8 sneaky hacks for stress-free parties (your secret's safe with us)

These breezy strategies will make you look like an effortless host with little effort required.

By Carolyn Tate

Have you ever watched those easy-breezy party hosts and quietly wondered how on earth they keep their cool when there are a thousand things to organise and take care of? Do they know something the rest of us don’t? What’s their secret?

Look, it’s probably true that some are born hosts – people who actually enjoy every aspect of party planning, who delight in decorating their home just so, and planning a 12-course degustation menu that would have the rest of us curled up in the foetal position. But us mere mortals can still attain those lofty heights of being a relaxed and fun host with one simple trick.

We cheat.

These tips are all shortcuts designed to make your life easier, while never letting your guests know the secret to your relaxed success. While there are costs that come with some, others are completely free: see here for more tips on entertaining on a budget.

Let’s dive into these sneaky strategies that make you look like an effortless host:

1. Pre-made grazing platters

Order pre-made grazing platters from a local deli or caterer. They look homemade and offer a variety of cheeses, meats and fruits with zero effort on your part. Or, buy high-quality, oven-ready gourmet pizzas. Slide them into the oven before guests arrive, and serve them hot and fresh. They’ll never know they weren’t homemade.

Exhibit A: these pizzas from Coles look rustic and homemade, and only cost $12 each.

Exhibit B: order a grazing platter from Woolies and if you want to be extra sneaky, reassemble it onto one of your own platters; it will take a few minutes tops.

2. Discreet cleaning crew

Does the thought of all the party clean up stress you out? Hire a cleaning service for a quick before-party spruce-up or after-party deep clean. You can find someone on job platforms like AirTasker and schedule them well ahead of your guests’ arrival for a magically spotless home.

3. Cocktail kits in a box

Order cocktail kits from a local bar or bottle shop. These kits come with all the ingredients needed to mix fancy drinks, making you look like a cocktail connoisseur with minimal effort.

The It Kit has a range of cocktail ingredients kits to choose from, or skip all the prep and simply order pretty pre-mixed bevvies from somewhere like Billsons. While you’re at it, order all of your wine online so you can skip the bottle shop queue.

4. Secret sous-chef helpers

Use your slow cooker for warm dishes like stews, curries or dips. You can prepare these hours ahead, and the slow cooker keeps them at the perfect temperature without anyone needing to know you haven’t been standing at your stove stirring the pot all day long. Try these slow cooker recipes from Australia’s Best Recipes.

For desserts, stock up on high-quality frozen desserts. Thaw them before serving, and present them on elegant serving dishes. Enhance with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or fresh berries for a homemade touch.

5. Automated music mixer

Use a music app with pre-made playlists that fit the mood of your party. Apps like Spotify or Apple Music have playlists for every occasion, ensuring a seamless musical backdrop without you needing to manage the tunes or plan ahead. Spotify also has a 'radio' function, where you select your favourite artist or song and it will play similar music until you tell it to stop.

6. Quick decor with fairy lights

Achieve a magical ambiance by stringing up fairy lights in your entertaining area. They’re easy to set up and create instant atmosphere. Plus, they’re great for both indoor and outdoor settings.

You can pick up inexpensive fairy lights year-round from Kmart or Bunnings. They’re operated through either electric, battery or solar, so check the pack to make sure you get what you’re after. Feel free to buy solar lights to use indoors too – just charge them in advance or put the solar panel out a window where it can catch some sun.

7. Rent a party

You don’t need to have everything you need to host the party you want – just hire any party essentials like tableware, linens, glasses, even furniture. It’s much cheaper than buying items you’ll never need again, and you can also add a touch of elegance by choosing something that’s just right for your occasion.

Search for party hire services in your area to find one that suits your needs.

8. Pre-batch your beverages

Here’s a helpful hack that will free you up to enjoy your party. Instead of spending all your time in the kitchen pouring drinks, make your party more enjoyable by pre-mixing one or two signature drinks (perhaps one cocktail and one mocktail). Put them in a drinks dispenser or punchbowl beside a stack of glasses so guests can help themselves.

You could also pre-fill eskies with cans or bottles – just don’t forget to leave a large container next to it so guests can easily add their empties. It will make clean-up at the end of the night much easier.

With these clever hacks, you’ll throw a party that looks effortlessly elegant and remains stress-free. Your guests will be none the wiser to your behind-the-scenes shortcuts, leaving you to enjoy your guests and your party.

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