8 Entertaining Tips from a Pro

As far as I’m concerned, as soon as the calendar flipped to October 1st, my mind clicked into entertaining mode. From Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, I’m ready for cooler weather (ie dinner’s on the patio), holidays, and dinner parties with family and friends.
I’m a professional chef, and have worked many different kinds of events. I now take that preparedness that comes from working large scale events, and have brought it into my smaller at home events.

Which leads to my Entertaining Tips:

  1. Plan it out – I mean everything. I start with making a list of everything that needs to be done, and classify these tasks into two groups – what can be done in advance and what needs to get done day of. Then I plan everything around my current schedule. From picking up flowers to leaving some time to get myself ready before guests arrive. I used to just wing it, but have found that the more prepared I am, the more I can enjoy myself.
  2. Keep it simple – This is not a time to try a new recipe. You don’t need 15 apps and 4 desserts. You can have an amazing dinner party over a beautifully roasted chicken, with a couple sides. So put away those insane recipes and do something you know you can execute well. You also want something that will allow you to spend time with your guests. One of my favorite dinners is to do custom pizzas, but it usually requires me to man the oven the whole night. So I make the night super casual, having guests sit in the kitchen with me.
  3. Have apps waiting when guests arrive – My mom is one of the best when it comes to throwing dinner parties and entertaining. One of the things that she does that I have always loved is to have appetizers and drinks ready to go as soon as guests walk in the door. I like simple bites that can be eaten with your hands, and in a grazing fashion, so my guests can hangout in the kitchen with me. Remember to think about how your guests will eat the apps (and all the dishes). So for example, having apps that require a knife and fork, while expecting your guests to wander around and mingle doesn’t really work. Consider the party you are having and adjust your menu for what works.
  4. Hire a cleaning crew – Total luxury item, in my opinion. (The one thing I always say I would get if I won the lottery is a cleaning service to come every two weeks to my house. My husband thinks that’s crazy that this is the first thing I would want. However, everyone who is responsible for cleaning a house with kids trailing behind, destroying everything you just did, understands what I’m saying.) Before we have a dinner party, gathering, or just guests in town, I get a professional cleaning crew to come in and do a good cleaning. It saves me the frustration of trying to get it done with a toddler in tow.
  5. Preset your table/set-up your buffet – When I do pastry tables or buffets for my business, I love planning out ahead where things will go. It allows me a little time to look at it and make sure it looks beautiful. Plus you’re not rushing before guests arrive to set the table. The perfect example of some of the little things that can be done ahead of time.
  6. If someone offers help, take it. – I threw my own baby shower, with the help of one of my good friends. Some of my other girlfriends wanted to do something to help, so I accepted their offers of either borrowing chairs, them bringing a dish, or just help setting up and breaking down. It honestly made the event better, go more smoothly, and took one thing off my very pregnant plate.
  7. Don’t panic if your kiddos get a little extra screen time. – When we have people over for dinner, my daughter loves it. However, she’s also a toddler so she doesn’t really want to sit at the table and chat into the evening. We usually put on movies she loves and she wanders, watching her movie, and usually popping back up at the table to socialize. It works for us, especially if our guests do not have kiddos for our daughter to play with.
  8. Go with the flow. – I’m truly the worst at this, but issues are going to arise despite the best planning. The older I get, the more it makes sense to just go with the flow. You will have a better time, and so will your guests, if you aren’t stressed out.
I hope you enjoy the upcoming holidays with help from these entertaining tips. May all your gatherings bring laughter, delicious food, and go off without a hitch!
entertaining tips
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Rachel has lived in Arizona for 13 years, deeply loving all that the desert has to offer. She is originally from Pennsylvania.  She graduated from Penn State with a degree in print and photojournalism, exactly 60 years after her grandmother graduated. Rachel married her husband Scott, an engineer, in 2013, and they welcomde the sassy Dottie Grayce in 2016, on the hottest day of the year. Rachel is a professional chef, food writer and photographer, food stylist, and baby led weaning advocate. After working in many restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, and resorts, Rachel decided to launch her own company, Pistol Whipped Pastry, in 2011. Rachel has been a contributor for Arizona Vines & Wines Magazine, Stratejoy.com, Phoenix New Times, and Chow Bella blog. She has written pieces for the Christian Science Monitor, Green Living AZ, Phoenix Magazine, and YourZenMama.com. When not working, Rachel is hanging out with Scott and Dottie, fixing up their new home, traveling all around Arizona, drinking Arizona wine, gardening, and cooking for friends and family. You can also catch up with Rachel on her personal blog, Croissant In The City.



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