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Easy Home Entertaining

Having guests to your home doesn’t need to be stressful or break your bank. With a little creativity, planning and vision, you can create a memorable time for everyone, and even enjoy yourself.  Lets start with decor, there are great inexpensive stores that help make preparing a cinch, and decorations can be used year round, not just for the major holidays. Stop by IKEA, either online or in store, for lighting under $20 as well as plates, dishes, glasses, napkins, and pretty much anything you would possibly need for entertaining in large or small spaces.

Using ornaments hung on fish wire can make for a festive, simple and inexpensive total transformation of a space. Bringing out the champagne or wine glasses, regardless of what guests are drinking, lends to put people in a joyful mood. Colorful center pieces are unnecessary if you chose globes hanging and simple strands on lights across the space. With a little help from table clothes and cute napkins, candles and matching or mismatched dishes, guests will love the feel of the space and you will look like the rockstar you are.

Some simple investments like new candles, placemats, napkins, and serving bowls can make all of the difference, but my personal favorite is strands of lights. I love the variety IKEA has to offer like the starlight strands, to check them out click here. Another great spot for finding perfect items for entertaining is the newest kid on the block Urban Home, for under $300 you can add a Pub Table to your life which can give more storage, seating and table top  space.

Urban Home popped up in Southern California in the last year and has become a popular spot for gift giving to a hostess, college student or yourself. Inexpensive but well-made seems to be their motto, even carrying refurbished items for those conscious shoppers. West Elm is another housewares stop that we think is a must, a wide selection of furniture, accessories, table and kitchen items fill the store and celebrations are always a theme on display there. Below are some beautiful glass plates available online from West Elm that can be used as a mix and match table setting, guests will see something beautiful once their plates are empty – or before if you are doing buffet style serving (which we recommend if there is limited table space).

Serving on a buffet table allows for guests to select their own food, obviously easier for those who are picky, and can be much easier for large numbers. Finding the right way to display items can be frustrating if you lack space, so we suggest getting teired serving dishes that make more space and look great.

Items like bread, cheeses, fruits and individual desserts fit perfectly on thin towers. Bed Bath & Beyond also carries a variety of options for teired serving platters, the one below is great for veggies, holding enough for 8-10 people. Buying anything from BB&B always comes with a 20% off discount, assuming you’ve signed up for their weekly mailers, if not sign up online now and start to receive right away. The veggie tray is under $20 with the discount!

Now that you have some inspiration for styling the entertaining space, make sure you have something fun for your guests to do because sometimes even the best conversations can’t last forever. Having the right music sets the mood and increases the possibilities for people to let loose and even possibly dance, new school will tell you to use Spotify, Pandora or Songza – all of which are great – but I prefer old school meaning some records, a personalized mix CD or iPod play list set for the exact group you’re having over and timed right. If you have a group that loves to sing, which in LA is a pretty typical thing, you can also download Sing Karaoke Anywhere , always a good time. Personally I prefer interactive games and at the top of my list is Pervartistry , its great for groups, and each draw instructs you to either act the word or phrase out or draw it, a hilarious twist is each card has something totally perverse – or maybe not at all – making everyones minds go straight to being perverse when sometimes its an innocent as the word Kitten. (not for children obviously).

Deciding what to serve guests should be as fun as decorating, but first and foremost make sure you know each guests food requirements, allergies, etc. After determining what is good for everyone, making some simple starters such as Hummus with Veggies (great for anyone with allergies), 7 Layer Taco Dip, or Raw Vegan Stuffed Cucumbers. The entrees should be hearty as you never know how hungry your guests might be and certainly never want to have anyone leave hungry.

Italian, Mexican, or Cuban dishes are all very easy to make for large groups and naturally by design are delicious in large portions. Lasagna is great as it can be made for meat lovers as well as vegetarians, my personal favorite recipe online is from Bon Appetite and can be doubled for a larger party.

Mexican Tortilla Buffett is one of the easiest ways to create multiple options for guests, you can create steak, chicken, and veggie only choices to fill the tortilla bowls with. Cuban Ropa Veija is an amazing dish, really great for meat lovers, but can also be edited with seitan or tofu too. If you’re planning a more casual get together, pot-luck is always a fun idea too, each guest brings a dish of their choice and everyone gets to try something from everyone. This can be done with beverages.

Few things can end a party more quickly than running out of booze, so . Great rules of thumb: every guest will drink an average of two drinks an hour and one drink each hour thereafter, 40% prefer to drink beer, 30% drink hard liquor, and 30% drink wine. When calculating quantities, know a 1-liter bottle of alcohol yields about 22 mixed drinks. For more help check out Evite’s Drink Calculator for planning, they also have an awesome list of recipes for both alcoholic cocktails and virgin drinkers. Offering a few set ups of pre made cocktails themed to the party, or the season, another great idea and inexpensive is a “Wine Tasting” theme where everyone brings a bottle and you simply supply enough “extras” for the tastings, I strongly suggest encouraging a lot of water drinking too. Again, if you plan to supply all drinks, make sure you know your guests likes and dislikes, and if you need extra help with serving, i.e. you prefer a bartender, ask your favorite local bartender if she/he is free that night as often times you can hire them for a few hours easily.

Hopefully this offers you some insight and makes your home entertaining a little easier. Cheers!



Posted on: November 15, 2014