I often get asked by friends and readers about, (no shock here), “hosting”, entertaining and general advice when it comes to party planning, gifts and the like. Some of the most common questions revolve around tips, must-have items that you can use over and over and of course, budgeting.
Because of this, I have decided to start posting commonly asked questions in a little “Ask BAC” format. So if you have questions – please send them my way (firstname.lastname@example.org)! I will pick frequently asked ones and post about them each month.
First up, I know that entertaining as a whole can be a little intimidating. You may not be the best chef (neither am I!), have the creative mind of a Pinterest board or have an apartment the size OF a dining room table instead of an apartment WITH one. So, I thought I would share with you my top 15 items to have for beginners (in no particular order).
1. An Apron – This one is pretty much a no-brainer, however, if you don’t fully know why, you can read more about my adventures HERE. Below are a few I am loving.
2. Matching Set of Wine Glasses & Flutes (suggested for 8) – You will break one or two (or three if you’re me) – you should always have a set for a number you’re comfortable entertaining for plus a few extra. 8 is a good number to start.
3. Vases – Whether it be mason jars or glass ones that came with your Valentine’s Day delivery, hold on to vases. Also, don’t be afraid to get creative with it and use items that aren’t ordinarily a “vase” (glass carafes work too – see below).
4. Serving Tray or Large Dish -This is pretty self explanatory but it’s good to have one or two of these for drinks or menu items if you’re hosting a dinner. I’d also recommend investing in a custom lucite tray. I love my large one below custom from Pretty Smitten.
5. Matching Set of White Plates – The same rule applies for these as for the glasses (although you’re probably less likely to break these).
6. A Favorite Cookbook, an app on your phone or the number of a good restaurant – Everyone needs a little guidance in the kitchen.
7. Oven Mitts – Don’t get burned (a few faves below).
8. Tealight Candles and Matches (or a lighter in my case) – I think non-scented works best for dinner tables and around the house. You can light these and put them in jars or candle holders. Also, I am afraid of matches (yep, I wish I could use cute ones like these), so I rely on a candle lighter.
9. Ice Bucket – Perfect for chilling wine, bubbly, beers or water – I have a few of these in different sizes in silver.
10. A Universal Tablecloth – Everyone needs a go-to tablecloth that can use on multiple occasions. No matter what size, be sure to have something that fits your table and goes with everything. It should also be machine washable.
11. Your Own Signature Dish – This must be your go-to when cooking for friends or serving appetizers too. Something that is your no-fail dish that’s also a hit among guests. For me, I make a mean risotto, among others.
12. A Healthy Sense of Humor – May I remind you WHY again?
13. Grace Under Pressure – As an event planner, this is also one of the most important parts of my job. It’s also something to maintain when hosting and entertaining for others. No one wants to see the person in charge flip out or in this case, the person, hosting, have a melt down.
14. A Carafe – A WHAT? A carafe is an open-topped glass flask typically used for serving wine or water. You can also use for juice bars, mimosas and yes, as a vase. I have a few of these in my cabinets and they’re super affordable too ($4.99 at World Market).
15. Bottle of Bubbly – If all else fails, you should know how to put this one to good use. Cheers!