From the time Heather was a child she loved entertaining. Whether it was setting up parties for her Barbies or having the high school French Club over for a festive holiday gathering, serving homemade crêpes and a bûche de Noël cake, entertaining came naturally.
Heather thought that this affinity for entertaining was normal for everyone since she was used to seeing her paternal grandmother and mom enjoy cooking and entertaining so much. Her mom is still the one who prepares way too much for gatherings but enjoys every minute of it.
“I can’t remember a time when my grandmother wasn’t prepared to host someone who just stopped by. It didn’t matter the time or what she had in her cabinets, she always whipped up something sweet to share with a cup of coffee or two,” Heather says. “My mom is the same way. There must be dessert!”
“I loved seeing how my grandmother’s and mother’s extra effort made people feel. They appreciated the time and thoughtfulness that went into making something especially for them. When I host a dinner at my home or prepare something to take to an event, I put a lot of thought into it. I want people to really enjoy it. And, I have to confess, I do love it when they ask me for the recipe!”
Over the years this love of entertaining, cooking, and baking has grown. Heather loves to be in the kitchen. It is relaxation for her, and she cooks six days out of the week for her family because she enjoys it!
Being editor of Entertain Decorate Celebrate is a perfect fit for Heather. She brings an outlook to the magazine that matches many of her subscribers. Due to time constraints and busy schedules she knows sometimes you can’t throw the biggest bash with décor and homemade recipes, so Heather started really focusing on offering something for everyone.
“We are all so busy, and we want to host over-the-top events, but we can’t do it all of the time. The most important thing is to focus on the moment,” Heather says. “So sometimes that means I put a lot into the décor and then my dishes have only two things homemade and some items that are already prepared from the store. Or, I jumpstart a recipe with something prepared. For example, I take a spinach dip, add in some really good shaved Parmesan-Reggiano and herbs, warm, and serve with slices of toasted French baguette. Other times I will focus primarily on the food, sometimes even allowing the food to be the centerpiece and maybe only add in some fresh flowers or votive candles for ambience,” Heather says.
The Celebrate team executed the latter style in this fantastic seasonal birthday party when they utilized the birthday cake and presents as part of the ambience. When the team saw how beautiful the Triple Chocolate Brownie Cake with Caramel Buttercream Icing (pictured below) was it was decided that it would be the centerpiece on the table. They thought, “Why not let is shine?’” And, it did! Here is the recipe for that delicious dessert.
“There is no right or wrong way to entertain. You have to find a balance for you. All of your gatherings don’t have to be handmade décor and homemade dishes. If you can do that, that’s excellent! But, if you can’t, don’t allow that to keep you from hosting an event,” Heather says. “Make it your own, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!”
Here are some easy entertaining tips from Heather:
Think it through. When you decide to host an event, big or small, you need a list. How many will you invite? What is your theme? Or, will you have one? Will you decorate? Will you cater the food or make your own? Feature a signature drink or wine? These are a few questions that will determine your next steps.
Premake what you can. Look for recipes that you can prepare in the days before the event. This could be as easy as baking cupcakes and then freezing them to frost later or prepping components of a dish so that you can easily begin the day of the gathering.
Time it out. Make the gathering as easy on yourself as you can. Make sure you have plenty of time to get things done so that you aren’t rushing to complete tasks as people are arriving. Begin cleaning days before so that you only have to freshen up the party areas. Do anything you can to decorate in the days leading up to event. Call on friends and family members to help as well! Be specific with assignments.
Be spontaneous. It’s OK to decide to host an impromptu party. Every event doesn’t have to be thoroughly planned. You want to be able to have a couple go-to dishes that you can prepare quickly or sometimes, better yet, the number of a favorite restaurant that does amazing carryout family meals. Run by a grocery store floral department or a plant nursery for a couple of fresh ideas for decorating the table. Sometimes it really can be that simple.
Have fun. Just because you are hosting the event doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself too. Don’t let stress take the joy out of the event.