How do you put eager guests to work once they arrive? Any recipe recommendations, tips, etc?
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Here is an earlier thread with a similar theme:
Kristy is an expert at making things pretty and a former Associate Editor of Food52.
Hey bstar! I happily let eager guests open bottles of wine and pour. At one party a friend walked in and I handed her a mango to chop up (poor Francesca! I'm so sorry!) -- I've since learned to give myself more time to prep for parties so no one has to dirty their hands.
I actually ask people to come early so they can help with the set up. We have between 8 - 24 people for Thanksgiving and never quite know the final number until a couple of days before. Our table seats 10 max. If there are more than 10, we rent extra tables and chairs and plan to put them in the living room and use the dining room for all the food, serving buffet-style. Most of our friends want to feel like they helped so they bring a item or 2 for the feast (loosely coordinated ahead of time to cover everyone's favorites and dietary needs). I have a large stove & oven and try to have my dishes done about an hour before serving. That way, guests have the counter and cooking space to do last minute things to their dishes & to heat things up. I actually save the set-up tasks for the first guests to arrive: moving living room furniture, setting up extra tables and chairs, putting out the table cloths and napkins, somebody polishes the sterling silver butter dish (it was a wedding gift 37 years ago), flowers are arranged, appetizers passed out, wine and non-alcoholic drinks poured and last minute dish washing. In other words, I do not feel that the dinner has to be "ready" when the guests arrive. Although my kitchen is small, I long ago gave up trying to keep everyone out of the kitchen. The best I can do is to kick the dogs out so there is more room for the guests. Also to have killer appetizers (made the day before) for them to snack on in case anything is late. And, finally, to get over the idea that I have to do most of the work or that guests can't wash dishes. We have LOTS of fun this way!