Who can qualify as the perfect host? The traditionalists, who serve expensive and classy wines at their elegant dinners? The people who keep their whole kitchen immaculately polished, clean their ovens often and produce great cooking results? Or the grandma who fries meatballs and potatoes all day and firmly takes the stance that her grandchildren should eat mesmerising amounts of food and praise her how delicious everything is?
You've kept all the rules to serve a tasty and healthy dinner – you've cleaned the oven, you've mixed the right ingredients at the right time, you have served a beautiful table. Now the question comes – how are you going to help the guests feel like home?
What to cook when my new friend's boyfriend is a vegetarian, my cousin has an allergy, whereas my colleague is on a strange diet that excludes any kind of mushrooms in the menu? Not to mention the mayhem when the mother-in-law enters the kitchen (by chance) and sees that you haven't exactly did your best oven cleaning these days.
Three of the guests are smokers, whereas the rest of them hate the cigarette smoke?
It's crazy. Let's make it less crazy.
What happens if, accidentally, one of your guests enters your kitchen and stumbles upon a swirl of kitchen paper, potato peels, oil and food leftovers dripping off the oven? God forbid, that's someone on your better half's side. We either have to put a strict ban on entering the kitchen, or, make sure to keep your level of cleanliness high.
You are inviting guests over – even if you will be the main chef, they will either want to help or will bring food. That is a predisposition for the people to enter the kitchen, whether you like it or not. So, when you schedule a home dinner, make sure to do some cleaning in advance. Deal with the most awfully looking items first – scrub the oven, its chamber and racks. Professional oven cleaning Birmingham experts even suggest for this procedure to take place once every 6 months and especially before the autumn and winter cooking season come knocking on your door.
I guarantee you it's quite hard to remember which nephew is lactose-intolerant, which cousin is allergic to peanuts, fish or doesn't eat red meat, whose girlfriend's sole preference is vegetarian meals.
If you have to feed several of the above personas at once, try that one of the meals is a part of everyone's diet. It's best not to serve food that one of the guests is allergic to, due to the danger of accidental swallowing a piece of it and allergic shock. Try to serve several smaller plates, so that you can satisfy everyone's preferences.
You probably talk on your mobile in the car, the tram or the cafés, but, please, don't flip it out at the dinner table. If you expect an important talk, turn the vibration mode on and warn the others that you might have to go out to talk on the phone. Mention this occasion only if it serious enough – you happen to be a doctor on call, a relative of yours is in labour, etc.
Never go in someone's house for dinner or party empty-handed. A bottle of wine is always a reasonable choice for a gift, but maybe the idea won't be quite good if the hosts don't drink or their taste is too sophisticated. In the second case scenario, it's good to research what kind of wines they like, and, if they are too costly – bet on a bouquet or a flower pot or a box of chocolates.
If you invite guests who are smokers at home, where you normally don't smoke, put ashtrays on the balcony or outside. If someone lights a cigarette inside without asking, don't worry to point them towards the opened places for smoking. The polite guests always ask the hosts whether they can light a cigarette in their home.
It's not easy for the guests to offer a hand with the cleaning after the party. Almost always the offered help is ruled out, even if the host needs it so much. Do it without asking - at the moment that he or she begins collecting the plates, get up and take part in it. If they tell you it's not necessary, offer to serve the coffee or the desert plates. There are, of course, many people, which don't like to let anyone in their kitchen and prefer to do everything on their own – in this case, step back.
Midnight has passed, while the dinner is still in its climax. You've been cooking all day and you are exhausted. Despite your constant yawns, one of the guests seems like ready to talk till the morning. Is there a polite way to say that it's time to go home? If hints don't work, try actively cleaning up the table, doing the dishes or turning the dishwasher on. Taking out the vacuum cleaner should really convince them that it's time to go.