Stress Free Summer Entertaining


It’s the thick of summer, and we all want to be outside grilling and chilling with friends and family. For the host, there’s a certain level of stress associated with entertaining large groups. You can enjoy your party as much as your guests with just a little pre-planning and preparation. Here’s how:

Start Early

Work backwards from meal time to make sure you have everything prepared on time. Include your prep time for all the dishes you will be serving, and don’t forget to allow time for you to get ready before your guests begin arriving. Think about relaxing in a bubble bath -a proven stress reliever!

A Few Good Dishes

It’s a temptation to want to serve a lot of food choices so there’s “something for everyone.” Don’t submit to that mantra. Limit the number of side dishes you serve to four and that will allow your guests to have room for dessert. And, serve your favorite dishes with only one new recipe if you must (see coleslaw recipe below)! Your guests will be wowed and you will have the opportunity to show off your culinary skills!

Prepare a Signature Drink

Find a drink that pairs well with your theme or a colorful cocktail to serve for your guests’ enjoyment. Serve your drinks in glasses with stems for an elegant presentation. Pre-make your drink mix in pitchers for quick access and service. You can also freeze ice cubes with a color coordinated fruit slice or a cherry or strawberry frozen inside.

A well stocked, self serve bar is a good way to avoid that stress induced by seeing a line forming while you are attempting to make that perfect concoction. Drink mixology has come a long way and there are a plethora of bartenders who would be more than happy to prepare specialty drinks at your next gathering.

Accept Help

You’ll find your guests will want to feel useful, so by all means dole out tasks if they ask. They can clear dishes, serve drinks, and fill the dishwasher. If you are planning on a larger gathering, think about hiring a server or servers who will do all that grunt work for you before, during, and after your party. For the hourly price, it’s well worth your sanity and will give you some peace of mind so that you are free to spend your time with your friends and family instead of working and stressing about all those nagging dirty cups and plates lying around.

You can make home entertaining fun as well as enjoy the process. Thinking through your day so that you aren’t stressed before your guests arrive, using recipes you are already familiar with, and having your guests (if they ask) help out or using professional servers and bartenders will all help you create the type of party you want it to be without the worry.

To give you a jump start on your holiday recipe selections, here’s an easy and tasty coleslaw recipe for which my friend in Seattle receives accolades. This recipe can be found on her website:

Mom’s Coleslaw

Serves 10-12


■ 1 medium head of cabbage (you can use half purple and half green if desired or all purple) -washed and cut into 1/8’s, then sliced into 1/4 inch strips

■ 1 red pepper, cored and seeded then sliced into 1/4 inch strips

■ 1 yellow pepper, cored and seeded then sliced into 1/4 inch strips

■ 7 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced ¼ inch pieces

■ 3 medium cucumbers, peeled and cut lengthwise. Remove seeds and slice the half rounds into ¼ inch half moons (In the US I use English cucumbers which do not need to be peeled.)

Dressing Ingredients

■ ½ cup white vinegar

■ 4 tsp table salt

■ ½ cup olive oil or canola oil (the olive oil was my addition to mom’s recipe)

■ ⅓ cup sugar


Place all cut up vegetables into a large bowl.

Whisk all ingredients for the dressing together and pour over the vegetables. Mix together and marinate in a covered container in the refrigerator; stir every few hours. Add more sugar or salt to taste. This stays crisp and fresh for at least 3-4 days. Drain before serving..

If you’re not a fan of cabbage, you can even make this slaw with just cucumbers, peppers and carrots and throw in some thinly sliced celery. Sometimes I add cilantro to give it a different flavor!


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