Whenever I talk to people about 'entertaining', they generally mention how stressful it is to be a host, having to make sure everyone's happy and everything runs smoothly and all that. Generally I say to be chill, and know that not everything's going to go according to plan and know that it's gonna be a good time no matter what cause your friends are there and they're good people.
Taking your own advice is sometimes impossible though, and after the 6th person cancelled at the last minute on this dinner I started to freak out - Will anyone have a good time? Why do my friends hate me? What the fuck am I gonna do with the three kilos of chicken I just bought? - etc. Lucky my housemate/ best bud James was around though to tell me I was being insane, that there were still like 15 people coming, and to remind me that we own a freezer.
I wouldn't usually have dinners this close together (the last one was about a month and a half ago), because as much as I love it it's still a bit of stre$$$$$. And I think I put a lot of pressure on myself for this one because my beautiful friend Sian was visiting from Melbourne and might be moving to Canada soon, and I really wanted her to have a good time and everything to go smoothly - and mostly it did. I planned a lot better than the last dinner, cooking the rice and the dessert the day before, and stopping myself from being too ambitious with the stuffed veges (recipe here), making only two different kinds instead of the original five.
Usually I don't let people help wash up or anything because I don't want them to feel like they've gotta do chores, but this time everyone really pitched in and wouldn't take no for an answer, which helped me stop stressing a lot too. And made me rethink my 'gotta do everything myself and not let anyone help' attitude towards cooking/life.
I think the most surprising success was the breads with tomatoes, olives and yoghurt sauce (recipe here) - I was just kind of wildly cutting stuff up and frying bread and then it all came together into something really tasty.
The least surprising things was that I bought way, way too much chicken (I rarely cook with meat and really have no idea how much a person eats) and also that the sponge in the trifle was way too dense and heavy (I was expecting the CWA to bust in any moment and butcher and bake me into a perfect shepherd's pie), but neither of these things are worth losing your shit over, so I remained chill. Very good advice from me.