Family dinners can be a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones, share memories and enjoy some good food. On the flip side, they can also induce anxiety, especially in the host.
Think of that overly critical in-law, overly picky sibling and his restless kids, the uncle who arrives drunk, stays drunk and leaves drunk, and that nosy aunt with "are you still single?", "when are you getting a real job?" and "still not pregnant?" questions.
Having all these people under one roof can strike fear in even the most confident host.
And before you think of acting on that "I'm working this Easter" lie that you've been entertaining to avoid hosting, "Come Dine With Me South Africa" has some handy tips and inspiration to take your next family get-together to a new level for both the host and the guests:
1. Adopt a 'game face'
Master the skill of smiling and nodding (practise this in the mirror before guests arrive). Practising politeness can help you defuse potentially tricky situations.
You already know the key players and their potential triggers, so steer clear of conversation that is bound to set someone off. Finances, politics and religion are definite red-flag topics, so navigate around them carefully. Researching some safer subjects, so you can deliver these stories with style when a diversion is needed the most, can be useful.
3. Stick to tried and tested dishes
From flopped fondants to "eggy" soufflés, trying out new dishes on your guests can be disastrous and extremely stressful. So stick to your most delicious, tried-and-tested dishes. Remember that you'll be cooking for a larger group than usual. If you are keen on a new dish, have a practice run at home before the big dinner.
Also, keep the salt, pepper and spices to a flavourful level, but without overdoing it — rather allow your guests to add their own to suit their taste.
4. Choose your main meal wisely
You know that dish that all your friends have raved about? Maybe that's the one. Consider hearty meals that can be enjoyed by many of your guests and meals that go the distance — who doesn't like Easter lunch leftovers? Stews and curry dishes, for example, go a long way towards filling bellies with hearty, memory-making nourishment.
5. Family-friendly party games
For restless kids, an Easter egg hunt could do the trick. You could also take inspiration from popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and start a fun round of Heads Up. Guests hold up a card to their forehead with a character, accessory, animal or thing written on it, and have to guess what's on the card based on clues from the surrounding players.
And who doesn't enjoy some music? Pump it up and let your people show off their dancing skills — just keep your neighbours in mind, too.
Remember, you want people who come to your home to have as warm an experience as possible. So don't overthink it or live in panic mode until that Easter dinner. Prepare as best you can and leave the rest to the universe.