It's party season. Sure, we can say that about any month in San Antonio (save for maybe August when we all hide out in the comfort of our HVAC homes and apartments), but November and December mean constant planning, hosting and partying whether you're going to a dessert-lover's paradise, a photo fest or your friend's place for Friendsgiving (and the newly minted Friendsmas or Friendsnukkah).
To that point, we've tapped some of the city's best party hosts for a few tips on how to make your next soiree especially lit and as painless as possible. Read on if you're tackling hosting duties (or even if you want to be a courteous guest).
Sophie Covo, Paper Tiger/Empty Stomach
John and Elise Russ, of the upcoming Clementine
- Everyone LOVES a photo-op, set up a simple back drop or get a couple of props and watch the IG posts flow. Great way to engage your guests.
- FINGER FOODS and informal dinner arrangements are great because they are easier to execute, they encourage mixing and mingling and no one gets too full to party. Food comas are not fun at parties.
- If you want an upbeat party, play upbeat music. No one has fun listening to Bright Eyes.
- Unless you are doing something super intimate for a reason, the more, really is the merrier.
- Work smarter. I have so often gone over the top on little details that no one noticed or cared about. Do less, and do it really well. Instead of having six kinds of assorted cheese, have two really good options.
We've learned that...
Sarah and Olivia Hinojosa, Honeysuckle Tea Time
- A badass cheese platter with great bread and crackers will destroy your guests' appetite, so if your worried about supper, nail the cheese platter and vice versa.
- A great host is able to toe the line on sobriety; its easy when you start after the last guest arrives.
- If you are unsure of the cooking skills of your guests at a potluck, ask them to bring booze, or bubbles.
- Plan on clean up, when guests ask if there is something the can help with, don't be afraid to ask them to chip in. Guests, CHIP IN!
- Since it's the holidays, plan on someone over serving them self. It's OK, it happens. Be kind, gracious, and call them a cab.
- Be safe. Take keys, make strong suggestions, whatever works; above all be safe. Its the holla-days.
Mariah Delaye Lange, former Culinary Concierge at Hotel Emma
- Charcuterie is queen in our house. We always lay a spread out so our guests can munch while we work out the final dinner preparations. Liv makes amazing jams and we usually have a ton of cured meats and cheeses on hand. We like to serve both bread and crackers, nuts and dried fruits, and figs and grapes are staples. I love making cranberry walnut bread! We love honeycomb from Gretchen Bee Ranch!
- Set a calm mood. Friendsgiving is about relaxing and appreciating friends & food. We light candles and have nice music playing. We make this stovetop concoction that makes the house smell nice and festive. It's usually cloves, star anise, ginger and cinnamon set on a simmer.
- Ditch the turkey, but keep it simple! Everyone already ate turkey for Thanksgiving and are probably still trying to get rid of leftovers, so we like to do duck or pork loin. Something that is still able to be served family style is always fun. Sometimes we like to throw in surprise elements to the spread or try out new recipes. The year we did duck we made scallion pancakes and ginger rice!
- Set the table and serve family style. Layer linens! Pretty platters and natural wood for serving. Throw everything on the table and let your guests choose what they do and don't like (we all have that picky friend!) Plastic is okay for easy cleanup, but make sure it's a nice hard plastic! Drop a few extra bucks at Ace Mart for the disposable ware that looks almost too good to throw away. Friendsgiving comes but once a year!
- I would say to not worry about cooking a whole turkey, it’s complete overkill... stick to a good size breast, or even better get one from Whole Foods or Central Market already cooked.
- Assign one to two side items per friend/guest, but someone has to organize so no one doubles up.
- Don’t run out of booze! Stock up on some easy punch ingredients just in case.