entertaining 101

I love entertaining - there is just nothing quite like coming home after a busy day and cooking up a storm, styling your table and cracking open a bottle of wine to enjoy with family or friends. I think it appeals to the homebody in me because it means I can still have a fun night socialising, all in the comfort of my own home!

So today I wanted to share with you a few tips and tricks, great purchases and easy recipes perfect for entertaining.

The first thing I do when I have friends coming over is give my house a quick tidy (vacuum floors, wipe down kitchen and bathroom surfaces, put away any bits and pieces lying around etc) and then get onto the fun task of setting the table. This is my favourite part of the preparation and allows you to be as creative (or as lazy) as you want to be! If you're not one for decorating and you don't have a knack for styling you can always just go with a trusty clean white table setting - using a white tablecloth, neutral placemats, silver cutlery and glassware. If like me you love styling and interiors then this is where the fun begins. I usually start with a bright funky tablecloth, add some neutral placemats or napkins and then start adding all of the fun extras. Most the time I opt for some low lying floral decorations (think little jars or milk bottles), and a few candles to set the mood and create a welcoming vibe. I've actually done a whole post on beautiful table settings here.

Clockwise: Keren Brown gold tablecloth, Adairs linen placemats (also comes in napkins, table runners and tablecloths) and mason jars with flowers

After the table has been set, I move on to preparing my food. I'll usually try and have some part of my meal prepared in advance, whether this is the entree, dessert or just main meal preparation like cutting the veggies or marinating the meat. When you are creating a meal for entertaining purposes, make sure you consider time and pick something you are familiar with. There is nothing worse than being stressed out in the kitchen and experimenting with different recipes ten minutes before your guests are due to arrive! No one wants a My Kitchen Rules horror experience.

The meals I usually pick for entertaining are homemade pizza (helps if you have a Thermomix and can make the dough in advance), pasta (this Jamie Oliver recipe is a favourite among my family and friends), a BBQ (send your partner outside to cook the meat while you whip up a few salads and reheat a pre-cooked yummy potato bake) or slow-cooked meats. You can't go wrong with spare ribs cooked in the slow cooker with some easy potato wedges and coleslaw!

I like serving meals on sharing platters. That way it keeps the table clean for your decorations and eating and guests can come up to your kitchen counter to serve themselves as little/much food as they like! Some of my favourite shops for servingware are Wheels&Barrow, KMart, Myer and David Jones. Along with the food, I like to set out a few different drink options on my kitchen bench. In my opinion you can never go wrong with a cocktail, wine or non-alcoholic punch. 

Top to bottom: Wheels and Barrow serving board, Keren Brown cocktail shaker

I recommend pre-making your desserts well ahead of time as this is the one item I like to spend a bit more time on to ensure the presentation is top knotch. If you are planning a Summer dinner party then these ice-pops served over champagne are the perfect accompaniment to meat and salad. For a colder evening, try serving these gorgeous teacup cakes with a variety of coffee, tea and licquer.

Clockwise from top: raspberry teacup cake, homemade mango popsicles,  nespresso lattissima machine, affogato

If you don't have enough time to make an elaborate dessert, a fail-safe option is an affogato. I always make sure I have good quality vanilla icecream in the freezer so if guests pop in unannounced I have something to offer them. This is where my Nespresso machine gets a lot of use - I highly reccomend the Nespresso if you haven't tried it before. The coffee actually tastes great and I find the Lattissima machine I have heats the milk really well.

Do you have any fun entertaining tips? Where do you purchase your servingware from?


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