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The Secrets to Simplified Hosting

Assorted dished for Easter including Ham, fruit salad and deviled eggs
There’s usually quite a bit to consider when hosting any get-together — but there are many ways to help ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible so you can spend more time enjoying the party with your guests while still winning as the hostess with the mostess.

Crafting Your Menu

Choose an appetizer, entrée, side and dessert that fit the same theme or style of food. And don’t forget some tasty cocktails (or mocktails) to round everything out!

First Things First — Your Main Dish

It might feel slightly backwards but always plan around the star of your show. This gives you a starting point for rounding out the rest of the menu with complementary flavors and the right variety of recipes. And be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Plan for an unexpected guest or two, just to be on the safe side. It’s always better to err on the side of having a tad too much.
  • Think about the time of day. People usually expect a lighter meal at lunch or brunch and a heartier one come dinnertime.

Sides That (Nearly) Steal the Show

You have your main dish — and pairing it with the perfect sides can make all the difference. Here are a few of our favorite tips:

  • Plan for both hot and cold dishes, so you don’t have to rush at the last minute. For example, biscuits can be served at room temperature, salads can be made prior and stored in the fridge, while hot sides can stay warm in the slow cooker.
  • Side dishes should always complement, not outshine, your main dish. Don’t make anything too complex or guests could overlook your masterful entrée!

Appealing Appetizers

Easy-to-eat (and delicious) appetizers get the party off to a great start. Not only do they give guests tasty talking points, but apps also work to keep everyone fed but not too full. Here are a few tips to help you set up the perfect smorgasbord:

  • Provide a variety of options with items that range from salty to savory and maybe even a little sweet.
  • Consider the occasion. For example, during a tailgate, everyone will be all about the apps, whereas for a brunch this might not be the case.
  • How long between their arrival and your main entrée? The longer guests wait, the more apps you’ll need.

Drinks That Keep Things Flowing

A drink is a great way to welcome guests into your home. Whether you’re planning to serve old-fashioned lemonade or a sparkling sangria, keep these tips in mind:

  • Do your guests tend to slowly sip a single drink or like a glass or two? Consider this when determining how much to have on hand.
  • How long will your get-together last? The general rule of thumb is guests will drink two drinks in the first hour and one drink every hour for the rest of the party.
  • What’s your budget? To make the most of alcoholic beverages, consult our servings chart below.

Less-Stress Desserts that Impress

There’s plenty to think about when hosting a party, so do yourself a favor and get dessert done the day before — or early on the morning of the event. Crowd-friendly desserts like slab pies, cookies and sheet cakes yield plenty of servings and don’t need to be served warm. One more note: don’t forget to balance the sweet with the savory!

What’s the Right Amount of Food & Drink?

You’ve crafted the perfect menus, now time to calculate how much food and drink you need to bring those menus to life. This not only helps you save time (and money) on prep but can also help you avoid having an abundance of leftovers afterward. We’ve included a handy chart below to help you estimate how much you’ll need of each.

How Much Food to Make (per person)


4 to 5 apps per person (per hour)

Fruit & Vegetables

½ to 2/3 cup

Boneless Meat/Poultry/Fish

4 to 6 ounces

Bone-In Meat/Poultry/Fish

6 to 8 ounces

Main Dish of Pasta/Rice/Grain

1 cup

Side Dish of Pasta/Rice/Grain

½ cup

Tossed Salad

1 to 1 ½ cups


2 to 3 tablespoons


¾ to 1 cup


How to Calculate Drinks 

Punch (one gallon)

24 servings

Wine (one 750 milliliter bottle)

Four servings (6-ounce each)

Liquor (one 750 milliliter bottle)

16 shots (1 ½-ounces)

Have some helpful hosting tips of your own? We’d love to hear them! Share your party tips and photos with us @BettyCrocker.