During the very early days of my dinner party hosting (many moons ago), often after my guests left I’d find the herb I planned to put on top of my main course way in the back of the veggie drawer or notice the amazing artisan bread I planned to put out sitting in the corner of the counter. I was so busy trying to keep on top of everything; I’d often miss the little important details I hoped to incorporate into the evening. I’d be flipping back and forth through multiple cookbooks looking at cooking temperatures and times, I’d be prepping for the next course and making myself crazy trying to stay focused, organized and on track. My guests never seemed to mind or notice for that matter, but I kept thinking there must be a better way to do this. A way I could organize myself so I wouldn’t forget the special touches and wouldn’t find myself in the kitchen stressing while everyone else was having a good time.
One evening, before my guests arrived, I decided to make myself a little “cheat sheet.” Yes, crib notes for my dinner party. I wrote down my entire menu and instead of using the cookbooks I found the recipes in, I wrote down cooking times and oven temperatures all in one place. I kept my cheat sheet in a drawer (out of sight) and every time I entered the kitchen, I glanced over my notes to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything and that all was going according to plan.
With my “cheat sheet” success, I decided to create something that I could print off each time I hosted – the birth of my Dinner Party Worksheet. I added a place to create a seating chart. A section where I recorded what cocktail and wine we served. A section to work out timing (one of the trickiest parts of hosting a dinner party), I even jotted down what I was wearing; so next time Mike and Sally came over, not only did I not serve them the same menu, I also made sure I wasn’t wearing the same outfit (heaven forbid). I would put the worksheets in a loose leaf binder (and continue to do so to this day) and often refer back for dinner party inspiration.
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