(Family Features) - Hosting get-togethers at home can often be stressful with all of the elements to consider - the invitation, the décor, and most importantly, the food and beverages. Planning the perfect party can overwhelm even the most seasoned hostess, but there are easy solutions for making your event memorable without becoming inundated. Jen Isham, entertaining expert and finalist on "The Next Food Network Star," offers her suggestions for hosting a hassle-free social gathering.
- Chances are that your guests won't recall the design of your invitations or the color of your cocktail napkins, so use an eco-friendly electronic invitation with an appropriate theme and stick with matching monochrome plates and flatware. That leaves you time to focus on the factors that will stick in their minds most - the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.
- If you're not exactly a master mixologist but still want to wow your guests with drinks, try serving Godiva Liqueur on the rocks. Isham notes, "This simple drink can be pre-poured before guests arrive so that they have a beverage in hand within minutes of arriving. Try chilling the bottle beforehand, then just add ice when they enter the party." Your visitors will undoubtedly be grateful for the warm (or cool) welcome.
Once guests have arrived and mingling has commenced, you'll have a bit of time to use your creativity behind the bar. Your arrival drink can easily become the beverage du jour with some festive garnishes.
"Try using melted chocolate or different colored sugars to rim glasses of Godiva Liqueur over ice," suggests Isham.
- Moisten the rim of the glass and fill a shallow bowl or plate with your garnish of choice.
- Hold the glass sideways and dab the rim into the garnish while slowly turning so that only the outer edge is covered.
- Then simply add ice, using tongs, and pour Godiva Liqueur into the glass for a tempting and festive drink!
Consider stocking up on all varieties so your guests can have their pick of Chocolate, White Chocolate, Mocha and Caramel flavors. For those who are looking to go above and beyond in delivering the perfect cocktail presentation, use different forms of ice and glassware to provide variety.
When it comes to planning party food, the trick is to keep it simple.
- No-cook appetizers are a perfect no-fuss option for entertaining, which leaves more time for socializing with guests. Isham says, "Assorted nuts, cheeses, olives and preserved fruits in silver or gold bowls make for a lovely and chic appetizer spread with no time wasted slaving away in the kitchen." For an upscale hors d'oeuvre that still saves time, try Isham's Bruschetta Bar with Toppings Trio recipes.
- Rather than serving buffet-style in your dining room, Isham suggests utilizing all areas of the house with food and beverage stations. This will lead to your guests mingling and moving about so no one has the chance to be a wallflower.
- Another way to encourage guests to get to know each other is to organize carpools according to neighborhood. This not only will forge new friendships but also promotes having designated drivers so everyone will get home safely.
It is, in fact, possible to entertain with ease and still keep it chic - just remember to focus your energy and creativity where it matters and keep the rest simple.
Bruschetta Bar with Toppings Trio
By Jen Isham
Toast slices of baguette in the oven. Toppings can be added to bruschetta before serving or can be displayed in bowls for guests to top themselves.
Photo courtesy of Fotolia