Lessons In Being a Hostess

To celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary I decided to invite our wedding party over for brunch as a thank you and to get practice being a hostess.  I changed blogs after getting married because I’m starting a new phase in my life.  My first blog was about finding myself. My second was experiencing life as a young adult on my own and in a relationship. This blog is about me being the person I want to be.  What I want most is to be a classic, quintessential lady.  I’m a long way from where I want to be but I’m enjoying the journey.

To hone my hostess skills I limited myself to brunch when we have large groups over.  First at Easter, then Father’s Day and now our wedding party brunch.  Thankfully, each event was successful but I also learned a lot along the way.

  1. Create a simple menu.  Simplicity is always difficult to embrace but for the best.  Doing too much is stressful and your guests will appreciate whatever you offer.  
  2. Establish a timeline.  I’ve learned to write down a detailed timeline for cooking so that everything is ready to serve at the same time.  This has been a major stress reducer. I don’t panic about one dish while working on another because I know I have time to make both.  Not only do I feel better but the food tastes better because I’m not distracted (i.e. forgetting ingredients).
  3. Prepare as much as you can the night before.  Since I’ve been having guests over for brunch I’m very busy in the mornings.  When I’m too busy I’m crabby and not a friendly hostess.  For this reason I set up as much as I can the night before.  I clean, set the table and cook anything that keeps overnight.  I’ve learned with experience that a lot can be done in advance; therefore, when it’s time to start cooking I can mix things together and save a lot of time.
  4. Clean as you go.  I hate having a messy kitchen when company is over.  Some dirty dishes are unavoidable but I like to clean as I go to limit the mess.  Another plus for cooking the night before is that dishes can be washed and put away before more are created.  I also like to clean and rinse the dishes between courses to maintain some order.  I’m not sure if that’s the “right” thing to do yet or not.
  5. Plan to serve a meal 15-20 minutes after the time you tell people to arrive.  This was my biggest lesson of the year.  I always had my food ready for eating as soon as guests were set to walk through the door. This was silly.  One, people are usually late.  Two, it’s better to let people relax for a minute before rushing them to the table.  Now I’ve learned to have food prepared at the start time but I keep it covered/warmed so I can greet guests properly (and without an apron).
  6. Don’t cook for an army.  I have nightmares about not having enough food but I’ve learned to not cook too much.  I think it’s something that comes with practice and so far I’m getting better at gauging how much food I need to buy.

I LOVE having a formal table setting on a regular day and dressing up the table for a special occasion is one of my favorite things.  I was excited to find that I kept ALL of the namecards from the head table (they have fun stickers on the back designating each person). I was nervous about having assigned seating but I think it worked out well and conversation flowed throughout the meal.  As an added bonus I also recreated our centerpieces.

It was a GREAT day and I’m thinking if making it a tradition. 

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