I am so excited to kick this series on Overcoming Hospitality Obstacles off! The first hospitality obstacle to overcome is the thought that “I am not a good cook.”(See the introduction to the series here.)
Now you may not believe me at first, but I promise hospitality is not just about the food. In fact, I think most people are just so pleased to be invited over that they are not going to be harshly judging the food.
Pick a meal that you can master
Although I am a big fan of trying new things, the night you are having dinner guests may not be the best time to be adventurous. Definitely try things out on your family first. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate and make any adjustments in cooking time, quantities, seasoning, etc. ahead of time. Once you find a meal you are comfortable with, repeat it for different groups. Added bonuses: 1. You won’t have to buy special spices or equipment something that you are only going to use one time. 2. You may just become famous for your XYZ dish or at least it can become a tradition at your house.
Keep it simple
And while you are mastering a new meal, don’t feel like you need to stress about a 5 course one. I suggest concentrating on the main entree and possible sides. Offering a simple salad and dessert that can made ahead and that do not have to be served at a certain temperature will reduce any kitchen stress you may be feeling. It’s also a good idea to have an appetizer on hand for guests to enjoy while you are finishing up the entree, but keep it simple like fruit and nuts or maybe a meat and cheese tray. Don’t stress yourself out with having something else to come out of the oven on time.
If it’s served in your home, it’s homemade
Do not feel like you have to make everything yourself. It is perfectly acceptable to purchase any (or all) meal components from the grocery deli or local restaurant. Grab a rotisserie chicken and dress it up (or not) and arrange on one of your platters. You can be assured that if you have potato salad at my house it’s is going to be in a nice bowl, but that it came from a plastic deli container. Want to serve a beautiful cake but are baking challenged? Buy one from the bakery and place on a footed cake plate with a few fresh flowers or your favorite edible garnish and you are good to go.
See ways to dress up store-bought items on this section of the Pinterest Board.
I love what Samanta had to say in response to the question I posed about what keeps you from entertaining on facebook:
You don’t have to do it all
Just because you are opening your home to guests, does not mean that you have to supply everything. Again most people are so pleased to be invited that they are more than willing to bring something. If someone asks, “What can I bring?” it’s perfectly acceptable to give them a couple of simple options to let them choose from. Or you can present the gathering as a group event from the beginning. The host could provide entree and guests could bring salad, dessert, drinks, etc. This is a great option if you have guests with dietary restrictions – they can insure that they will be able to eat what they bring.
Tips on hosting a potluck here.
Who says it has to be a whole meal?
The suggestions above have all been about full meals, but there is no rule that says you can’t just have guests over for snacks and drinks or just dessert and coffee. This works particularly well for afternoons or later in the evening. Just make sure you are clear when you issue the invitation.
Other ways to overcome this obstacle
I hope these few quick ways to address the “I can’t cook” obstacle are helpful and increase your comfort level with having friends and family in your home. I would love to add your thoughts and tips. Please add them below in the comments.
The next hospitality obstacle we will tackle is: “It’s so expensive.”
By the way, if this series prompts you to be more hospitable in the new year, please see this post on making hospitality resolutions.
Stay humble, work hard, be kind.
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