I know this sounds like a strange concept – “have your guests help cook at your dinner party” – but I totally believe in it. I hate that awkward part of parties in the beginning where guests are just showing up. Inevitably you will probably end up with the first two people coming not knowing each other very well or any other number of things. Then you have people standing around while you’re probably putting the final touches on food. A long time ago I started giving my guests things to do when they walked in the door – it’s less awkward for them because they’re not watching me do all of the work, and it’s less awkward to me because then we’re both occupied – and it’s really helpful. For my 21st birthday (no, not the prom birthday party, I actually had two 21st birthday parties) I decided we were all going to cook dinner together. I put all of my guests to work when the walked in the door. There’s plenty to do to get ready for a dinner party, might as well prepare together – and then you have even more of an appreciation for the feast at the end.
I chose Italian as the theme for the dinner – and with that there are a million things you can do – grate cheese, make garlic bread, cook pasta, make the sauce, dice tomatoes, etc. I made the dessert ahead of time and saved the meal for the guests.
Moral of the story here? You’re not expected to do everything yourself as the hostess. You’re expected to coordinate the logistics. The who, where, why, when, what. As long as you know how each one of those is going to happen – you’re golden. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, people are probably so happy that you’ve handled the logistics that they’re willing to contribute in any way that they can.