Ready for some company? Whether you revel in playing the host with the most or fear the doorbell’s ding dong, Nicolle Elliot and Meta Adler of Hostess Provisions have a few tricks to effortlessly pull off a gathering and stay cool and collected while doing so. So, pour yourself a glass of wine and open the front door—it’s time for some festivities.
The Local Palate: People put a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure their gathering is perfect. Any advice on how to pull off a great event without getting too stressed?
Hostess Provisions: Prep, prep, prep! Many years in the catering and event industry has taught us that you can never be too prepared before your event. Whether it is an intimate dinner party for eight people or a cocktail party for fifty, being organized and planning in advance is the best way to avoid day-of-event stress, which is the biggest party buzzkill. When your guests arrive, you want to be able to pour yourself a glass of wine, enjoy your company, and know that everything is in control.
That being said, do not feel that you have to wear every hat. Know your strengths and weaknesses. If arranging flowers and setting a beautiful table is your strength and what you enjoy, embrace that. Plan a simple menu, mixing in prepared items from your favorite market (check out the Local Palate Marketplace!) with a few of your own recipe staples that can be made ahead or consider hiring a caterer.
Finally, if something goes really wrong, know how to play your poker face and think on your feet. Did you have a Mrs. Doubtfire moment and burn the main course? Follow her lead and call up your favorite take-out spot, and serve everything on your finest china and silver. Chances are your guests will never know the catastrophe that occurred in the kitchen, especially if you keep the libations flowing.
TLP: Any tips for prioritizing preparations for the holiday gathering? What can be prepared ahead of time versus what can wait until guests start arriving?
HP: Anything that can be made ahead should be made ahead. No one wants to spend the entire evening of their event chopping vegetables and frantic in the kitchen. Start by making an event schedule for when everything needs to be done and spread the work out so it is only a couple of hours a day. Also, create a day-of-event timeline to keep you on schedule.
Plan the menu so that only one or two menu items have to be actively prepared after your guests arrive. This allows you to mingle with guests while the beef tenderloin roasts or a casserole cooks in the oven. (Don’t forget to set a timer!)
After it comes out, you can heat up anything else needed for dinner, blanch vegetables, and toss a salad while the tenderloin is resting before carving. For entertaining, I love recipes that can be made ahead, frozen, and heated up for serving because you can stock your freezer weeks before your party. These are especially great when you have friends unexpectedly pop by for a visit.
TLP: Any recommendations of ways to make guests feel immediately at home?
HP: Welcome them with a glass of Champagne or their beverage of choice, and most importantly enjoy your party! Being well prepared before your event allows you to warmly greet your guests with a smile instead of a look of fear about what is happening behind the scenes.
TLP: Appetizers before the feast, yay or nay?
HP: A BIG YAY! Our favorite party to host is a cocktail party because the entire menu is appetizers and hors d’oeuvres!
TLP: Finally, what are we drinking?
HP: A cocktail made with our Spiced Golden Pear Cocktail Infusion and always Champagne!
Add a touch of Hostess Provisions' hospitality with their easy recipe for pimento cheese pecans.
Photos by Kelli Boyd Photography