We love a good house party. Not the kind you drunkenly stumbled from in your student years, but a nice grown-up one where you can, slightly drunk and very tired, stumble from your backyard to your bed after all the guests are gone, leaving the dishes until tomorrow. “House party” might be a little outdated term, and that’s why we’ve re-branded it as a shindig: “a large, lively party, especially one celebrating something” (thanks for putting words to our feelings, Dictionary).
These are our best and truest tips, but please tell us in the Comments if you also have a few to add.
1. Choose dishes that rely on the same key ingredients, to save you time and money.
For example, at a recent get together (a.k.a. my birthday party) I picked nectarines as one of my key ingredients and, because it was in season, I saved quite a bit. I used it in a couple of recipes, so there was minimal wastage, and I could buy in bulk to save even more.
2. Play to both adventurous and more traditional tastes.
Traditional doesn’t have to be boring. To be honest, anything with potato & cheddar cheese will make even the grouchiest uncle happy, and there’s a lot you can do with those two ingredients. But don’t be afraid to please the more adventurous palate, like your own, probably. Since you'll be the one prepping all of this, and cleaning up afterwards, your guests can at least humour your very stinky cheese, liver paste, or flaming curry dip. And we can promise you, it's the 'weird stuff' that people finish first. Always.
3. Starches are your best friend.
It's delicious, filling, and it won't break the bank. Think starchy veggies like potatoes and sweet potato, phyllo pastry or puff pastry (you can buy rolls of the stuff at your local supermarket, but remember to opt for the all butter option. Just trust us, it's better), a freshly baked bread like a baguette, deep-fried mac n cheese bites, and the list goes on.
4. Dips, drizzles and jams bring it all together.
Having options allow your peckish guests to play and experiment with their favourite combination of flavours. It also creates the illusion that you have so much more on offer, since your dips, drizzles, and jams open the door to endless delicious combinations. But heed this warning: make your dips fresh, and use real ingredients. Dips of the instant variety are literally where food dreams go to die.
5. Cheaper Cuts of Meat are in no way inferior.
Tough (but affordable, yay!) meats ask for a little more love & attention, so maybe start prepping that brisket with rooibos and peaches the day before. Starting a day early is also a great idea to take some pressure off of prepping the morning of the party.
1. Let your guests create their own experience.
This includes building their own drinks, exploring the food in their own time and on their own terms, and allowing them to drink a lot or drink a little, without any beady side eye.
2. Let your guests roam free.
If you don't like people snooping around, potentially breaking a glass or two, or spilling red wine on your white couch/rug, then lock it away, or don't have house get-togethers whatsoever. Your fellow human will pick up on your restlessness, stress, and other negative vibes, and it will cause an all-round stiff atmosphere.
3. Take an hour for yourself before guests arrive.
Plan thoroughly to ensure that you are done prepping at least an hour before your guests arrive. If you live in Pretoria, or Gauteng for that matter, it means you can carry on prepping for at least an hour after the arrival time on the invite and still have time to take a quick bath before your guests actually start to arrive.
4. Planning a grownup party is like family planning for hamsters.
If there's enough food, drink, and space, the babies won't get eaten. Make sure you have enough space for the different groups to exist alongside each other peacefully.
5. Do the rounds.
Make a genuine effort to spend time with each of your guests and have a sincere conversation with them. Yes, I know gin is your mistress, but just try, okay?
6. Have someone on door duty.
This will help you focus your energy on the gathering crowd in your backyard. A significant other or little sister works perfectly for this. Just make sure to thank them the next morning with breakfast in bed or at a restaurant of their choice.
7. Create cosy corners
Quiet nooks inside and outside the house will help guests take a break from the noise. Yes, I’m looking at the introverts.
FRIENDS PITCHING IN
1. Ask your guests to meet you in the middle
If you, like all of us, struggle to get through the month without turning to canned beans in the last week, you definitely can't afford to host an entire party all by yourself. And your friends, hungry for some good times, will meet you in the middle because they are your friends and they know life is tough and the least they can do is bring their own drinks.
2. Don't meet your guests in the middle
Meet them two-thirds of the way. Let them bring the drinks, while you supply the mix and garnishes. Ask them to bring their own meats for the braai, but make sure you supply the side dishes. Part of having a good time at someone's party is feeling special a.k.a like you're getting more than you expected.
Frederika & Michelle