Summer Entertaining Chez Vous – Some Trico Tips!

  • Home Owner TipsLifestyle
  • Friday, August 5, 2016

Why not entertain this summer and have your friends over for dinner gatherings? Entertaining doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you plan ahead, keep things simple and shop in advance, you’ll be the super host of your hood!

There are several things to consider when entertaining guests. Food, drinks, decorations and activities are the main factors you’ll want to take care of. Luckily, we’re here to help!

Step 1: Plan ahead

Are you hosting a potluck where your friends are bringing snacks and entrees, or are you Chef de Cuisine at home and cooking up a storm for your loved ones? If you plan on having a potluck, we advise you to let your guests know far in advance – at least 2 weeks – so they have plenty of time to pick a dish, buy the appropriate ingredients and prepare it for you and your friends to enjoy!

Another thing to consider is if you plan on having a theme for your event. Perhaps Mexican food for a Cinco de Mayo party? Class it up with a garden-themed dinner? There are so many fun themes you can plan dinners around, so give that a thought. A good place to start is looking around farmers’ markets to see what’s available seasonally.

Once you’ve decided what kind of event you’d like to host, make a detailed menu so you can get shopping!

Step 2: Make a budget

Keep in mind costs add up very quickly, so we advise you to search for deals ahead of time on everything from hors d’oeuvres to drink garnishes. Visit wholesale stores like Costco, Wholesale Club and Bulk Barn if you plan on buying a large quantity of anything.

Decorations can be expensive, especially fresh flowers. Look into creating your own decorations, as DIY decor is usually very affordable and will give your event a personal touch.

When shopping for ingredients, you may have to visit different specialty and ethnic stores for hard-to-find items. Calgary has everything from Italian boutique markets to Mexican meccas, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for.

Step 3: It’s all in the details

If you haven’t made a Pinterest account yet, this may be the time to do so. The website dubs itself as the ‘World’s Catalog of Ideas’, and this is no tall tale. On Pinterest you’ll find recipes, decorating ideas, crafts, and everything in between. Create boards for each category (e.g. Recipes, Backyard Party, Mexican Themed Dinner, etc.) and you’ll be able to access them later.

For decorations, we love easy and affordable DIY items that aren’t too time-consuming:

  • Mason jars – Cheap, available at most grocery stores and stylish – what’s not to love?
  • Locally available foliage (spruce in the winter, pumpkins in the fall, and lilacs in the spring, for example).
  • For charger plates and centerpieces – wood slabs or wood slices that are approximately 1′- 1.5′ inches thick.
  • Tissue paper pom poms – these are incredibly easy, beautiful and available in any colour!
  • Spray painted wine bottles – fish your old bottles out of your recycling bin and head to your nearest home hardware store for colourful spray paint!
  • Burlap – we love this rustic country trend on everything!
  • Ambient lighting – you can find affordable lighting from big box retailers such as Costco or even second hand ones from Kijiji and the like. We love tiki torches for an exotic look!

Step 4: Dress up your food

We recommend ‘tried and true’ recipes that you’re confident with for entertaining rather than trying something new hours before your guests arrive. If you do want to experiment, do a trial run a few days beforehand to make sure your dish is a success!

Keep your guests from going hangry before dinner with simple hors d’oeuvres. Try one (or all!) of these:

  • Charcuterie board: the ultimate entertaining staple. Use a beautiful wood cutting board as your base. If you don’t have one, you can cheat with a plank of wood from the local hardware store – but be sure to wash and oil it before using it to serve. Next, grab all your charcuterie – meats, pickles, olives, cheese, crackers, dip, etc. Arrange everything on your board and voila! Easy peasy.
  • Chips and salsa: why not step this classic up by serving your salsa out of a pineapple? Just slice open a pineapple along the side, scoop out the fruit and fill the ‘bowl’ with salsa. Don’t settle for boring chips! Tortilla chips from heirloom corn comes in blue, yellow and even green. Using a variety of colours will give your dish a festive look.
  • Anything on a skewer! This is essentially a deconstructed charcuterie board – just toss some olives, cheese and meat on skewers and serve them as individual hors d’oeuvres.

Step 5: Have fun!

One thing you should remember is to RELAX! Channeling your inner Martha Stewart doesn’t mean everything needs to be perfect. Remember that your friends are over to see you, so sit back, relax and enjoy your evening. Oh, and don’t forget to thank your friends for sharing this special night with you!

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