A few of Julia’s favorite ways to make entertaining more relaxed:
• Serve “interactive” foods: Julia often includes dishes that guests can assemble themselves, like homemade pizzas or grilled sweet potatoes with toppings. At a recent dinner, a simple “tomato bread station” served as an icebreaking appetizer.
• Encourage “participatory hosting.” Julia lets guests contribute if they like to make desserts or arrange flowers, for example, lend a hand in the kitchen, or play some music, which lightens her workload and makes guests feel involved in a part of the event.
• If you don’t have a big enough table or dining area, don’t sweat it! Serve finger foods, a simple buffet, or host outdoors. “Small spaces are actually more conducive to lively parties.”
• Even if you have a big dining table, serve family-style, don’t assign seating, and don’t use tablecloths or place cards. Keep it relaxed, simple, and approachable.
Left: Julia’s relaxed enough to let her 2-year-old daughter Red help out in the kitchen in simple ways.