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Six Steps to a Perfect Cooking Party – Girls’ Night In

The best thing about a perfect cooking party is that it connects people, especially girlfriends. Drinks, chopping, chatting, savoring the food and each other’s company, laughing and sharing stories—it’s precious. Instead of going to a bar, how about settling in for a cooking party at home? Just one rule of thumb: three guests tops. Gossip likes intimacy.

Here’s the plan:

1. Get the drinks and the snacks ready. These are the first to go while you are still cooking. And if you are making risotto or any other wine-intensive recipe, make sure to set some aside just in case the girls get carried away.

2. Prepare aprons and cutting boards for everyone. I keep at least four clean aprons in a drawer (my favorite says “you kill it we grill it”); it’s like wearing a bunny ears—it makes you feel sexy and in character.

3. Are you cooking a known staple like the stew that got all of you through college, or have you been watching too much Food Network and feel ultra ambitious now? Decide on the dishes and pull the recipes. A great reason to call your mom. Check out the pairings collection at the Bon Appetit cooking club.

4. Let your guests bring ingredients only if they really want to and/or volunteer. I tend to buy all the necessary ingredients and let the guests bring wine and dessert. A lesson learned after answering fifteen text messages from someone trying to pick out peanut oil.

5. Print out the recipes and place them where everyone can see them. It helps your guests keep track of what’s going on and saves your cookbooks that probably can’t take any more chocolate. Divide up the tasks and start chopping!

6. Prepare plastic containers so that that your girlfriends can take the leftovers home. A big pot of minestrone can go a long way (and maybe even make some husbands happy)!