Measure twice, cut once”, my father often says. This means count, measure and take stock of what you have and what you will need to finish the task.
So you have 10 couples coming over for dinner? Outside of food, here are the items you don’t want to forget!
Servers for condiments
Sounds like lots of stuff, but just take it one thing at a time. Decide if you are going to use everyday dishes, fine dining stoneware or china, or paper. There are advantages to using each. Everyday and fine dining dishes save you from making a trip and spending extra money on paper goods.
You’ll need to consider what is on your menu and if you’ll need forks, knives, spoons, salad forks or dessert forks and spoons. If you use silverware then you’ll just have to make sure you have the correct count. If you use paper and plastic ware be sure to buy enough forks and spoons since you might need to double the number of forks and spoons for salads, entree’s, ice cream or pie.
Serving dishes require a bit of forethought. Will you be serving more than one type of beverage? Will you be preparing everything? Or having guests bring a dish to contribute to the meal or will you provide the entire meal? Once you have these items set you can begin gathering everything you need and knowing what you are going to serve can help you create a theme to plan around.
If you are having more than 8-12 guests it may require additional planning to find the correct number of matching plates and glassware, but you can also use the eclectic idea and mix your sets of dishes. Use a variety of cups, plates and glasses. Mix cups and saucers. Stack plates by alternating the design. Use your decoration to tie it altogether with polka dots, stripes or solids to tie your silverware in sets which will help guests easily manage as they move through a buffet. Or the ribbon can add an accent to the place setting.
After you gathered all your pieces consider the flow of the room and where you will put the coats and handbags. Then you’ll need to place the tables so there is enough room to get between them when people are seated. Determine if you want people to move about to get their drinks or dessert. You may choose to preset the table with pitchers filled with a refreshing beverage and place the dessert at each place too!
If you have decided to provide the entire meal, be sure to take out all your serving dishes and put them in a staging area. Match each dish with a serving utensil. You can also create folded tent tags for each dish so your guests will know what each item is. The tag can be simple like a white card folded over to ceramic easels that wipe off easily. And, if you chose to have appetizers account for the serving, plating, utensils and napkins in what you’ll need to provide.
Be sure that you have planned your meal preparation so you do not have to spend time in the kitchen preparing at the last minute, when you’d rather be greeting and entertaining your guests.
When guests begin to arrive and they bring a dish to share, if you have chosen this option, try to be ready to accept them in your kitchen since often they arrive and need to heat or put finishing touches on the dish. Also, find an out-of-the-way place for the carrying cases and bags that they bring the food items in so it can easily be recovered when they are ready to depart.
Just taking a few minutes to review what you and your guests will need will save you time and last minute frustration giving you more time to enjoy this fun time filled with food and friends.