Entertaining-Challenged No More!
Remember the "Nervous Nellies"? Rachael gave them that nickname because they were struggling with a sick baby, vomiting dog and having a complete pre-party meltdown.
They begged Rachael to help them reduce the stress of party-throwing and, while she can't do anything about the sick dog, she keeps her promise by going to their home and helping them throw a memorable bash. In the process, she passes along some words of wisdom they can apply to all of their future parties. Watch the video above to see how Rachael guides the Maruccis through the preparations for their dinner party.
Rachael's tips on throwing a stress-free shindig:
• Relax! Whether it's a glass of wine, a bubble bath or anything else that calms your nerves, make sure you're not crazed before and during your party. Your guests aren't going to come into your house and feel relaxed unless you're calm first.
• Plan easy menus that can be made ahead like roasts, stews or slow-cooked foods. They're very simple to make and they'll enable you change up your repertoire over and over again. For the Marucci's party, Rachael made Roast Pork Loin with Warm Fall Compote, Garlic Roast Chicken with Thyme and Lemon and a Ratatouille Roast.
• Meals that can be served at room temperature also make things easier.
• Take some help from the store by buying prepared foods. (And don't be afraid to ask for help at places like the specialty cheese counter!)
• Buffet, buffet, buffet! Let everyone get their own plate. With sit-down dinners, the only person that doesn't sit down is you.
• Prepare your menu and shop early.
• Put together an appetizer platter with prepared items from the grocery store like pates and vegetable terrines.
• Set the table way ahead of time to avoid a last-minute rush. Use decorative items you find around the house.
•Choose a simple menu with dishes that all cook up at the same time.
• Get a babysitter for the kids.
• Make drinks at a separate station in the house from the appetizers to avoid a traffic jam.
• Focus your bar instead of trying to buy something for everybody. Keep it simple with red or white wine, and maybe only one cocktail option.
Tracy now feels much more confident that she'll be able to pull off a successful party without all the chaos of yore. "I used to dread it," she says. "I felt like I had to invite guests over. Now, I'm actually looking forward to the next party because I kind of know how to do it a little better."
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