Once early on in our relationship, we had a few friends over to dinner. It was truly a disaster for mouse. First, she discovered at the last minute a few key ingredients were missing from the pantry. We'd planned on eating at a certain time, but due to a cooking snafu dinner was delayed by hours!
As mouse recalls she was roasting a chicken, the recipe clearly stated how long it should take to cook -- not sure if the oven or the recipe was off, but according to the thermometer it wasn't half done at the appointed time! We ran out of wine and mouse was running around to find snacks so that our guests didn't waste away. When the chicken was finally done, it was incredibly dry -- and much too small for our guests!
Friends, thankfully were quite forgiving. Important dinner guests, clients or bosses do not need to be -- they don't have a huge vested interest in you and with clients well, it's very precarious. Business deals can be won or lost over a meal -- even shoddy service in a restaurant can effect it.
The problem was in part because mouse had little experience cooking for groups. That chicken in the store looked huge (compared to the others). Now mouse knows if she were to attempt it, she would roast at least two chickens (depending on the number of guests and allow plenty of time -- remember poultry can stay out one hour or a bit longer before carving.
Another time, fewer guests and a larger chicken (yea mouse seemed determined to get the chicken right) mouse pulled it out the fridge after the recipe and several websites assured mouse it would only take 24-30 hours to defrost, and found it was frozen solid! Solid!
We had chicken twice that week. The first, served to again friends was dry -- after purchasing a replacement chicken. But the one cooked later in week was perfect!
That's the other point, only make things for special occasions that you're completely certain and confident about. If you want to try something new, try it at least three or four times before subjecting unsuspecting important guests to it. If its something you've made infrequently, try it out a week or two before the big day. Just to work out the kinks and that includes side dishes, dessert or appetizers. Even if you're trying a new cocktail -- make a batch and see how it tastes. Sometimes also, it's important to remember quantities differ when making one drink and say a pitcher. Sometimes you find you want to hold back a little of the alcohol or add a shot or two more...