The hustle of holiday parties can sometimes be overwhelming, leaving you little time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that make things effortless but still just as chic.

cheese platter

1. Buy From the Experts

Don’t feel as if you need to prepare everything — buy prepared foods whenever you can. The trick is to pick items from experts who create better products than we could ever make at home.

A selection of beautiful cheeses is impressive as an appetizer or in place of a dessert. Add charcuterie, olives, baguette and wine and that could be a simple last minute dinner party in itself!

simple bruschetta

2. Keep it Simple

There’s no need to slave away in the kitchen for hours to create beautiful food. Give a nod to Italian cooking and simply choose a few flavourful and seasonal ingredients to create rustic and satisfying dishes.

Shown below is a simple appetizer made with artisanal bread, local fromage frais, Castelvetrano olives, pine nuts and preserved lemon. Top with some freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with olive oil and it’s ready to serve!

carrot salad

3. Room Temperature Dishes

Manage your kitchen time by preparing sides that are meant to be eaten at (or close to) room temperature. This way, nothing is competing for oven time and you avoid feeling overwhelmed, trying to keep dishes frozen or piping hot.

Something like a roasted carrot salad can be a hearty side dish, and is perfect served warm or at room temperature.

fig-dessert

4. Make-Ahead Desserts

As long as dessert is a showstopper, your guests leave with a lasting impression. To make things simple, plan to do a dessert that can be done the day before. It’s one less thing on your mind and to-do list.

Brownies are a perfect example as they can be made a week in advance and frozen. You can cut them just before serving and top with some fresh fruit and ice cream to create an elegant last course.

cheese platter olives baquette entertaining

5. Family-Style

Consider opting for a casual, family-style dinner instead of plated courses. It creates a comfortable environment for your guests to connect over a homey meal, but also allows you to enjoy the conversation as well, as you should.