6 Tips to Always Be “Party Ready”

Life is pretty busy these days with graduate classes, leading food tours and participating in a community garden program…to name a few. But that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to enjoy the summer entertaining season with friends.

I’ve developed a few techniques on how to always be “party ready,” no matter when the mood might strike for a last minute gathering, over the years. Here are a few tips on how you can always be “party ready”:

Serve Brunch: No matter what time of day, brunch is a universal meal that offers the best of breakfast and lunch. The best part is that most ingredients are commonly found in your fridge or pantry. I turned to my version of a vegetable frittata to be the star.

Keep a Casual Menu: Don’t even think about stressing over complicated food with a ton of options. Keep things casual by selecting a menu that is prepared in unique ways while continuing to utilize classic flavors. Prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe slices required no cooking and made for a beautiful presentation on the table.

Be Inspired By What You Have: Rushing to the grocery store to purchase ingredients for an untested recipe can be time-consuming and could be a disastrous. Take a quick peek inside your fridge or pantry for inspiration. I always have mixed greens, balsamic vinegar and olive oil on hand. Topped with crumbled feta cheese, sliced strawberries and pine nuts; my random selection of ingredients was transformed into a crisp spring salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Get Your Guests Involved: This was a hard technique to master because I like to be in control in the kitchen. Once I loosened my grip, I started to let my guests help with dinner preparations. The experience was liberating and I began to enjoy entertaining more. For my party this weekend, guests Jonathan and Kevin were placed in charge of a Bloody Mary station. Jonathan tapped into his beverage making skills to create the most perfect tomato juice base. Kevin was given the opportunity to try his hand at merchandizing the vegetable toppings to use with our drinks.

Have a Florist Friend in Your Contact List: My friend Jimmy happens to be a co-owner of a floral business called greenSinner. This has come in handy on many occasions when I’m in a pinch for fresh flowers. It’s a perfect trade really. I get instant décor and he gets to eat my food.

Buy Dessert: This can be the most time consuming part of the meal. I’ve found my guests are usually so full from the main event; they don’t want a heavy dessert to weigh them down. That’s why I decided to purchase a variety of fresh baked treats from a local Pittsburgh market for this party.

So now it’s your turn. What are your tips for always having a “party ready” home?

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  • So I adore dinner parties– a dinner party to me is when you have someone else that has the time to sit and have dinner with you. My husband gets really mad because he says that I always put out too much food and that I always go “all out.” But I love my friends and I love him too…so I do– go all out. These are the things I have learned to have on hand always in case our night to stay in ends up being with 8 friends.

    !. wine & beer. Always important to have in the house if you’ve had a bad day or to have as an option for a beverage for your dinner guests (and hey, I’m 25 so we’re still in that phase of life)

    2. some kind of cheese. I always have cheese ready- goat cheese, brie, Humboldt Fog (my favorite) or fromager d’affinois (me other big favorite). A cheese plate is always a hit. and the thing that goes along with this is crackers. I always have a variety of crackers around. My go to dip when I am caught really off guard is a cream cheese with jelly spread over the top. My favorite jelly is Robert Rothschild’s Hot Pepper Raspberry preserves.

    3. Ok this is my last one because this is getting long….fresh fruit and veggies. It’s the easiest way to always have something ready. I keep fresh spinach, broccoli, and celery in the fridge at all times. Not just for parties but they really come in handy. There is so much you can do with celery sticks. Also a big party hit is grapes and sliced oranges or apples. People love an appetizer they don’t have to feel guilty about and oftentimes appreciate fresh fruit at a party. Buying a pre-made fruit tray is expensive so I go for slicing an apple or two which is cheap in comparison and the colors really spice up an appetizer plate.

    Ok thats all. I love dinner parties.

  • We will put our friends to work in a minute! It’s never a second thought. ha Another good tip is pre-prep. We love to knock out whatever we can 1-3 days ahead of time, so it’s not rushy rushy on the day of the party.

  • Love this Cory! I absolutely LOVE entertaining, and with my crazy travel schedule…and extreme OCD…it can be a lot of stress planning, so I always have a few of my favorite apps ready to go:
    My husband is Greek, so I try and have homemade Tiropita and Spanikopita in the freezer for a quick and yummy app.
    My go to is a warmed goat cheese and roasted red pepper marinara with toasted bread- ALWAYS a hit and surprisingly EASY
    Like you- I now must delegate, dessert and a themed martini are often left to my guests to bring (but I always have a stocked wine rack!)

    Love your blog 🙂 Great tips!