Let's set the table together.

Inspiring moments and memories shared around The Table Together.

Cooking for Guests | Tuesday's Tip of the Day!

When cooking for guests, or even a date, never ever try making a dish for the first time! Beside adding more stress to your plate – literally – cooking a new recipe can easily turn from a great idea to disaster!  Here are a few other tips to consider when preparing your menu.

Be Realistic:

Regardless of how many people you are inviting, always be realistic about what you can manage. For example, how much counter space do you have? How many burners, and ovens will you need at any given point? And this should be a given, but do you have enough manpower to execute all components for each dish? Don’t rely on your guests to help as they may be in the mindset of mingling and not cooking.

Set the Table:

One thing you can do to save yourself the day of, is to set the table the day before. Don’t forget to add flowers to your shopping list!


Write down the menu, print any recipes you need and pull out the serving pieces for each dish. This way you know that everything will have a home and can easily be transferred once ready. I go a step farther and place a sticky note in each serving dish so when its time to serve, there is no question what goes where.


Actually write a shopping list and try to purchase as many items as you can  (the non-perishables like stock, canned items and sturdy vegetables like potatoes for your famous au gratin) as far in advance as possible. This way, the day before you are simply picking up proteins, lettuce and flowers.


Write out a quick overview of when items need to be removed from the fridge (especially any proteins), when the oven should be turned on, when to start cooking, adding finishing touches, tossing, plating, serving, filling water glasses, corking wine, etc. Nothing is worse than a wilted salad and cold casseroles.


If people ask to help, they most often genuinely mean it! This can especially come in handy when its time to serve and dishes are just finishing cooking. Have them help plate, garnish or even bring to the serving area. People like to feel included as if they were a part of something so offering them a simple task “can you grab me the platter that says pork chops” can easily do the trick. Don’t ask them to cook or cut anything as chances are they didn’t dress for an evening of cooking. And lastly, always offer them an apron.


As guests finish their meal, don’t collect plates until everyone is finished eating. This way, no one feels rushed. You can always say something like “I am going to start the coffee, would anyone like some with their dessert?” for a nice subtle way to encourage faster eating.

And lastly, as your guests make their exit, always thank them for a wonderful evening even if they didn’t thank you.

Now with that, let’s set The Table Together!

Cheers to starting a new tradition around The Table Together!



Tiffany Lewis

Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!