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10 Dinner Party Shortcuts From the Pros

From using frozen berries for ice cubes to fashioning cake stands from teacups, these 10 entertaining hacks—taken directly from the pros—will add extra creativity to your event without the extra work.

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You want your upcoming event to be the best one ever. And that perfectionism means that you'll put a lot of thought into every aspect of the day: What will I serve? How will I serve it? Do my guests have dietary restrictions? How much time do I need to prepare? Where will I put everyone? I need to go to the grocery store!

Oh, and let's not forget the pressure to be memorable.

But you don't have to let it all get to you. From using frozen berries for ice cubes to fashioning cake stands from teacups, these 10 entertaining hacks—taken directly from the pros—will add extra creativity to your event without the extra work.


Freeze Drinks Ahead of Time

Caterer and event planner Mary Guiliani shared one of her favorite tips with Elle Decor: Instead of mixing up a giant batch of a signature cocktail, combine everything but the alcohol in advance and then freeze individual servings in an extra-large ice cube tray. When it's time to drink, just add the liquor to the pre-made ice cubes.

Make a Cake Stand With Teacups

Planning to serve cupcakes at your next party? Make each guest feel special by serving those treats on mini cake stands—simply turn a teacup upside down and place a saucer on top.

Decant Condiments

To make the table look a little more special with minimal effort, pour condiments into mini bowls, mason jars or even teacups. Add a teaspoon—and your guests are dining in style.

Use Dishtowels as Napkins

One hot trend in entertaining right now is "texture," whether that's burlap tablecloths or ... dishtowels? Instead of using special-occasion cloth napkins or environmentally unfriendly paper napkins, give each guest a (clean!) dishtowel. When the festivities wind down, use them to clean up.

Make the Most of Trays

This tip comes in extra-handy when you're entertaining outdoors: Assemble everything you need for a single course on one large tray, so you minimize time away from your guests.

Scoop Ice Cream Ahead of Time

Instead of wielding a scoop and a pint as your guests look on, pre-portion ice cream into pretty cupcake liners—which you can store in a muffin tin—and pop them in the freezer until it's time for dessert.

Use Orange Halves as Bowls

The advantage to using scooped-out orange or grapefruit halves to serve fruit or ice cream is threefold: It looks great, it's environmentally friendly, and you'll do that many fewer dishes post-party.

Use Mismatched Place Settings

From weddings to birthdays, nothing is more in right now than decorating your table with deliberately mismatched place settings. It's not that you don't have enough matching china for your party of 12—you're actively choosing to mix it up with cool patterns because you're being trendy!

Use Frozen Grapes and Berries to Chill Drinks

It's a cardinal rule of entertaining: You can never have too much ice. For your next soiree, up your ice game by using frozen grapes or berries to chill wine, water or cocktails. Bonus: They won't dilute your drink.

Use Plants as Favors

Although you want to send your guests home with something to remind them of the good time they had chez vous, you don't always have the time (or cash) to order monogrammed flasks. Opt for an environmentally friendly alternative and hand out tiny potted plants, like cacti or herbs.

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-- Learnvest

See More: Dinner , Entertaining