We love a good gathering, but even the best get-togethers can turn stressful if you’re not prepared to handle hosting duties. Next time it’s your turn to entertain, use these simple tips to keep yourself on task for an effortless evening.


Plan your menu with ease in mind

We like to pick a balance of different recipes – some go-to crowd-pleasers that we’ve made many times before, plus some new dishes that are easy to prep in advance. Choose foods that will work for your kitchen and your stove. When in doubt, go for dishes that can all be enjoyed at room temperature to avoid the pressure of timing each recipe’s serving window.


Ask about dietary restrictions

There’s nothing like realizing at the last minute that there’s nothing for your cousin to eat because every dish you made has dairy in it. Ask people if they have any food allergies or sensitivities they’d like you to be aware of, well in advance. No need to prepare a special meal for each guest; just make sure there are a couple of options. Your guests will be grateful and they’ll probably even offer to bring a dish to share. (And we say let them – see below).


Let your guests contribute

Once you’ve invited someone over it’s almost inevitable they will ask what they can bring. Instead of trying to be a superhero and insisting they arrive empty-handed, let them help. Many people will offer to bring a dish like an appetizer or dessert. Others may bring what they want to drink or a couple of bottles of wine. Let them! Anything your guests want to contribute will only add to the party and make your life a bit easier. If they ask for some direction, don’t be afraid to give suggestions or be direct about what you need. However, never rely too heavily on your guests. People will always forget things at home or show up later than you want them to. If it’s an essential item, like ice for cocktails, you don’t want to be left in the lurch.


Set up the day before

Doing as much as you can ahead of a get-together will save you heaps of time and stress on party day. Things like cleaning, setting the table, prepping an area for the kids to play and more can all be completed the day and night before your guests arrive. We like to handle the setup early so that the day of our gathering all that’s left to do is cook (preferably with a glass of wine in hand).


Start food prep early

It always helps to get ahead of your own schedule. What can you prep days ahead of the party? What can you do the morning of? Here are a few ideas:

  • Peel garlic a few days earlier and keep in an airtight container in the fridge
  • Wash, thoroughly dry and chop your herbs a couple of days ahead and store in an airtight container until you’re ready to cook
  • Slice cheeses and wrap well with plastic wrap, then keep in an airtight container until serving
  • Prep your veggies, just make sure to keep them dry and in an airtight container
  • Measure out any ingredients that are time-consuming to prep, so on party day all you have to do is assemble your dish

Set out snacks

Keep hungry guests occupied (and out of your way) by having appetizers set out before they arrive. A cheese platter with different fruits, nuts, spreads and crackers is a simple, party-friendly way to keep your guests busy until you’re ready to serve dinner. For our tips on pulling together the perfect charcuterie board, check out the Sawatch Cheese Plate Starter Guide here.


Engage your guests

Giving your guests something to do together is a great way to get people connecting before or after dinner is served. Some ideas:

  • Create a DIY drink station with a couple of suggested recipes and all of the ingredients needed for guests to make their own cocktails.
  • Set the table with fun conversation starters to get your guests talking, getting to know each other better or just sharing a good laugh.
  • Turn a charcuterie board into a cheese and meat pairing experience. Put out a couple of cards with tasting notes or suggested combos, or encourage guests to experiment and write down their own favorite pairings. You can find some inspiration in our River Bear Meats x Sawatch Artisan Cheese pairing guide.

Follow these tips and there’s no hosting gig you can’t handle. Remember — enjoy yourself, and your guests will, too. Cheers!

Follow these tips and there's no hosting gig you can't handle. Remember - enjoy yourself, and your guests will, too. Cheers!