Throw a fab­u­lous din­ner party with 30 min­utes’ notice

ELLE (Canada) - - Special -

So you want to be one of those peo­ple who, on a whim, in­vites friends over for re­laxed yet chic soirees but you’re also that per­son whose fridge con­tains only eye masks and a Diet Coke from 2007. En­ter Mered­ith Steele, a recipe devel­oper and blog­ger who has writ­ten a book on the sub­ject of ef­fort­less en­ter­tain­ing. (Ac­tu­ally, that’s what her forth­com­ing cook­book is called.)

Here are her top tips for an “Oh, this? I just threw a few things to­gether” fete: 1. Easy on the eats. “A cock­tail party with a good cheese or char­cu­terie board and a few small bites is al­ways a win­ner. I keep cheese, cured meats, nuts, olives, crackers and dried fruit on hand at all times just for this rea­son. Quick ap­pe­tiz­ers like cros­tini, dips, olives warmed in olive oil with gar­lic, herbs and citrus, and toasted nuts tossed with fresh herbs and sea salt are on my menu as well.” 2. Let your guests do the work. “Set up a self-serve bar. It’s easy to do and not only keeps ev­ery­one happy but also keeps you from work­ing too hard throughout the night. Pick an area that can han­dle a lot of traf­fic and create a makeshift bar: large buck­ets filled with ice for wine and beer, a few select liquors and mix­ers, a jug of wa­ter and ice for drinks. If I have time, I’ll whip up a pitcher cock­tail to pour for guests when they ar­rive. And if chil­dren will be at­tend­ing, they get their own ta­ble with wa­ter, juice and snacks.” 3. Don’t try too hard. “Don’t fuss. Try to keep in mind that ev­ery­one knows you didn’t plan on hav­ing a party but they are cer­tainly glad you did. It’s all about en­joy­ing time with the peo­ple around you, and if that means you open the door in your bare feet, so be it.” s.l.

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