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Making Hosting A Party Look Easy


by Jimmy Cox

Being a good hostess requires planning and organization. You can't just do something last minute and hope to receive the compliments, "You always seem to have such a good time at your own parties," and, "You do everything so easily."

These compliments do not mean that she has not spent plenty of time in planning and preparing for a party, but it does indicate that the apparently unharried hostess is not plagued with too many last minute details that take her away from her guests. This is what a good hostess shoots for.

With the scarcity of regular household help, the completely formal party is practically out of date. Occasionally, we may get out the best linen and china, employ extra service, and ask a few guests to a small dinner or luncheon.

For holiday meals, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, we will have place settings at the table for everyone, though we seldom attempt to serve many courses; and at children's parties, table service is more practical and convenient. However, it is a common practice today when we ask friends to have a meal with us to choose the buffet service, whether the meal is served on the terrace, on the lawn around the grill or barbecue, or in the house.

A noticeable trend that makes for greater sociability and makes fewer demands on the hostess is entertaining with cooperative supper parties. For these, the host and hostess will supply the before-dinner drinks and sometimes the main meat item, while other members of the group will bring, according to a preconceived plan, other dishes that will together form the basis of a buffet meal. This same plan, for either the buffet or a sit-down meal, may be enlarged for a club or church luncheon or supper.

When we entertain in the afternoon, we may ask our guests to drop in for cocktails or for tea or sherry. Sometimes, we elaborate the usual cocktail party and serve, buffet style, a hot dish or two as well as the usual appetizers. Another simple method of entertaining that is increasingly popular is to ask guests to come in for dessert and coffee before an afternoon or evening of bridge, canasta or television. Or, we may serve tea or cocktails at the end of the afternoon, or snacks or drinks toward the end of the evening. The snack party, with grape juice, cola and other soft drinks, is particularly popular with the teen-agers.

There are a few simple rules that apply to planning and executing a party of any type. The first is to plan well in advance, and to attempt only what can be carried out successfully and with apparent ease. Menus and service should be chosen with this idea in mind, so that time, which should be spent with the guests, is not occupied by long periods in the kitchen.

For example, ham may be prepared the day previous; casserole dishes may be prepared in the morning, as may many desserts; salad dressings may be mixed and left chilling in the refrigerator; relishes (such as radishes, carrot strips and others) may be placed in a covered container in the refrigerator, where they will benefit by crisping; certain icebox desserts must be made ahead of time. Coffee can be made ahead of time and kept to the proper temperature in an automatic electric percolator.

In planning your menus, study your recipes and select those for which many ingredients or the whole recipe may be prepared in advance. Preparation will make it look like you barely lifted a finger before the party. This will put your guests at ease and allow you to relax.

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