Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten Shares Her Top Tips for Foolproof Entertaining

Ina Garten is a pro in the kitchen and thrives when she’s entertaining friends. The Barefoot Contessa star has learned some easy tricks over the years that make throwing a dinner party stress-free and a good time for everyone, including the host.

Ina Garten shared her basic entertaining tips

During a 2020 interview with Domino’s Design Time podcast, Garten shared the biggest key to having a great party — you’ve got to be a relaxed host.

“How do you welcome people into your space and make them feel comfortable?,” the interviewer asked. “How do you entertain in a way that feels relaxed. I think you’re so good at putting people at ease.”

Garten offered some easy tips for entertaining with ease. “I think it’s really important… the first thing and the most important thing is that you’re relaxed,” she explained. “If the hostess is anxious and crying and sweating and just going crazy, nobody’s going to have a good time.”

She continued, “So, just take a deep breath. We all know cooking is hard but nobody at your party needs to know that.”

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ walked through her typical dinner party strategy

Once you’ve dialed in the deep breathing and are relaxed, Garten said there are some ways to make guests feel welcome with music, unfussy snacks, and self-service drinks. “When I open the door, I want to have music in the background so the first person who arrives feels like they’ve come to a party — as opposed to, ‘Did I arrive on the wrong day?’” she explained.

“And then what I do is I set up like a bar in the living room on a table so everybody can help themselves,” the Barefoot Contessa star explained. “So, I’m not running around making a drink for everybody. And each person gets to have like a scotch and soda exactly the way they like it.”

Garten takes a page from a trip to Italy when it comes to serving easy snacks. “And then we sit around and I have very simple hors d’oeuvres,” she noted. “I was in Italy a long time ago and, with drinks, they served a little dish of potato chips, pistachios, and olives. That was it. And I thought, ‘This is the chicest thing’ and it’s no cooking at all — it’s so incredibly perfect.”

Garten explained that she keeps the pre-dinner snacking simple, like serving salami and cucumbers or easy store-bought items. “And then I’ll just slip away and get dinner finished,” she said.

The Food Network host said she “almost always” uses the kitchen for entertaining and likes to have her guests seated at a cozy table for six. “And we all sit around, kind of elbow-to-elbow, a little too close, which is really warm,” she explained. “And if I’m doing something to get dinner to the table I’m still part of the party. I’m not in another room.”

Garten has found that this approach really makes for a good time. “So I think everybody feels like family when you do that and one person serves wine and somebody else clears the dishes… and it’s kind of a group thing, rather than a formal service,” she explained. “And I think that makes a really warm party.”

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