Entertaining 101 - What's Your Scenario?

Many new or reluctant hostesses ask themselves these questions when they consider entertaining:

What will we eat?
Where will we sit?
When will I serve?
What will I say?

Here are some simple dinner ideas, divided into different categories. See if any of these fit your scenario of entertaining, or if you find them helpful.

Cook a frozen lasagna (Costco’s are good!)
Buy fresh French bread and an oil/vinegar dipping sauce
Have your guests bring salad and wine, or whatever you choose to drink
Buy a cheesecake and top with fresh berries
Besides a little organization, there’s really no cooking involved!

Cook a whole chicken (or 2) (try my Balsamic Chicken recipe)
Add Mashed or Scalloped Potatoes (potatoes are cheap!)
Green beans (cook with a little bit of bacon and onion, adding ¼ c. sugar and ¼ c. white vinegar for a zippy flair!)
Fresh French bread
Have your guests bring dessert and wine, or whatever you choose to drink
This meal comes in under $12!

Cook Costco’s Frozen Shrimp Scampi (6 minutes), adding 2 cups baby spinach and one can of diced tomatoes. Serve on whole-wheat linguine with grated Parmesan cheese
Buy a salad in a bag (these are great when you are in a hurry, because they come with all the fixings, plus the dressing), adding some toasted nuts.
Make up a pan of brownies and serve with ice cream and chocolate sauce (better yet, have your kids make dessert while you are making the main course!)
Have your guests bring the bread and wine, or whatever you choose to drink
This dinner could be ready and on the table in 20 minutes or less!

All three of these meals can be served either buffet style or family style! Set your table in a simple way, or better yet, if you have kids, give them the job and let them be creative using their own style. Or, you don’t even have to have a dining table – make it simple by sitting around in your living room or patio area!

These are really easy menus. Your guests are contributing (which they love to do!), and you don’t have to worry about serving or timing things just right. None of these entrees have to be eaten immediately. Keeping them warm with foil on top works for all 3!

Lastly, keep the conversation going. Ask your guests questions! Questions are invitations – they welcome people and invite people in! They encourage people to confide, to dream, and to share! They also break through the barriers that keep us from growing close.

As you branch out with this risky invitation to your guests, remember this: You are not being judged like you may think! Chances are you’re being greatly appreciated! And if you get in a bind, refer to my 10 Commandments here for some quick tips.

Entertaining 101 is easier than you think!

(I’d love to hear from readers if you’d like more posts on: A) You don’t like to cook (Help! I need Recipes!), B) You are on a tight budget, or C) You love to cook, but you’re short on time.)


ellen b. said...

These are all such great ideas. It really is easier than we think in our heads to sit down and have a pleasant meal together. If we can just remember how encouraging it can be to share a simple meal and show each other God's love. So sweet, so good for us and the Body of Christ. Blessings on you...

GiBee said...

You can even serve a Costco rotiserie chicken, a salad in a bag, frozen veggies or potato dish, and a costco dessert... voila... little to no cooking! When you invite people over, it's not usually about the food, but rather, about the company, anyway!!!

Tracy said...

"You are not being judged like you may think! Chances are you’re being greatly appreciated!"

So true! Thanks for the great tips!

Wendy said...

Great ideas! I have to always remind myself that it really isn't about how perfect my house looks or the food, but more about the company and how we loved them, etc.

Anonymous said...

This was a great post. These ideas give you time to think about the GUESTS rather than the food, house,etc. I would love more of these posts. Its hard to say which category, but definitely short on money and time!! THANKS!!! P.S. More food ideas for when you need to eat on the sofa, etc. because there's not enough table space to go around.


Anonymous said...

Today I was going through all my cookbooks because I HAVE to entertain very soon. I thought I had hit a dead end. Then I logged onto your blod! Wow! You have given the the green light to go head and start calling everyone to come on over for dinner.
Your blog is great. Please don't stop. I might need to come back for more words of encourgament.


OKGardners said...

I love your ideas and your encouragement! You are THE BOOST I need to get me started.

I like EVERYTHING you post and love the easy dining ideas and PROOF that meals don't have to be time consuming, but just fun times with easy prep foods.

Keep posting the things you do - thy are perfect. I love them all.

Betty in Oklahoma

Dawn said...

Great ideas. For me, my biggest obstacle that I usually need to overcome in entertaining is that I just need to choose a date, some friends, and pick up the phone!

Nadine said...

Great post with wonderful ideas across the board.

Jen said...

This goes perfect with tonight...my parents are coming for dinner. We are grilling steaks, I'm making Twice Baked Potato Casserole,,,green bean bundles and French bread...spinach artichoke dip or an appetizer and triple fudge cake (My daughter is making this) with caramel sauce for dessert.....I love to entertain.....and have tried all of the about.........

Anonymous said...

Great recipe ideas. Thanks!

deb meyers

CandiceM said...

I LOVE to entertain....but I've really had to work on not having everything 'perfect'!! Ya know, perfect house, perfect food, perfect dessert. It all ends up me stressed out and spending waaaaaay to much money!! LOL!!

Why is entertaining disappearing? No one seems to do it anymore. My husband is a preacher and only TWO couples have had us over!! We LOVE to have people over. What happened to the days of Luci and Ricky where people had dinner parties all the time? It's getting to be a lost art.

Mrs. Darling said...

Well Im one that loves to cook but am short on time. I have lots of reipes for this but the one you listed above was not one of them. So yes, I could use more ideas on that line.

An Ordinary Mom said...

You are making this sound so doable! Thanks!

tearjerker said...


After spending the last year living with my mom, my family is finally getting to move into our own place again! And, my first thought when we found out we got it was, "When can I set my first dinner party for?" and then the second, "What shall I cook?" and the first thing that came to mind was your Mango Chicken! LOL

Thanks Sandy! These tips are great!

Org Junkie said...

Fantastic tips as always Sandy, thank you!

ValleyGirl said...

Dang, you're just removing ALL my excuses!!! I love this post, Sandy, because so many times, those are exactly the excuses we use. Mostly I just need to invite someone over and worry about the "logistics" later!! So many of them aren't really logistics, but cleverly disguised excuses. They're tricky, those excuses!

Ornery's Wife said...

Congrats on your sale! That is an awesome feeling to have gotten rid of so much stuff! You clearly had much more than I did to get rid of! :-)

This was a great post. I just need to figure out who to invite.

Kirstin said...

Great post Sandy! Costco is amazing with it's pre-prepared meals. Even in the frozen section there are so many options. I haven't bought them, but their chicken pot pies are yummy too!

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Costco lasagna fan here. :-) I'm famous for my Costco parties, you can really make things easy on yourself and I've found that some of their meals are a real bargain, compared to all the ingredients I'd have to buy (cheeses and meats are spendy), the stress and mess of preparing them, and because cooking is not really "my thing" it is a great way to still entertain and not feel overwhelmed.

Great post, Sandy!

Nancy said...

You always make it sound so easy & fun. And usually it is once I get over my phobia....whatever it is! Being judged, maybe? My husband is the entertainer at our house and doesn't understand my reluctance. Maybe if I keep reading here I'll get the confidence I need to "just do it!" I don't love to cook so I'd like to see more recipe ideas. Thanks!

Mrs. Jones said...

I'm going to print this post and hang it on my cupboard door. Half the time I don't have people over because I don't know what to make and I would have to go to the grocery store and it takes half a day.

I would be interested in hearing more about all 3 categories.


Mrs. B. said...

I just had some friends over and we ordered take-out. Didn't have to cook a thing! Then I whipped up a fun little dessert!

G. said...

cooking a whole chicken is a great idea for company. I cook one about once a week here because they are easy and inexpensive. I'm definitely going to try your balsamic chicken. Balsamic vinegar is probably one of my favorite pantry items. Thanks for your great ideas!

Bev said...

Yes, and Yes, and Yes - thanks so much!