Ina Garten's Favorite Time Of The Week To Entertain Guests

Entertaining guests doesn't always feel like a relaxed, stress-free affair, but for celebrity chef Ina Garten, there's one time of the week that can lend itself to a more easy-going approach: Sundays. For Garten, Sunday afternoons offer the ideal combination of ambiance and time, a space in which calendars are cleared and responsibilities are put on hold.

"Everybody's done all their chores, they're relaxed, nobody's falling asleep or looking at their watch, saying, 'Can I go home and go to bed?'" she explains to Epicurious. Because of this je ne sais quoi atmosphere, Garten insists any food served on Sunday afternoons can be equally breezy. For Garten, Sundays offer the ideal platform to serve relaxed, simple dishes like bruschetta crowned with your favorite toppings or a family-style salad that everyone can reach for to help themselves. And while comfort foods like a pot of stew or an uncomplicated recipe for mussels are easy to make for a group of diners, Garten also stresses the importance of beverages while you're planning your weekend menus. "You just need a good glass of wine and something absolutely delicious," she explains.

Keeping Sundays simple

Ina Garten makes sure to follow certain rules when entertaining guests to make the process easy. She told Williams-Sonoma that she crafts a "game plan, working backward from the time that I want to serve dinner." Part of executing that plan is cooking ahead of time so she can relax after people arrive. She even likes to have a bar set up beforehand.

You can apply a similar kind of approach to gatherings. Make dishes in advance to set out for guests and consider the drinks that will best complement your planned menu. If you want to serve up cocktails, consider batch-prepping mixes and let guests pour their own drinks as you sit down and savor those final weekend moments before the start of another week. Sangrias, peach Bellinis, and fruit spritz cocktails can be set up in a self-service station with pre-cut garnishes and pieces of fruit so friends and family can put together their own drinks at their own leisure. To showcase a bit of hostessing pizazz, assemble fruit fans in advance for guests to garnish their glasses.

Simply remember Garten's advice as you go about your work in the kitchen to prepare food for Sunday. By keeping both food choices and drink offerings straightforward and low-maintenance, you can focus on enjoying the moment — even as the host — and guests can stay relaxed as the afternoon carries into the evening.