I grew up in a home with an open door policy. Friends dropped by for lunch last minute and we were grand central for large dinner parties. The fridge was flung open for casual meals with guests and it was a “help yourself to leftovers + salad + good toasted bread” situation. But for suppers (or large lunches) my mom and I carefully plan the menu and cooked elaborate feasts. The table was always full from the multitude of dishes we prepared. If my mom knew that you loved blueberry pie or hated cinnamon, she wrote it down in her entertaining book and it would appear/disappear from the meal. My grandfather’s moto “if you go home hungry it’s your own damn fault” rang true. Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up between being my mom’s assistant, and hosting my own plethora of dinners and dinner parties.