Often times we think of entertaining as a full blown dinner party. I've found it less stressful and more fun to host gatherings that are less food centric and more about visiting. For some reason we measure ourselves in entertaining terms by how much we actually prepared and how complicated it was. The more involved the recipe the more accomplished the host. Many of us pull it off, however, I've found many end up focusing on the food and serving all night, then addressing clean up and are exhausted the next day... potentially not even having had time to really talk to all of the guests. If you've ever felt totally overwhelmed by hosting it can make you reluctant to try again.
This year I hosted an early get together with family and friends who always head out of town for the holidays. I decided with absolute certainty that I would figure out a way to make it as stress free and enjoyable as possible. I thought a drop in would be a good idea and that it would be dessert themed with a very basic array. I planned all that I would need to host the perfect event and headed to Willow Park Village. It's incredibly convenient to have every single thing I could possibly need all in one stop. The upside of shopping in a setting like this too is that it becomes a welcoming little community, people in shops remember you and are happy to see you return.
Planning was so easy. I ordered a stacked 6" on 8" cake from Crave Cupcakes and additional cupcakes for the children. I then walked two doors down to order flowers, including some for the cake at Blooms and Butterflies. In between those two stops Kate King Jewelry caught my eye and I popped in and treated myself to a new ring to match a pendant I already have. Another two doors down I picked up two Brie bakers and the next stop, some new toss cushions and a throw and the living room was ready to welcome guests.
I spoke to an expert at Springbank Cheese Company to create the best cheese pairings to compliment my other choices. I made several more stops purchasing some necessities and all of my work for gathering the right things was done in under an hour. I didn't need to prep a single thing with exception of the brie that I warmed and my signature drink. It was the easiest set up ever.
I welcomed guests to come as they please on Saturday afternoon for a quick bite and drink between a set hour window. I arranged the cake and baked goods on pretty white stands and made up the cheese board to balance the sweet. Guests sipped a Winter White Sangria recipe that I came up with and there was an alcohol free juice medley for our tiny guests. Everyone was able to make it and we ended up having the loveliest time.
Fresh eucalyptus and pear are the perfect touch to this cheese platter.
Bud vase blooms, fresh hand towels a scented candle are pretty vanity additions. A new liquid soap means guest won't have to fumble with a bar.
Extra blooms adorn this amazing cake and were so easy to set atop.
11 Steps To Stress Free Entertaining:
- Decide on your event date. Create a guest list and evite guests, Naughty or Nice with no more than three weeks warning. This is the magic number, any longer and people forget or make alternate plans.
- Create a prep list outlining food, florals, serving supplies or decorations and check it twice.
- Order florals and bakery items a week in advance. This way if you have a flower or dietary request you have extra time to confirm availability or make alternate plans. Inquire as to whether they have a delivery service. I did with Crave and Blooms and Butterflies -the nominal charge was completely worth it.
- For savoury items it's always an option to keep it simple. I did a warmed brie but sticking to room temperature finger foods reduces prep time, cuts back on clean up and won't require heating or utensils. You can buy cheeses, crackers, olives, etc... ahead of time to help with early organization.
- If you're cohosting or you live with someone delegate some prep or cleaning jobs to them.
- Pick necessities up the week of in one shot and set everything up the night before so all you have to do is address the actual food and drinks the day of.
- Restock the restroom with clean towels and extra toilet paper. For an added touch I swap out our bar soap for a new liquid soap. This way guests don't have to touch communal soap.
- Make a signature cocktail and serve in a punch bowl or labelled jugs. Guests can help themselves to a beverage and you're free to visit. Make sure to have an alcohol free option for those driving and children.
- Encourage a friend or family member to capture a few candid photos. Hosts are often too preoccupied to but the pictures are great to look back at later.
- If you'd like to decorate your cake with fresh florals tack an extra bloom or two on to your order ahead of time. Keep them in a cool dark spot the day before and place them on your cake at serving time. It's such a nice added touch.
- Lastly, heat your brie shortly before expecting your first guests. Any oven will act as a warming drawer if kept at 200°. Make a second warmed brie and keep covered for when guests have made their way through the first one. Then you need only take the new one out of the oven and swap your brie bakers.
All items supplied by Willow Park Village.
1. Cakes, cupcakes and cakestands- Crave Cupcakes
2. All florals - Blooms and Butterflies
3. Throw Cushions - Down Bedding
4. Pendant Necklace - Kate King Jewelry
5. Lace trimmed slip dress - Knickers and Lace
6. Children's clothing - Stephanie's Kids
7. Fir candles, throw blanket - Home Treasures and More
8. Liquid Hand Soap - Skoah
9. Brie Bakers - Compleat Cook
This post was sponsored by Willow Park Village. All styling, advice and opinions are my own.