I know, I know, hosting a dinner party is daunting enough and now you're being told that the new standard includes three desserts? Yes. I didn't come up with this seemingly insane idea myself though — for that you can blame the infamous Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. In her cookbook "Cooking for Jeffrey," she has a whole section about surprising your guests. 

pizza, wine, tea, beer, coffee
Reed Erickson

Basically the idea is to shock your guests by doing the unexpected and so you can have the "wow factor." I'm young and dumb so naturally I decided to try this for New Years Eve with only two days to mentally prepare myself. Armed with my recipes and a whole lot of hope, and Ina's ever-assuring catchphrase "how easy was that?" I preheated my oven.

Dessert One: Cake

goody, pastry, candy, cream, sweet, chocolate, cake
Reed Erickson

I found a loophole and took full advantage of it: boxed cake mix. I wasn't trying to prove to anyone that I know how to make a chocolate cake, so with my "extra" time, I whipped up a fresh raspberry buttercream filling and finished it off with a chocolate mirror glaze. When in doubt, cover your cake in fresh berries and flowers — my guests went crazy.

Dessert Two: Champagne Macaroons

meringue, cream, pastry, cookie, candy, chocolate, cake, sweet
Reed Erickson

I wanted to continue to cut myself a break and stick to what I know, and for me, that's macaroons. I took my regular recipe and added some champagne extract because, after all, these were for New Years. I filled these with a champagne reduction infused Italian meringue buttercream and dessert number two was in the books.

Third "Dessert": Jell-O Shots

raspberry, pastry, chocolate, strawberry, cream, cake, berry, sweet
Reed Erickson

I wanted my three desserts to be very unique from each other so I strayed away from baking anything else — plus, it was New Years! I didn't know if the Jell-O counted as a dessert, so I took a page out of Ina's book and put out some macerated berries, because "how bad could that be?"

I Made It Out Alive (and Am Better for It) 

cream, blueberry, strawberry, chocolate, cake, berry, blackberry, raspberry
Reed Erickson

Dare I say it, but — how easy was that? Truly! Sure, I took some shortcuts along the way but hey, I made three desserts for a dinner party! Will I do this again? Probably! Namely because of the reaction my friends had — the wow factor was definitely there.

My advice to anyone who is interested in trying this, is stick to what you know. Cooking and entertaining is all about having fun, not stressing out. If you plan ahead and stay calm, it really can be just that easy. If I have anything negative to say about this experience, it is that my friends now expect a minimum of three desserts every time they come over — c'est la vie!