Volunteered your home for the Christmas get-together or summer reunion and suddenly regretting it? Get your stress levels under control with these hosting hacks.
1. Prep ahead. Marinate meat the night before, grill or roast the morning of, rest and enjoy at room temperature. Assemble salads and dressings in advance and throw together at the last minute, and opt for a simple dessert (berries and cream, anyone?) that can be served straight from the fridge.
2. Cut corners. This isn’t Masterchef – no one’s deducting points for store-bought bread or pre-made tart cases. But don’t underestimate the power of a plastic tub to ruin your table aesthetic. Decant dips into ramekins, arrange bread on a board, then look busy when a guest asks for the recipe.
3. Delegate. Spare your guests the arbitrary chocolate purchase everyone makes when instructed to arrive empty-handed, and ask each of them to bring something specific — whether it’s food, drinks, or a two-hour Spotify playlist. And if someone offers to stack the dishwasher, let them!
4. Dine al fresco. Sweeping crumbs off an outdoor table and shaking out a picnic rug is quicker than vacuuming or, worst-case scenario, scrubbing wine stains out of the carpet, post-party. Supply sunscreen, bug spray, and a tonne of scatter cushions and enjoy the sun.
5. Ambience fixes all: The kitchen might be a disaster zone but adorn the living areas with an abundance of scented candles and fresh foliage, and your guests will never smell your fear.