Drinks, Food, Food & Drink

Think like a Caterer: Karen Short’s Expert Advice For Hosting a stress-free, stylish party

November 5, 2018, Author: Danita Pilley

As we head into the festive season there’s only one thing on our minds and that’s socialising! No matter the event – cocktails and canapés, a multi-course sit-down dinner, or a relaxed brunch we’ve got you covered! If there’s anyone who can host the perfect get together its hospitality trendsetter and founder of By Word of  Mouth and Frozen for You, Karen Short. Here are her top entertaining tips:

Create a budget and stick to it.

It’s easy to get carried away with extravagant catering and stunning décor, but the first step toward stress-free entertaining is deciding what you want to spend. Then commit to sticking within your means.

 Simplify the guest list

After you determine the number of guests you can afford, curate and cut your guest list again and again until you have just the right mix of people. If you’re not sure whether to invite someone, ask yourself, ‘Have I seen or spoken to this person in the last year?’, then decide. Remember, this isn’t a wedding – there’s no pressure to invite everyone you know.

Set the scene the night before

Ask yourself, does my home feel warm and inviting? Does it smell good? Will guests feel comfortable? Go for overall ambience and don’t worry too much about the little details no one will notice, like the dusty bookshelves. Save time by laying out linen, crockery, cutlery, glassware, candles, flowers and any other décor the evening before. Pull in favours and outsource a few jobs if you can… friends, kids and partners are usually willing to help!

Set up a self-serve bar

Stock up on plenty of soft drinks, beer, wine, champagne, a few bottles of spirits, and ice, and if you’re feeling adventurous, set out fruit slices and fresh herbs to muddle or garnish drinks with. Don’t forget the cocktail jiggers for measuring, and let your guests get creative and play mixologist.


Keep the menu simple and fresh

By far, the biggest help in stress-free entertaining is a quality heat and serve meal, like the gourmet ones my fellow chefs and I create at Frozen for You. By choosing a hearty, wholesome main that you simply pop in the oven, you can concentrate on prepping a few delicious sides to dress-up the main dish – like vegetable bakes, fragrant rice, creamy sauces, fresh salads and crusty bread – all of which are available from frozen too. How convenient is that?


Remember to cater for special diets

Ask ahead of time and have vegetarian, banting or gluten-free options available if needed. Instead of cooking a separate meal, or limiting the entire menu to a few special requests, simply pick up single-serving portions from Frozen for You to ensure all guests are cared and catered for.

 Sweet and easy

Avoid finicky desserts that need to be done last minute, like poached fruit or crème brûlée, and opt for the perfect way to end a meal – a pre-prepped, crowd-pleasing treat, like a summery tarte au citron, creamy and crunchy meringue roulade or decadently moist chocolate yogurt cake with a sticky chocolate ganache.

Finally – don’t bite off more than you can chew

Let go of perfection. Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring something along or go for a good-quality store-bought option to ease the pressure. Guests can sense if the host is anxious or running around in circles, and your mood will have a radiating effect, so take a deep breath, sip something cold, start the music, and mingle with your guests. You want to have fun at your party after all!

And, it’s as easy as that!

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