep and kept your menu simple you should be able to enjoy the time much more. And hey, if you didn’t use paper plates, the dishes will keep for later. Also, if you’ve set up games for everyone, or you’re watching football, join everybody else and have some fun. After all some of the reason they came was because you invited them, and they want to see you too.

Jalapeño Hot Poppers

This is one of those splashy appetizers that everyone loves, guys and girls, and is a cinch to pull together.

Preheat oven to 375°F

  • Fresh jalapeños (around 20) 
  • Brick of cream cheese
  • Pound of bacon

You might not need all the bacon, but for now go ahead and cut it into halves, as well as the peppers. Depending on how hot you will want the peppers take out all the seeds (less hot) or leave some in (spicy). Once the peppers are prepped take a knife and spread cream cheese inside the hollows until they are somewhat filled (too full and the cream cheese may bubble out in the oven) and wrap them with bacon.

Lay the stuffed and wrapped jalapeños single rows on a cookie sheet, or if a baking rack is available lay that on top of the sheet and bake jalapeños on rack to allow the grease to drop to pan below. Otherwise you can set them on paper towels later to soak up the grease.

Bake for 20-25 minutes and serve almost immediately. Instant crowd pleaser.

May the best team win!

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