Do you love baking and hosting parties?
Perhaps you only bake once in a great while or it’s you first time hosting a get-together. Maybe you’re a star baker or a seasoned entertainer.
I love baking and hosting parties. Even as a little girl, I enjoyed baking, especially cookies, oodles and oodles of them. Truly there are times I stare at the batter or dough, and think to myself “this just doesn’t seem to be enough” when only make a single recipe instead of quadrupling a recipe.
I also love to see the success of helping others with their events. So here are some baking and party hosting tips I’d like to share with you to help you get off to the best start!
1. Introduce yourself and guests.
This is a simple, common courtesy and great first impression, but sometimes a forgotten essential, especially when the kitchen gets busy and guests start arriving all at once.
A warm, friendly welcome not only helps guests feel valued, accepted, and approachable, but it also gives people a place to start a conversation with you and one another. It takes the pressure and awkwardness out of not having anything to say to a stranger, especially when trying to begin a conversation with someone you don’t know.
Whether it’s friends or family you have known a long time or acquaintances you just met, take the time to say hello and introduce people to each other. Try connecting them by using an icebreaker, fun game, or sharing an interesting bit (fact/talent/hobby/profession/compliment) about them. The typical how you met/know each other or where they are from is a lighthearted, nonintrusive guide to delve into a conversation that can be easily navigated by the people having it.
2. Can I offer you a drink?
Coffee, tea, juice, water, soda, wine?
It’s basic etiquette and also gives people something to talk about and do with their hands.
3. Serving a hot/cold beverage?
Fill the container, carafe, or cambro with hot/ice water about 30 minutes prior to filling with the intended beverage.
From hot or iced coffee and tea, water, and hot chocolate, your drinks will stay hotter/colder longer. This is a great tip for individual thermoses also.
4. There’s a time for every season.
There is a time and place for venting about unfavorable circumstances happening at your party.
It’s great to be able to share and confide your woeful journey in how you stayed up all night preparing, how the caterer delivered the wrong meal at the wrong time, how your good Judy decided to bring her rambunctious kids to an adults only party, or how wine got spilled on your antique chairs and rug.
Depending on the crowd, some might laugh, can relate, and help diffuse the situation. Others, however, may get overwhelmed and start to feel burdened, helpless, and like an inconvenience themselves, so it’s best to be sensitive to those circumstances while hosting. Some may feel uncomfortable and unsafe by the sharing of certain kinds of information in the midst of the main event and will in turn, limit themselves when opening up, particularly that which becomes gossip or comes off as negativity and complaining.
I’m probably a little old-fashioned when it comes to principles like this but what I’ve found is that learning to read the room and other people’s needs is an undervalued skill. Focus on building relationships, that’s what life is all about and the reason we gather.
5. Not sure how to decorate or plate a platter?
Perhaps you have the perfect shape and size of a serving dish, but it’s the wrong color or just mismatched from the other serving dishes.
Just surround everything in lettuce. You can even use vegetable tops from carrots, beets, or rhubarb.
It makes for a pretty, inexpensive, and easy presentation. Here are two examples from my sister’s sushi tower and veggie tray.
“Could you please take the pie out of the oven for me?”
Sometimes it’s hard to ask or say “yes” to offered help at a party because explaining some tasks can take more time and effort than doing them yourself. Perhaps you don’t know about or trust their kitchen etiquette, culinary skills, or piping ability enough to give them a job.
Just the thought can be stressful and add more stress to an already stressful situation. Fretting over misplaced items, burned foods and spills in the oven, and the rattling of what turns out to be broken glass in the garbage disposal after a party, are certainly in the top 10.
Let that apprehension and pride go. Most guests are eager in wanting to help and actually want to do a good job. They came to spend time with you, not sabotage your party. Maybe the party is a chance for them to get away and relax, but it could also be an opportunity for them to shine and learn something new.
Delegating will help you from getting burned out and keep resentment at bay. If the opportunity arises and is appropriate for you party goals, it’s ok to choose to share in the labor of washing dishes that seem to be having multiples instead of constantly responding with “I’ll take care of that” or “no thanks, I got it.”
Sometimes it’s the mishaps make the best memories.
7. Broken cake roll?
Oh this is a bummer!
There are ways to avoid it but typically the most softest and moist cakes don’t have the best structure for cake rolls and getting that balance can be quite tricky. There are a lot of factors that go into achieving a successful recipe consistently and having an off day or working in someone else’s kitchen can easily throw any baker off track.
I discovered a remedy by accident while attempting to make a gingerbread cake. I didn’t know what happened at the time only that I was majorly disappointed. Was it the temperature, the humidity, elevation, too much flour, not enough egg, a combination of issues perhaps?
So what to do when it happens?
Turn it into a trifle!
The cake, so soft, so moist, so delicious. Don’t allow it to be a complete fail by tossing it into the bin. In my example, I made mine into a Gingerbread Trifle. I just broke up the pieces and layered them as a trifle. An unsightly cake appearance turned into a problem solved and has become one of my family’s favorite desserts!
8. Keep your mixer out.
It will keep you motivated and ready to go. Stand mixers aren’t like other kitchen accessories. They aren’t the ugly monsters of the kitchen or the cumbersome gadgets that requires time-consuming assembly disassembly. Remember the days of the Salad Shooter? By the time you get it out, find the attachments, forget it. Mixers are a timeless staple of any kitchen. Stylish and convenient.
Sometimes getting started is half the battle for baking in general as well as for early party planning and impromptu festivities. Eliminating as many barriers as possible makes for a more productive and pleasurable baking and party hosting life.
9. Need juice from a lemon, lime, or an orange?
Use a fork. Just insert a fork into the half of the citrus fruit and squeeze.
This method cuts through the membrane bits with ease, yielding you more juice and allowing you to can catch any seeds right away.
10. Measuring cups tipping over in the dishwasher and filling up with water?
Place them in the utensil/silverware basket instead.
They will still get cleaned and water will run out instead of flipping over and filling with water.
11. Want perfectly hardboiled eggs?
Try this fail-proof method which works at sea level and 12,000 feet.
Bring water and eggs to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse under cold water. Allow about 15 minutes sitting time for large duck eggs.
You can see the third hardboiled egg is cooked to perfection. Always cook thoroughly to prevent food-borne illness and according to your taste. A deep golden color that’s not gel-like or runny shows the yolk has been cooked through. If you continue to cook it; however, the yolk will become pale yellow with a grayish green ring around it and the texture will be dry and crumbly.
12. Love iced cookies with that bakery smooth shine?
For a nice, silky shine, add a little squeeze of lemon juice into your icing recipe.
Also if you are using powdered sugar in your recipe, be sure to sift it. If you don’t have a sifter, just use a whisk to break up any clumps for a smooth, professional looking sheen.
Here is the recipe for Eggnog Cutout Cookies from Taste of Home. It’s my most favorite holiday cookie recipe and one where I like to have just a little sheen in the icing.
13. Made too sweet of an icing?
Add a pinch of salt.
It will help to balance out an overly sweet concoction.
I learned this tip from a Wilton decorating class that I took several years ago. This company, known for their cake decorating supplies, offers classes at crafts store like Michael’s, Joann’s, and Hobby Lobby. If you’ve never taken one of their classes before, you’ll have to check them out, they’re a lot of fun!
14. Appreciation goes a long way.
A simple “thank you for coming, it really means a lot to me” or “I appreciate you coming to my party, it was a pleasure having you” is the best way to show how much people are cherished as a person and as a guest in a more personal way.
You never know who might get inspired to bake or host a party of their own!
All the more fun!
I hope you enjoyed these 14 tips! I’m always learning myself, so please share a few of your own and tell me about your baking and party hosting adventures in the comments below, I’d love to know!