What’s the use of “make it ahead” recipe recommendations when you’re scrambling to figure out exactly how to finish them correctly? It’s important to keep organized when entertaining, especially in the chaos of greeting incoming guests and juggling multiple tasks. To eliminate the need to pull out the recipes themselves in the rush of finishing a dish and getting it on the table, try this (which also allows friends to help out easily): Write the remaining recipe instructions on a label or piece of masking tape and stick it to the container holding the dish to be finished. For instance, for lasagna, the note might read: “Bake covered for 15 minutes at 375, remove foil, bake 25 minutes longer.”
No, not that kind of dry. More like the “don’t get water stains on their shirt if you can help it” type of dry. Instead of risking dribbles from a cold-drink pitcher while refilling guests’ glasses, use a little fat secret. Smear a small dab of butter on the inside and outside edges of the pitcher’s spout. When you pour from the pitcher, the butter stops drops of liquids just as they’re about the take the plunge.
If you’re down to last-minute preparations for a cocktail party and find yourself without an ice bucket, it pays to be an ice cream fiend. Why? A frozen ice cream maker canister makes an excellent ice bucket that will keep ice cubes frozen for several hours. To protect furniture in case any condensation forms on the outside of the canister, place it on a plate or tray.
Your raw veggies can get all the aesthetic help they can get, so give ‘em a boost with some presentation tricks. To elevate a small bowl full of bite-sized items such as cherry tomatoes or trimmed broccoli florets, overturn a small glass or ceramic bowl to use as a stand for the bowl holding the tomatoes; put a small piece of folded plastic wrap between the two to keep the top bowl from sliding off the bottom one. Additionally, give celery and carrot sticks extra lift (and freshness) by standing them up in glasses or cups with a few ice cubes in the bottom.
Many hors d’oeuvres, from shrimp cocktail to chips and salsa, involve small bowls of dipping sauce that can slide all over the serving platter—a particularly precarious threat when carrying the food around the room. Want things to be a little more stable? Dab a bit of creamed honey on the bottom of the bowl you’ll use to hold the dipping sauce. Secure the bowl to the platter, and arrange the food for dipping around it.