How to be a Stress-Free Dinner Host

by - June 26, 2017

When it comes to hosting dinners some people come off as naturals. The table is perfectly set. The desserts are beautifully displayed. Meanwhile, there are those of us who find hosting to be incredibly stressful. As a natural introvert, hosting for me has always been a bit of a challenge. I love it, but it took me a long time to find a balance in obeying by all the social courtesies while still feeling comfortable. You may have a similar struggle if you are a self-described Type A. No matter your reason, here are a few tips to make your hosting experience as stress-free as possible.

1. Don't be tied to the clock.
This will be the biggest challenge for my fellow Type A's. My husband had to explain to me that setting a time for a gathering meant expecting people to be late. As someone who is perpetually prompt this was hard to grasp, but it is certainly true of our friend group. If we set a time for 6:30 people show up at 6:45 and realistically aren't ready to eat until 7:00 (or later), because they want to be able to socialize first. The best way to untie yourself from the clock is to have everything prepped, but wait to pop things into the oven until guests have arrived. It also helps to have an appetizer available, so that they can munch while you are finalizing dinner.

2. Get your guests involved.
Assuming your guests are also abiding by social courtesies, they will undoubtedly ask if there is something that they can do to help. I like to set aside specific tasks for my guests to assist with. It allows me to continue working in the kitchen while still being socially engaged. It also gives me control over what guests are helping with instead of them digging into whatever task is available.

3. Set up space.
In addition to getting your guests involved it helps to set up space where your guests can gather, socialize, and much on appetizers while you are setting up. We have a bar in our kitchen with stools that allows our guests to gather and chat while we are cooking. If you don't have an open concept, try setting up another area that's out of the way, but close enough that you can engage.

4. Let them bring dessert.
Another social courtesy your guests will likely abide to is asking if there is anything that they can bring to dinner. My husband is notorious for bringing dessert to dinner parties. Partially because he loves it, but it's also one of his many courteous gestures. Allowing your guests to bring a dessert of their choice allows you to focus on the main course.

5. Save the cleaning for later.
This is another challenge for me, because I hate seeing a mess, but cleaning while your guests are present can make them feel uncomfortable. You may still want to do some light pick up, but try simply gathering and stacking plates instead of scrubbing away while your guests beg to help. On the other hand, I'll admit that cleaning can come in handy for those guests who just seem to linger.

These tips have allowed me to be more engaged with my guests instead of stressing over the details. I'd love to hear your advice in the comments below.

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