In the era of social media, online dating and Netflix and chill there are few pleasures as tactile and satisfying as entertaining.
Whether it’s a couple of friends and a bottle of wine or a couple dozen and a homemade antipasto bar, there is a world of face-to-face fun out there just waiting to get hacked.
And, while the Her Hacks team is confined to the word mines for the general safety of everyone, don’t let that stop you from applying these hacks to some at-home entertaining.
Cheese might not be the source of all things great, but it’s the source of many.
And it can be the perfect complement to just about anything else you serve. Wine? Great pairing. Sandwiches? Great side. Beer? Eighty-two million Germans can’t be wrong.
Mais comment pirater le fromage? (Translated from French: “But how to hack the fromage?”)
Let’s start with preparation.
Whether you’re making cheese crisps (tinyurl.com/y6ylduzo), mozzarella bruschetta (tinyurl.com/wceyhcm) or a cheese ball (tinyurl.com/uoww888), shredding is the way to go.
Courtesy of The Tasting Table (tinyurl.com/se4mlqr), here are two easy ways to make shredding no hassle at all. First, spray a little cooking spray on your shredder before you begin the deed. It’ll take far less elbow grease (which isn’t as umami-rich as you might think).
But how to contain all those shredded bits of goodness? Simple: Use some parchment paper to both catch and funnel your käse into whatever waiting formaggio receptacle you have ready.
But what about grating soft cheeses, you ask? Easy. Taste.com (tinyurl.com/wzhbjxd) recommends giving it a quick chill in the ice box before taking it to the grater or slicer. It’ll add just the right amount of rigidity to that brânză so you’re not left with over-squeezed cheese chunks.
There are drinks, and then there are party drinks. Having the right kind can turn your soirée from basic to beatific.
Let’s start with the obvious — not everyone can or likes to partake of alcoholic beverages. Some people don’t like the taste, some don’t like the consequences and some just prefer other stuff.
The beauty of it also is that it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Put out a pitcher of infused water (tailoring the flavors to the season), or better yet, a large spouted jug. The people who prefer their drinks chemically inoffensive will be appreciative and those who do drink a bit o’ the creature will have a way to stay hydrated.
Better yet, take a dive into the world of non-alcoholic cocktails. These three URLs will get you started —tinyurl.com/y84k92e8, tinyurl.com/woshvaw and tinyurl.com/y4rd59zd — and have you dreaming of spiced sangria punch on the porch in no time.
And, while we’re stuck in the doldrums of winter right now, that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of a little warmth and a lot of lemonade.
This BuzzFeed article (tinyurl.com/ye4hxcn7) has a lot of great hacks for your food and drink needs — grilled frozen French fries with cheese and bacon, please — but the one we’re going to focus on involves the humble lemon.
It might sound counter to how a refreshing glass of lemonade is made, but the advice to roast your lemons in the oven prior to squeezing is straight up brilliance. It’ll take your lemonade game to the next level, and — if you follow this recipe: tinyurl.com/yfbwbnpo — throwing in a little simple syrup as your sweetener will take you right to the level cap.
Finger food hacks
Finger food, which for the record definitely can be cheese, is one of those elements for a good party that too many people lose too much sweat over.
Luckily, finger food can be as easy or as complex as your skill and time allows.
For instance, take a look at Paper & Stitch’s list of DIY entertaining hacks at tinyurl.com/t9tg3vp. No. 4 mixes finger food with party favors by creating edible nameplates out of pie crust for guests.
The article also recommends the oh-so-delicious Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini with Honey, a recipe for which you can find here: tinyurl.com/vcsjf7u.
One of the things that truly makes finger foods great is the presence of dip. It’s the gift that keeps on giving in that it makes just about any dippable food that much better. One intriguing recipe, courtesy of LifeHacker (tinyurl.com/y6krxmjj), is Green Garlic Sauce. If that sounds intriguing, just wait til you get to the part about its relation to Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.
Party game hacks
Games aren’t necessary for every party you throw, but with the right crowd and the right mood, they can be the killer app of entertaining.
There’s such a wide variety of games on shelf these days, it can be hard to pick just one.
Here are a few recommendations from the Her Hacks team to get you started.
Werewolf: This is a pretty popular game that’s both easy on the wallet and easy to play. So easy, in fact, people have been known to just use a deck of playing cards they have sitting around. Check it out at www.playwerewolf.co.
Joking Hazard: If you’re at all familiar with long-running web comic “Cyanide and Happiness,” you know the kind of dark humor you’ll find in the comic’s official game, Joking Hazard. It’s go the simple setup and play rules of Cards Against Humanity, but with fun illustrations, too. Check it out at www.jokinghazardgame.com.
Cash ‘n Guns: Where most games might opt to plunk players down in the midst of a movie-style heist caper, Cash ‘n Guns goes the Tarantino route. Instead, players take on the roles of criminals post-bank robbery and do their best to claim as much ill-gotten loot as possible without getting shot. Check it out at tinyurl.com/yenwc63j.
Dixit: For something a little more relaxed, consider Dixit, a game where art inspires stories and the winner is the most creative. Check it out at tinyurl.com/yfs796hr.
Telestrations: Speaking of art, Telestrations is a game that mixes the classic kids game Telephone with Pictionary to create a unique, hilarious experience. Check it out at tinyurl.com/yzh4b4wn.
Reverse Charades: Charades is a party classic in its own right, but Reverse Charades provides a fascinating twist on the formula. Instead of one person acting out a word or phrase and attempting to get someone in the group to guess what it is, one person holds a deck of cards up so he or she cannot see it and the group tries to get that person to guess via interpretive silliness. Check it out at tinyurl.com/qwlwjhr.