Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it makes me a bit anxious thinking about the preparation and time involved with entertaining (I am not a great cook – but don’t tell anyone!).

Fortunately, I was able to speak with Steve McVicker, co-founder of Matt & Steve’sand Steve shared with me some of his top tips for hosting a great party, enjoying yourself and your guests having a great time.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand this equation – less time serving equals more time socializing.

We’ve all been there before. You’ve organized a get together with all of your closest family and friends, yet you spend the entire night in the kitchen instead of enjoying your company. How do you choose between being a great host and being sociable with your guests?

Focus on these 3 key elements: Ambiance, Appetizers and Beverages.

STEP ONE: Ambiance set up food and drink stations in separate areas to encourage roaming and mingling.

Provide comfortable seating areas to allow for guests to easily join in the conversation.

An evening campfire or a fire pit is a great way to finish off the night and gather groups together.

Candles also make a great alternative and offer endless options to meet your party’s needs. Here is a hint: don’t use scented candles in areas where people will be eating. The mix of scent and food may not be a good mix.

STEP TWO: Appetizers

Provide appetizers that are simple to prepare, such as charcuterie boards, to save time before guests arrive.

Ensure you have restock-able appetizers on hand to cut down on serving time throughout the party. “One bite” or snackable portions are key – this encourages your guests to both eat and mingle

STEP THREE: Beverages

Opt for self-serve drink stations complete with necessary glasses and bar tools so guests are satisfied throughout the night. You can even go a step further by preparing a party punch or a cocktail in a beverage dispenser for easy serving.

Ice, ice and more ice! Cold beverages are a crucial element to throwing a great event. Ensure you have non-alcoholic beverages for your guests who decide to pass on drinking. Sparkling water, fun summer bevies, lemonades, sodas and tonics all make great options.

Beer makes a great conversation starter! Fill a bucket or a cooler with ice and arrange a variety of interesting light, dark and IPA options inside.

Nothing is impossible – except trying to open a wine bottle when your guests are expecting a drink. Select a few different wine options and pre-open the bottles. Remember to chill whites and blushes, and to let reds stand at room temperature.

Not only are Caesar bars super interactive, but they also make a great aperitif.

Want to make your party really special? Instead of having a big floral arrangement in the centre of your table, go to your own backyard and find some holly and branches for a beautiful natural arrangement that won’t cost you anything, looks pretty and takes up less space on your table (more room for entertaining!).

Will kids be at the party? Make a kids table and cover it with kraft paper and put out crayons to keep them occupied and entertained for hours.

Label dishes. This will make it easier for your guests to identify dishes and understand the ingredients. Making this Thanksgiving more enjoyable for everyone.

Please feel free to share your tips and ideas on making entertaining easier and more fun, I would love to hear from you.

Let’s have the very best Thanksgiving ever!

Disclosure: This video was partially sponsored by the business featured in this video. This video and post also appear in, and all opinions in the post and video are completely my own.

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