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lucy waverman

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As we slowly open our country to more social activities, we need to consider what is safe for home entertaining.

Food itself is not the issue – coronavirus has not proven to be transmitted via food – but there’s concern about how to make entertaining safe for a group of people. My preference is to have up to 10 people for a cocktail party in the garden and hope it does not rain.

People’s risk tolerance differs, but common sense is the best approach. The most important rules are to eliminate common touch points and to make the food simple. Now is not the time to be fussy about all of your beautiful serving pieces, either; practicality is key.

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The cheese tray, for example, has to be reconfigured. Cheese should not be served in blocks with a cheese knife, as it requires too much handling for safety. It should be cut into individual portions with guests using their own forks to spear a piece and put it on their plate – and their fork should only be used for the transfer; use your fingers to eat. Toothpicks are invaluable for spearing cheese if they are then discarded. A less stringent method is to make individual cheese plates for each guest and include crackers on it.

For my parties, I like to use individual containers for service. Flavoured popcorn in paper cups is always a winner. Vary the flavours – chili flakes and lime zest is tangy; rosemary, Parmesan, black pepper, and butter is a family favourite; or try a popcorn trail mix with almonds, raisins, cranberries, and seeds of your choice.

I find cold soups served in shooter glasses are a sure-fire hit. Cold soups made from vegetables already in the fridge are easy. Cover with chicken or vegetable stock and simmer until tender, then blitz in a blender with some fresh herbs or spices. Sometimes I use leftover vegetables and lettuce for an easy, no-cook soup. Not creamy enough? Stir in some yogurt or whipping cream.

Food on skewers is easy to make and serve. Make fruit kabobs or combine cheese, olives and roasted red peppers. Take breadsticks and wrap prosciutto, ham or brisket lightly painted with BBQ sauce around them.

Make cups out of wonton skins. Lay them in a pile, cut off each of the four corners and discard the corners. Brush mini muffin tins with oil or cooking spray. Tuck the wonton skin into the tins. Brush the inside with oil or butter. Bake at 350 F for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. These have so many uses. Fill with dips, veggies, tiny salads. Try composed fillings such as ricotta mixed with pepperoncini, chopped sugar snap peas, mint and chives. Or, use ricotta instead of Parmesan in your favourite pesto recipe and fill the cups. Garnish with the nut used for making the pesto.

You can stay safe and eat well.

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