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The more I get to know people the more I realize that not everyone enjoys or feels like they're good at hosting.  I had assumed that since I love cooking and entertaining it was the same for everyone else and clearly that's an unrealistic generalization.  People get stressed out when having company.  Between the cooking, cleaning and playing the good host when guests arrive, some would just rather pass. Read on for tips on how to plan and execute a stress-free girls night. 

The Spread:

  • Dubliner Cheddar, Summer Sausage, and Crackers
  • Marinated Cheese and Olives
  • Pork and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms 
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe (don't make ahead of time)  
  • Cucumber & Rosemary Water
  • White & Red Wine Options
  • White Russian Fixings

Week Of: 

  1. Plan Your Menu.  Pick a few dishes that complement each other.  Be sure that most of your options are make/prep ahead dishes that you can do prior to event day.  If you have to cook day of, try to limit it to one dish. 
  2. Grocery Shop. Keep in mind how long your fresh ingredients will last and don't go too far in advance, but definitely don't wait until the last minute.  Two-Four days ahead of time is a good rule of thumb. 
  3. Get Confirmation. We're all busy and things come up.  People get sick, bogged down at work, schedules change...confirm with guests a few days in advance.  There's nothing worse than making a glorious spread for a party that doesn't happen. 
  4. Deep Clean. Do your standard cleaning routine.  Get the vacuuming out of the way, de-clutter, dust, mop, etc. Do a thorough job now so later on all it takes a quick spin through to tidy things up. 

Night Before: 

  1. Quick Clean. You put in all that time doing the hard work earlier in the week.  The night before just take a quick spin through to clean up and make the place presentable.  Do leftovers or take out for dinner so you don't have to mess up the kitchen and clean again. 
  2. Prep Dishes. Make everything you possibly can ahead of time.  I got the cheese and olives marinating and  the mushrooms stuffed and ready to bake. I stored the mushrooms in a disposable baking pan so they could go right in the oven the day of and then the dish could be thrown out. 
  3. Plan Serving-ware. Lay out your serving dishes and utensils to ensure you have a tray or bowl for each dish.  Have a plan for laying out your dishes so there's a practical flow. 

Day Of: 

  1. Finish the Food. For yesterday's event, I got the mushrooms in the oven right away after work. While those baked, I got the cucumber/rosemary water made and back into the refrigerator.  I sliced the summer sausage and cheddar cheese and then cubed up the cantaloupe and wrapped in prosciutto. 
  2. Perfect the Layout. Put out appetizer plates, utensils and serving dishes.  Create a logical flow that leads guests to a seating area. 
  3. Minimize the Decor.  There's no need to rush out and buy decor to try and spruce up your space.  Use what you have.  If you did DIY flora for a wedding, baby shower, or other event, you have a lot of beautiful decorations at your fingertips.  Pick one or two key items and integrate throughout the spread.  Last night I used my "hooray" cake topper in a wine bottle vase with wedding flowers.