Ina Garten makes entertaining look easy. She’s hosted dozens of dinner parties and holiday meals in her lifetime, many of which have been documented on Barefoot Contessa. Despite her decades of cooking experience, even the 72-year-old admits she stresses out before guests arrive.
Ina Garten does everything she can to make entertaining stress-free
The Food Network star is all about making entertaining fun. As the title of her cooking show suggests, Garten’s about laidback food and informal parties.
To make hosting less stressful, the celebrity chef preps food in advance — Garten has an entire cookbook dedicated to make-ahead dishes — and keeps recipes relatively simple. She’s also a proponent of buying store-bought. The catchphrase she often says on her cooking show is “store-bought is fine.” And that applies to hosting dinner parties.
“My mantra is always Your friends don’t have more fun if you spend a day making lemon meringue tarts, when you can buy delicious ones from a good bakery,” she told Kitchn during a Q and A session in 2018. “Just choose special things. Spend time looking for things in your hometown that you can just buy and serve as is.”
Even the ‘Barefoot Contessa’ host gets stressed before dinner parties
In a separate interview with Kitchn, this time in 2015, Garten admitted she’s not immune to pre-party stress. After years of hosting dinner parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and weekend brunches, she says she gets stressed in the last few minutes before her guests are set to arrive.
“Everyone always says, ‘You look so relaxed!’” Garten said. “But they don’t see me in the last 15 minutes, when I say to Jeffrey: ‘Don’t talk to me!’”
She continued, saying she forgets about the stress the moment her guests walk through the door because “whenever they feel that you are stressed the fun stops.”
In fact, being a stress-free host is what impresses Garten most when she’s attending a dinner party instead of throwing one.
“The most important thing at a dinner party is that the host is having fun,” Garten once told Food and Wine. “If they are wise enough to make a meal that can do without having a meltdown, I think that’s really impressive.”
Ina Garten’s warns against making something new for a dinner party
Sharing some of her entertaining tips with Food Network, Garten said dinner parties shouldn’t mean new recipes.
“Make something you feel really comfortable making,” she said. “You’re better off making something that you know you can nail without too much stress than finding some recipe in a cookbook that you’ve never used before.”
Follow Garten’s advice and there very well could be a “How easy is that?” moment.