Happy/Graceful Hostess Tips: Expect Things to Go Wrong

This first hostess tip falls into both the Happy Hostess (planning before the party) and Graceful Hostess (at the party) categories.

My current supervisor introduced me to the concept of expecting things to go wrong, which I found to be absolutely liberating and life changing. I'm a super-detailed planner by nature, and when a kink would show up in my plans, it would completely throw me off. "How can things be perfect now that XYZ has gone wrong?!" I would get so frustrated in these cases and turn into a frazzled mess.

When you expect that things will go wrong in your party planning and at the party, you're more mentally prepared to deal with these kinks quickly and effectively. These kinks are no longer party DISASTERS; they are simply something minor that didn't go according to plan. No biggie! This concept is absolutely critical to being a calm, composed, and graceful hostess.

To give you a recent example, my husband and I were hosting a casual cook-out, and for desert I made these super rich Ghirardelli brownies with Symphony chocolate bars layered in between. (They are killer, by the way!!!) I'm always paranoid I'll burn brownies because you can't tell by looking at them because they are "burnt" colored already, and as a result, I have a tendency to under cook them. With all of the other meal preparations, I hadn't had a chance to cut into the brownies until about 15 minutes before our guests were to arrive. They were super gooey and looked like brown slime on the bottom. Even though gooey brownies are still delicious, these did not look appetizing in the least.

Instead of freaking out, running to the store to buy something else, and risk being an absent hostess, I took a deep breath and tried to figure out how I could quickly salvage the situation. I had purchased some whipped cream to go with the brownies, so I quickly whipped up a brownie trifle by layering this with the ooey-gooey brownies. I solved the problem and got my kitchen tidied back up in 15 miutes.

I didn't dwell on the problem, and as a result, I was able to enjoy our company all night. The guests never even knew something went wrong. The end result looked more impressive than the original dessert presentation I had planned, and as an added bonus, it ended up tasting really similar to my favorite dessert at Carrabba's, which is the Chocolate Dream. I would have never tried making this trifle, but I will definitely be making it again.

My point is this. You can hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. But even then, you can't forsee all of the possibilities of what could go wrong. The best you can do is mentally prepare for the unthinkable, so you can handle any kinks that happen before and during your party with style and grace.

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