Monday, October 13, 2008

Easy Entertaining with Patricia Mendez

Patricia Mendez is our guest blogger today. Patricia's book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners is reviewed by us here. One of the interesting aspects from the book is that each chapter has a mistake to avoid. I've asked Patricia to talk about some of these mistakes and how to avoid them.

Top Five Mistakes to Avoid When Entertaining

By Patricia Mendez

Mistake #1: Hosts that try to do all of the preparation for a party on the day of the event. They clean the house, shop, cook AND have guests over in the same day.

Solution #1: Pace yourself! Always try to have 2-3 days in preparation for a party. That might sound like a lot to you in our instant microwave world, but it is well worth the effort. You will feel more confident and you won’t be exhausted. For instance, two days before a party, clean the house, reread the recipes and make a shopping list. One day before, do the shopping and some of the food preparation. The morning of your party, do most of the remaining food preparation and decorating. Spend some time each day for two to three days before a party in preparation.

Mistake #2: Not reading through the recipes or ever preparing them prior to your dinner party.

Solution #2: Whether you are cooking for a crowd or hosting dinner for two, you should always prepare a recipe you have never made at least once before your event. If it is a large recipe, simply cut the recipe in half and try it a couple of weeks before your dinner party. Also, carefully read through each recipe before you are ready to start putting ingredients in mixing bowls and firing up the stove. These tips will give you time to fix any mistakes you might make, help you gain confidence and set a relaxed and warm tone for your dinner party.

Mistake #3: Rushing around in frantic preparation as your guests are arriving. This mistake is usually a result from making the first two mistakes above. Not being organized and not pacing yourself and being unfamiliar with recipes you are preparing for your event can lead to being way behind schedule. This sets the wrong tone for your dinner party. It is awkward for guests when they arrive on time and the host is either away at the store for a last minute trip or is still elbow-deep in preparation.

Solution #3: Being organized is the key to hosting fun, satisfying and successful casual at-home entertaining. Remember, beginners should “Do a few things and do those well.” Concentrate on the food, the table and the tone that you set as host. You want to be able to be ready to greet your guests as they arrive. Make introductions, get a beverage into their hands and you will immediately set your guests as ease and set a friendly tone for your dinner party. Kudos to you for your desire to give this wonderful gift of delicious food and warm hospitality to your family and friends!

Mistake #4: Not being able to problem-solve and letting mistakes and problems ruin your evening.

Solution #4: Even the most seasoned hosts can deal with unexpected problems when they entertain. If something goes wrong (the icemaker breaks, the smoke alarm goes off, one of the dishes you will serve has taken a turn for the worse), don’t panic. Simply solve the problem and move on. The ability to be flexible and not let it ruin your evening is a plus.

Mistake #5: Choosing a menu that is too difficult and fussy.

Solution #5: When hosts are looking for a dinner party menu they should choose one that can be mostly prepared in advance. This is especially helpful advice for a beginner. Many books and internet sites put together complete menus if you are not sure what to serve. When I designed and wrote my book, Easy Entertaining for Beginners, I put together menus for occasions that I thought new nesters/newlyweds would most like to host in their first couple of years in their new homes. I wrote the recipes specifically for those who might not have much cooking experience. Just because a recipe is simple, does not mean it is not delicious! So choose most of your recipes that can be prepared in advance. I believe entertaining should fit your life so another great tip is to prepare the main meal items and use your favorite purchased items to fill in your menu. For instance, purchase a fantastic dessert instead of making one. Use a purchased dip or washed and bagged salad greens instead of cleaning and cutting your own. These all save time and allow you to concentrate on doing a few things well.

The EASY ENTERTAINING FOR BEGINNERS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on October 1 and end on October 30. You can visit Patricia's blog stops at in October to find out more about her latest book!

As a special promotion, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner(s) will be announced on our main blog at on October 30!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this book sounds great!