14 May 5 Tips to Entertain Southern Style
Planning your perfect Spring Soiree? Don’t strain your brain, Broadbent’s has tips and tricks to help make your event, one to remember.
#1 Be selective about your Food
Always be sure to have enough food! A “good” southern host would never let a guest leave hungry. Don’t hesitate to ask for R.S.V.P, but surprises do happen, so always account that with a little more food than you think you’ll need. Here are some easy tips to avoid culinary mistakes and hassles:
- Define your meal by party time (Breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner)
- Define your menu by location (outdoors, sit down dinner, etc.)
- Avoid catering to the individual lifestyle choices of every guest.
- Plan a menu that is in season
- Offer traditional, or tradition with a twist (Broadbent offers a variety of traditional Southern Foods and they come with easy to read instructions to make sure a chef of any skill level can cook these tasty traditions)
- Offer a variety of flavors
- Do consider deadly allergies such as peanuts or shellfish
- What fun is having a party if you can’t mingle and enjoy it? Be sure to choose foods that allow you the freedom to do so.
- Presentation is a big part of the experience that your guests are sure to remember.
Food is definitely the most complicated part of party planning- The dilemma of wanting to have plenty, but not lots of leftovers, makes hosts walk a fine line. To help ease the confusion of exactly how much food to plan for each guest look over these charts at http://www.divinedinnerparty.com/how-to-calculate-food-for-party.html#chart and http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portions/party
#2 Plan well for Drinks
Always have enough drinks! Summer can be stiflingly hot in the South, and humidity only makes it worse. Cooling off with a glass of refreshing Lemonade or Sweet Tea is an immense relief; but if you run out, guests can be motivated to leave early. Here are some general rules of thumb about drink amounts:
- Each guest will drink an average of two drinks the first hour, and one drink each hour thereafter.
- Check the forecast! For hot days add more water and cold beverages. For cool days, offer the option of hot beverages such as coffee, tea or cider.
- Plan on one and a half pounds of ice per person. This will provide enough ice for drinks.
- Always add a few extra to account for unplanned guests or a longer party time.
- One bottle of wine typically serves 8 guests.
Southern hosts/hostesses are known for small touches and always being ready, so follow these tips as well:
- Don’t forget the cocktail napkins as they can protect your furniture and other surfaces
- Don’t forget the garnishes
- Have a small stocked bar or beverages ready at your home for unannounced visitors or an impromptu gathering
- Don’t forget to make the display of beverages beautiful! Try galvanized tubs filled with ice, or pitchers of water garnished with cucumbers and lemon
Be sure to plan well, if you need help try using this drink calculator worksheet at http://www.totalwine.com/party-planning for planning your alcoholic beverage needs.
#3 Go Outdoors
In the South, especially for evening affairs, outdoors can be the way to go. It is a tradition set forth many generations ago, for hosts to gather guests outside and enjoy nature’s splendor once the cool night air kicks in. For a successful outdoor shin-dig try these tips:
- Design a menu around foods that are easy to serve. Things best served cold or at room temperature, or hot and fresh off the grill.
- Offer desserts that will cool guests down and are simple for storing and serving
- Go vintage by offering punch or a big-batch cocktail, as opposed to a full bar
- Set up eating and serving areas to be in the shade
- Always use tablecloths to dress up your outdoor tables
- Choose a spot surrounded by natural beauty to save time and hassle on extensive decorating. Instead focus on your table tops. Place settings and centerpieces can be just the thing to add the WOW factor!
#4 Skip the Disposables
Many delicious memories are recalled each and every time your family and friends eat from the plates and serving dishes you own. When my Mother-In Law passed away, my children didn’t want the good dishes, they wanted the dishes they ate out of when they were at her house. Those were the ones that held the memories. Even if you’re outdoors, choose real dinnerware to keep your party’s atmosphere sophisticated. If you are worried about items breaking or family heirlooms being treated without the utmost care by strangers, try spending a few extra dollars and get reusable items that look like the real things. Many southern women take joy in finding treasurers at deep discounts! Why not do the same with your table and serving ware? Shop at local thrift stores, estate sales, etc. and find beautiful dishes at a fraction of the cost. This way, no hearts are broken when a dish is! Matching is optional, and mixing and matching can be really fun.
If you absolutely stand by using disposable items, choose the heavy duty products that resemble real items, as the last thing guests want is their dinner in their lap or pick up charges that will be reusable and allow the paper plates to be stable. Always stick with the real thing for the serving dishes.
#5 Relax and Enjoy
Southern hospitality is not about the stress of perfection or impressing others, it is about spending time in good company. As a host/hostess, plan ahead the best you can, realize that something may happen that you couldn’t have predicted, and enjoy your party. The chances of someone remembering that your party ran out of a particular appetizer are far less when they are simply having a wonderful time with a gracious host enjoying the company of their guests.