Spring has sprung (no matter what the weatherman says), and so begins a busy season for home entertaining. Communions and Confirmations are events that you might want to celebrate at home, or perhaps you just want to have some friends around to relax on a summer as evening. Whatever the occasion, you’ll want your event to go smoothly and to be a memorable one.
Entertaining at home needn’t be complicated or stressful and – let’s face it – you deserve to enjoy the experience as much as your guests! So we’ve put together a few tips to take some of the hassle out of planning and hosting your home event.
Depending on the nature of the occasion, and the number of guests you are planning to invite, there are many options for your food.
If you want to make a lasting impression, we recommend bringing in a chef to cater for your event, and having your food served by professional waiting staff. Before you say “That’s waaaaaay too fancy for my house!”, we’d like to re-assure you that this is not as costly as you might think, and we are happy to connect you with the right chef and of course our superb team of waiting staff. As well as having your menu designed, prepared and served by professionals, you get to spend more time with your guests on the day (There is nothing worse than attending a party where the host spends the night in the kitchen!)
We regularly supply chefs and waiting staff for house parties, and the feedback from the clients has always been that it was worth the money when they took into account the hassle that it saved them.
And so to the styles of food service you might consider:
- A classic dinner party is a great way of entertaining smaller groups of adult guests.
- You’ll no doubt be familiar with your guests tastes, so make sure to design a menu that suits those tastes. There’s very little point serving foie gras and truffles if your guests would really rather have a steak, but if you want to make the meal a bit more refined, you could turn that steak into an individual beef wellington.A? Keep things relatively simple, stick with what you know, and do that well.
- Another simple way to impress with a dinner party is to set an elegant table: candles, placenames, lots of flowers, mix-and-match vintage dishes, etc. This will create a great first impression that will stay with guests long after the party is over.
- If you’re not a wine connoisseur, don’t worry, any good wine shop will advise you on what wine to pair with your food don’t be afraid to ask them!
- Always serve a good dessert. Regardless of the quality of the starter and main course, the last course will stick in peoples memories.
- A hot or cold buffet is ideal for larger or less formal groups, and especially suitable if guests are arriving in stages.
- Although food can be kept for some time on the buffet (either cold or in heated chafing dishes), remember that it does have a shelf-life, after which it will either be unattractive or unsafe. So keep in mind what time guests will be arriving, and calculate your serving time based on that. Otherwise, put the food out in batches and refresh them regularly.
- Choose dishes that are suited to your guests tastes, but that are also suitable for maintaining in a room that might get warm shellfish or sushi, for example, might be best avoided.
- If you are serving a hot buffet, don’t forget that you’ll need chafing dishes (and fuel) to keep it warm. If you are ordering food to be delivered from a local restaurant, check if they will provide the chafing dishes. If they don’t, check with them how many chafing dishes will be required to hold and serve the food.
- A fork supper is also great for larger, informal parties. They are also particularly ideal if you don’t have room for a buffet table.
- One or more hot dishes are served in small bowls and offered to guests on trays. Usually followed by sweet canapés.
- There is less food involved than a buffet, but there is a bit more work involved in serving the dishes. We would highly recommend that you hire waiting staff to serve the food efficiently and professionally.
- Canapés (sweet and savoury) are great for parties of all size, but particularly for shorter parties where guests are not expecting too much food (for example, before heading out to eat elsewhere, or later in the evening after a lunch has been served earlier).
- Canapés might also be served as a starter/dessert before/after a buffet or fork supper.
- Canapés are best prepared and served by professionals because of their small size, they need to look impressive!
We always recommend to clients that they utilise our professional bar staff for their parties. Having bar staff can mean the difference between efficient and tidy drinks service, or a free-for-all where people raid your drinks cabinet for that vintage brandy you’ve been saving for a special occasion (and this is probablyA?not be the occasion you had in mind!)
You will want to relax on the night, and enjoy the company of your guests without having to worry that peoples drinks are topped up. Allow us to do that for you!
Some general tips for your Bar:
- Always have a plentiful supply of ice on hand We really can’t stress this enough it looks bad if your guests can’t have ice in their gin after 10pm when the off-license has shut and you can’t find ice anywhere. It’s relatively cheap, so buy plenty in advance. You can even contact one of several companies that will deliver ice to your door for a reasonable charge. Source a large ice bucket to serve, and it won’t have to be refilled constantly.
- Keep a good stock of lemons and limes on hand too. If you don’t use them on the night, you’ll use them for cooking at some stage anyways. And don’t forget cucumbers a lot of people favour Hendrick’s Gin these days!
- If you have access to plenty glassware, take advantage of it. We are always happy to source glassware for hire to our customers. Bear in mind that whoever is serving drinks might not have access to the dishwasher or sink to recycle glasses, so you may need a lot of glasses to compensate.
- If you’re supplying the drink stock, keep it simple. Nobody will expect you to have all the latest imported beers or every type of spirit. Stick to the basics: whiskey, vodka, gin, white rum, one or two bottled beers, mid-price red/white wines, a small selection of soft drinks for mixers, orange juice and cranberry juice. That should cover everybody’s tastes and those that only ever drink Chartreuse and Red Bull can bring their own!
- Avoid shots unless you really want them, and be aware that these make people intoxicated quicker. If you must serve them, keep them until the very end of the night, so you can send your merry guests home without too much guilt!
- If it’s a BYOB event, we’d still recommend that you have a reasonable stock of the above drinks people never bring enough for their own needs, and they’ll appreciate your effort.
- If you want to serve cocktails, keep it to one or two varieties, and choose a cocktail that can be prepared easily or in advance. We’d recommend a Mojito or Cosmopolitan they are universally popular, and relatively easy to prepare. Bear in mind that you’ll need extra juices, liquors, fruit, mint, etc., depending on the type of cocktail you choose. You may also need a particular style of glass for example, a Martini glass for a Cosmopolitan.
And lastly, few general tips to help you enjoy the event:
Dona??t worry too much about the mess!A? If you haven’t got waiting staff to clear up (and of course we really recommend you do!), don’t spend too much of your night running around picking up glasses and dishes. If the host looks frazzled, it will rub off on the guests. Accept that the place just isn’t going to be as tidy as you’d like, and get on with enjoying yourself!
Mingle!A? Try to avoid getting stuck in one room for the evening move about and enjoy the company of all of your guests it will make for a more pleasant evening for yourself.
Dona??t forget about music! Music sets a tone, so give it some thought. Maybe some Ella Fitzgerald during a dinner party, and nothing too sombre for a birthday party. If you are having trouble choosing, let Spotify do it for you there you’ll find tons of great party playlists to suit any mood/occasion.
Partying outdoors?A? Be careful! Irish weather is not very reliable at the best of times, even in the Summer months. If some or all of your party is being held outdoors, consider renting a gazebo and/or a gas heater, just to be safe!