25 surefire entertaining tips
As we head into the busiest entertaining season of the year, it's all too easy to get overworked and overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in organizing the perfect get-together. But, as our readers reveal, your guests will only enjoy themselves if you're enjoying yourself too. So, we asked readers to share their surefire entertaining tips. Here's their advice for breezing through the busiest time of the year.
1 During a special occasion dinner party, I always ensure that I have a small gift for each guest at the dinner table (i.e. handmade Christmas ornaments, chocolates, etc). I also take special note of guests' specific likes/dislikes and ensure that during future visits I add a personal/special touch for each guest, much to their delight!
Brenda Kennedy, Toronto Ont.
2 I make sure there are lovely blooms at each place setting.
Donna Medina, Whitby Ont.
3 I always plan ahead as much as possible and entertain on a fun themed note. I've found that most people enjoy themed get-togethers; not only are they fun but they make for great and interesting conversations. Your imagination is the limit!
Ronald Riedel, Surrey B.C.
4 Don't get anxious about any event where you're the entertainer. Parties are supposed to relieve stress, so make sure that you stay as cool as you want your party to be.
Kathlene McGuinness, Victoria B.C.
5 Invite only friends, no critics!
Jackie Przybylowski, Caledonia Ont.
6 Place a basket of fun slippers by the door. Our house is all hardwood that gets cold in the winter so guests are invited to take off their shoes and put on some fun slippers (all are different) It's a great conversation starter and practical!
Lana Lounsbury, Victoria B.C.
7 Use small Christmas twinkle lights year round on the patio or deck. It creates either an intimate feeling or a fiesta party feeling depending on the colours used.
Monica Petruskavich, Winnipeg Man.
8 It is not so much about what you are serving, but why. Just remember that although great food is fabulous, the company always improves the flavour of the event. Make sure that all the guests feel welcome and ensure that everything involved allows for mingling.
Korol Carol, Melfort Sask.
9 Sit back and enjoy the evening with your guests. An on-edge host makes for on-edge guests!
Sonya Rotondi, Oakville Ont.
10 As a mother of two young boys, I'm not afraid to ask for help! When family or friends bring a dish to share it really lightens the load.
Jillian Rothwell, Kingston Ont.
11 I find out something special about my guests and tailor individual parting gifts for each. The gifts are a surprise and create quite a stir at the end of an evening.
Kim Burry, Grafton N.B.
12 Try not to have an over-abundance of chairs lined up against the wall—fewer chairs and in groupings encourage guests to mingle.
Deanna Lueder, South Sechelt B.C.
Angela Duffy, Cambridge N.S.
14 When I'm entertaining, I want to be part of it—so, I put together as many make-ahead items as possible, so my time in the kitchen is a small part of the evening. And if we're serving anything new, we give it a whirl a week or so ahead so we can make sure it's perfect for our guests.
Cheryl Losch, Strathroy Ont.
15 Strive for elegance, yet simplicity when entertaining:
Tip #1: preparation in advance allows the host to be an integral part of the conversation with your guests. Being in the kitchen constantly lends itself to other guests feeling guilty if they don't offer you a hand.
Tip #2: Make an appetizer that invites curiosity—it will start the flow of conversation immediately.
Laurie Kingdoq, Vancouver B.C.
16 I invite guests for dinner to benefit a good cause, like the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Guests are always happy to contribute to a good cause.
Marie-Claire Hurteau, Montreal Que.
17 It's very important to make your guests feel like you really want them to be in your home, be it by letting them choose the music, helping you make the salad or just sitting and relaxing.
Melanie Jantzie, Calgary Alta.
18 My surefire entertaining tip is not to sit couples who know each other together. That way they have to talk to people they don't know. Everyone always has a wonderful time plus they all meet new people.
Steven Singer, Ottawa Ont.
19 We have a group of six couples that meet every six to seven weeks at a different house for a dinner party. Instead of bringing host/hostess gifts, we bring a $20 cheque to go to breast cancer research. So it's great, every six to seven weeks you get a fabulous three or four course meal, plus cocktails and after dinner drinks for just $20, and the money goes to such a worthy cause.
Kathleen Ward, Gambo Nfld.
20 Always speak to every guest and make them feel an important part of the gathering.
Patricia Fulgham, Madeira Park B.C.
21 Always put out fresh flowers.
Brenda Lacourciere, Sudbury Ont.
22 Don't be afraid to ask for help!
Brenda Brelis, Calgary Alta.
23 I always have goodies in the freezer for unexpected guests. Whether it is fancy cookies or plain old butter tarts, everybody appreciates a yummy goodie!
Wilson Cordella, Houston B.C.
24 Always have extra money on hand to have taxis take your guests home after a few drinks.
Deborah Bell, Niagara Falls Ont.
25 Have fun and quit worrying about what people think.
Kellea Johnston, Newmarket Ont.