When planning to throw a social gathering in your home, there are many different ways to do it and sometimes all the elements that are involved can frazzle even the most experienced of hosts. President and Founder of Elegant Affairs Caterers Andrea Correale helped give us the top ten tips to remember when throwing your own soiree at home.
1. Keep calm
Whether entertaining for five or fifty, the one thing you should start with is keeping the stress level down. “Planning a dinner party or get-together can be very overwhelming if you don’t prepare,” Andrea says. “Do as much work ahead of time as you can to keep yourself ahead of everything.” Some of these include clearing out the coat closet for your guests, selecting what music you’ll be playing ahead of time and putting together a master list of everything you need to get done to keep yourself organized.
2. Decide on the mingling space
“The first thing everyone does when they arrive is gather by the bar,” Andrea says. Deciding where your guests should mix and mingle is important to the ambiance of any party. Make sure you strategically place the bar where people can both easily grab a cocktail and socialize with each other. “Wherever you want people to go, put the bar there.”
3. Make your bar user-friendly
The simplest way to set up any bar is to have all the staples like vodka, rum, a dark liquor and wine. For an even easier option, have a pre-mixed signature cocktail for your guests to serve themselves with. “Make a little sign of what the drink is and set it out in a beautiful bell jar or punch bowl,” Andrea advises. “That will absolutely do the trick.”
4. Get enough ice
No matter what kind of shindig you’re throwing, ice is almost always a necessity, and one that usually runs out first. “Ice is always a pain in the butt, especially in the winter time,” Andrea quips. “In the summer, I’d say have four to five pounds of ice per person. In the winter, one to two pounds per guest is more than enough.”
5. Create a flow
Creating a path for guests to follow when they graze over food option as mingle keeps the party from becoming a traffic jam. “If you’re smart, you’ll have food on one side of the space and the bar with beverages on the other,” Andrea comments. The last thing you want is a backup at the buffet.
6. Don’t get stuck in the kitchen
“If you’re not utilizing a caterer, you’ll want to avoid going into the oven all night long,” Andrea advises. “This is uncomfortable for both the host and the guests as you can’t talk with them because you’re busy finishing food all evening.” Make sure all the food items are done before your party, if you can, and anything left in the oven is only there to keep it warm.
7. Master your buffet
Finding the right buffet items can be a tricky task, especially ones that keep well when put out. “Filet mignon and sirloin with different sauces and rolls sit out well in room temperature,” Andrea reveals. “Poached or roasted salmon also works well and is a filling dish people can gravitate to.” Try to aim for other items that can be kept out of the refrigerator, like a vegetable platter and nuts.
8. Keep up with the times
Nowadays, most people are much more health conscious than they used to be, opting for more nutritious and low-calorie options when it comes to food. “Don’t use regular potato chips. Opt for organic chips with a yogurt based dip instead of a mayonnaise one,” suggests Andrea. “Edamame and raw almonds are also healthy options to have your guests munch on.”
9. Don’t be afraid to delegate
Since a lot of details can go into party planning and you’re only one person, don’t feel you can’t ask some of your guests to pick up a few things for the evening, such as ice, extra napkins or a specific dessert. “It’s OK to ask for help when entertaining,” Andrea says. “Delegating not only takes stress off your shoulders, it also gets the other guests more invested in the event.”
10. Have fun with it!
You’re aiming to create a fun-filled evening for your guests. You should be enjoying it too! “Don’t let the process of preparing take away from the joy of entertaining,” Andrea adds. “Avoid stressing out, be creative, put your attention to the details and just have fun making it your own!”
Entrepreneur and celebrity caterer Andrea Correale is the President and Founder of Elegant Affairs Caterers. Her premiere catering and event planning company serves Manhattan, the Hamptons and Westchester. Her team works with luxury businesses producing custom-designed events ranging from intimate, to extravagant. Andrea’s expertise further includes working as a food and entertaining contributor for prominent outlets such as Hamptons Magazine and was even named the entertaining expert for L’Oreal Paris Academy, Ehow.com, Sam’s Club, Celebrations.com (a subsidiary of 1-800 Flowers) and most recently Lenox China. During her career, Andrea has worked with some of the world’s biggest stars including Mariah Carey, Russell Simmons, Jimmy Fallon, P. Diddy, L.A. Reid, Donald Trump and more.