A relaxed host is the primary thing that can turn any event into a special one, so the first piece of advice I always give people who are in unsure about their own hosting, is to just relax. Your home is your home, you are opening it up with love and good intentions, and whatever you are serving you are serving with love and friendship, and as long as that is true, then the rest is just noise. The second tip? Have a snack mix.
If you are not a natural host, I always suggest inviting people for drinks instead of dinner. This means less food pressure, and usually a time limitation. And if you have some little snacks around, no cooking is really required. Think bar snacks and not appetizers. Chips or pretzels. Baby carrots or raw snap peas or radishes in a bowl. And my go-to last minute snack, nut-fruit-chocolate mix.
Watch: How to Make Piña Colada Snack Mix
This blend is one of the easiest things you can toss together, but the bowl empties shockingly fast. It is just a 1:1:1 ratio of nuts to fruit to chocolate. The thing that keeps it from going to a trail mix place is that you are only using one kind of each. One nut, one dried fruit, one type of chocolate.
It can be seasonal…pistachio, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips makes for a festive Christmasy mix. It can be a little fancy, hazelnut, dried cherry, and large dark chocolate disks is a favorite for more elegant parties. It can be kid-friendly, with honey roasted peanuts, raisins and milk chocolate chips or M&Ms, or super grown-up with cashews, dried white mulberries, and bittersweet chocolate chunks. You can make it up into jars to have on hand or toss it together last minute.
Even better? Both the nuts and chocolate can be stored in the freezer, and dried fruit lasts a year in your pantry, so you can stock up so you always have what you need on hand. If you have these three ingredients in your pantry, and a bottle of wine? Invite your favorite friend over after work to catch up, and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you decide you need dinner, there is always pizza.