source: Life of Reily
A cosy supper at home is probably one of my favourite ways of entertaining!
What is nicer than having old friends arriving to a home filled with lovely food smells, nice tunes and lots of stories to catch-up on?
My party inevitably end-up around the kitchen counter. Not sure if it is the food smells, or the fact that it is also the warmest spot in the house! Either way, I am not complaining, I don’t miss out on any chatter and can keep an eye on the food or finish-up with the last minute prep work.
It might be considered informal, but I do believe that when you invite people over, you should make a little bit of an effort – so set the table – even if it is in the kitchen – it is just good manners. Now you don’t have to break out the heirloom china, but small touches can really make a big difference to create a relax and informal atmosphere.
My fool proof tips for casual entertaining
Create a nice play list for your informal dinner – this can be done well in advance and is really an instant mood-enhancer. I’ve done it for you, just click here!
Dimmer switches – turn down the lights (I swear by dimmer switches on almost all of my overhead lighting). If you don’t have dimmers on your light switches, I suggest you make use of strategically placed table- & standing lamps. Puddles of light is so much warmer and inviting than a 3000 watt light showing the strain of the past week on your face – nooooo!
Candles – the more the merrier! An instant and cheap way of getting some atmosphere going.
Place them all over the house – a whole bunch at different heights on a side table can look lovely and they are also brilliant in demarcating areas of your elegant informal gathering – possibly one on your bar car/drink area? I even use my big flower vases – just fill them one third with water, and place a floating candle in them – give it a try – it looks fantastic!
Dress your table – it does not have to be fancy, but show your appreciation of their company. And top of the list here is fabric napkins. Paper ones I only deem fit for kiddies parties, picnics & road trips – otherwise, I believe they should be banned! Tea lights in different votives, a pitcher of water, with water glasses and some wine glasses, should do the trick.
Do a Recce on the Rest room – make sure your rest room is up to scratch. Guaranteed, somewhere during the course of your supper party, someone would need to frequent this facility! Make sure there is enough hand towels, soap and loo paper. I normally place a candle of three in here as well – even with the light off, it seems just that little bit more inviting. Should you not have a dedicated guest restroom, and another bathroom would need to do the job, make sure the debris of the kids’ bath time has been dealt with. Wet towels and dirty clothes certainly does not leave a good impression, even with old friends.
Know their tipple of choice – they are old friends, so make sure you are stocked with whatever tickles their fancy. Even better having your bar cart set-up before they arrive – with ice, chilled wine or whatever it is that you know they will enjoy!
Something snacky to kick it off with – I don’t believe that for an informal gathering such as this, you need to serve a starter. You could get away with a killer bread and pate from your favourite deli – it takes the stress off and leaves you to focus on your guests.
I normally serve these on big wooden trays, and can be enjoyed informally around the kitchen counter, whilst all are enjoying a drink. It also leave breathing room, for last-minute prep-work on your side.
Have the upper-hand on the kids – they’re your old friends, so you’ll want to see their kids as much as you want to see them (if they are not the bratty kind….). Inevitably, we eat late – with all the catching-up to do, one quickly loses track of time. Fed kids in my book, means happy, calm kids. Nothing worse than grumpy, hungry, tired kids for which you are not prepared – it can really spoil a perfect evening. My solution – I feed them early – I pre-prep a kiddie-friendly meal (Mac & Cheese is an old favourite) and voila, calm, happy kids. I also set-up a nice ‘calm play area’ for after the meal – board games work well, or a movie of their choice. All of these, can be done beforehand, which again, takes the stress off.
Keep the meal simple – the whole point is to spend time with your friends – not the time to try a ridiculously complicated 300-step recipe, involving blow-torches, and other funny gadgets. We are have our fall-back, foolproof recipes. And possibly one they’ve enjoyed at your house before! No harm in serving that again.
Something Sweet to round things off – again, this is up to you, should you prepare the dessert yourself, get it out of the way early in the day – or again rely on your favourite deli.
One thing less to stress about. What about a combo of lovely turkish delight & dark chocolate served with a coffee? If no dessert is on offer, a good quality Port can work wonders – especially during winter!
Ok, so there you have it – that’s how I do it. Our resident chef, Alet, has put together a cosy supper menu for us – I’ll be posting the recipes during the cause of this week. This is what we’ll be dishing up:
Chocolate ganache with salted caramel tartlets
Tomorrow, we’ll kick-off with that oozy baked cheese with the winter nuts and honey – click here if you want to sign-up, to not miss out on any of our recipes! Tomorrow will also mark the introduction of our fabulous contributors – Alet for the art on the plate and our resident photographer, Daniela, for her beautiful pics. Just can’t wait……
Lovely week to you all,