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The most common entertaining faux pas and how to avoid them

When it comes to entertaining there are a few definite dos and don’ts. From keeping it within your budget to providing your guests with a nourishing, unforgettable meal, we dispel the three biggest mistakes that hosts make and how to do it better next time. Here it is: entertaining faux pas 101.

By Jana du Plessis


There is no worse moment when having dinner guests over than the minute you realise that you have run out of food and there are no back-ups waiting in the kitchen. To ensure you have enough to feed the crowd, assess how many dishes you want to serve. If you’re offering snacks beforehand, you can plan for smaller portions during the main meal. If you’re only serving a main meal, go for 150–200g of protein per person, 1 cup of pasta and ½ cup of grains. For vegetables and salads you can use a ¾ cup pp as the rule of thumb, but do keep in mind that if you are serving multiple side dishes (i.e. more than one veg and salad option) you can calculate each serving to be slightly smaller.


Kicking-off the dinner party with a festive toast is a must! If you do decide to provide the drinks, make sure you have a variety to suit all tastes. If you’re going with wine, offer red and white, and add in a sparkling wine or rosé only if your budget allows. Add a few mixer options for hard liquors and always have non-alcoholic options on hand as well. If you find that the drinks are pushing past the limit of your wallet, don’t be shy to ask your friends to bring their own – it’s more common than not these days. Not only will you save the hassle and the cash, but your guests will be able to have exactly what they want.


If all of your dishes are to be served straight from the oven, you’ll end up prepping and cooking as your guests arrive, leaving you to all of the party shenanigans! Plan your menu according to ease of execution as well as to the type of guests you have invited. If there are plenty of kids, something easy like a big bowl pasta or DIY hamburgers will always go down well. But for a more sophisticated crowd, a roast that can be put in the oven and left until dinner time along with a vegetable salad and a grain-filled side that can be prepared in advance is your best bet. If the dish can be chopped, made and cooked ahead of time, it’s a good dish to choose!

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