Ina Garten's 11 Entertaining Do's and Don'ts

From years of experience hosting parties and catering events in the days of her specialty food shop Barefoot Contessa, Ina knows the ins and outs of pulling off the perfect evening.

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Entertaining Tips to Live By

No matter whether you're entertaining for the first time or you've been throwing parties for quite some time but need a fresher approach to pull off a simple and lovely evening, Ina's advice is invaluable. After all, she is known as the Barefoot Contessa for a reason.

Do Simplify It

"Keep it really simple. People prefer simple food, and it's easier to make."

Do Get Comfortable

"If the hostess is stressed, everybody’s going to be stressed, so make something you feel really comfortable making."

Do Cook Tried-and-True Recipes

"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."

Like This Recipe: Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken

Don't Make Things People Can't Eat

"The first thing I do is ask everybody what they can't eat or they don't like, and then do a menu based on that."

Do Set the Scene

"Make sure there's great music when people arrive."

Do Make Easy Drinks

"If it’s complicated to make a cocktail, just have bottles of wine for people to help themselves when they arrive."

Don't Make Too Many Dishes

"I usually say make two or three and buy the rest — or assemble the rest."

Like This Recipe: English Oat Crackers

Do Make Good Ingredient Choices

"I tend not to make things with spinach so people don't get spinach in their teeth. Or poppy seeds."

Don't Overdo the Decor

"Keep the table simple."

Do Your Entertaining in a Casual Space

"I tend to entertain in the kitchen rather than in a formal dining room, because I think everybody feels more relaxed."

Do Always Put Friends and Family First

"Make sure that it's really about the friends, not about the food."

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