In my experience and observation of attending and hosting events, I’ve learned a few dos and don’ts for hosts and guests that I’ll share. In other words, I’m sharing all my headaches so you don’t have to experience them! Be a spectacular host or guest by practicing ideal party etiquette. These are general guidelines, so they can and must be adjusted with different celebrations – from a large, formal wedding to an small, intimate baby shower. First up, let’s talk about how to be the hostess with the mostess.
Hosts – your goal of the celebration is to make sure the party goes smoothly and guests enjoy themselves.
Before the event: This is when planning matters MOST. When you get this step right, the rest will be a breeze!
Give clear details to guests.
In your invitation or conversations, make sure your guests know essential details such as what to wear, what the event is for, what they should bring, what will happen at the event and if they have a plus one. This helps set the expectations, prevent any last-minute questions, and prevent any awkwardness when guests arrive.
Prepare the menu at least a week in advance.
This will give you time to review how much time it will take to prepare the dishes and to buy your groceries one or two days ahead of the party. Extra time for groceries will give you time to run back to the store for forgotten ingredients or re-think your menu. Dishes that can be prepared, frozen and heated up before the party are easiest. If you want less stress, limit yourself to two homemade dishes and outsource the rest. Pick recipes you are familiar with or are not that challenging. Be sure to note how much time is needed to defrost and heat up! Consider the next point in preparing your menu.
Give yourself more time than you think you need to prepare.
Check and double check the schedule and timing of cooking your dishes, defrosting, arrival of rentals, and getting yourself presentable. Believe me, you don’t want to be running around frazzled trying to finish up when your guests start to arrive. Don’t forget to factor in cleaning up your kitchen after preparing dishes. After deciding your timeline, add 30 extra minutes for safety! Have a comfortable outfit picked out in advance.
Prepare as much as possible days in advance.
Prepare and freeze dishes. Don’t leave the bulk of cleaning for the day of the event. Craft decorations during the week and start decorating the day before. Think about the timing of the meal if you’re serving multiple courses.
Ready glasses and drink pitchers.
Instead of having to make every drink, make a large batch of the drink and set them out in pitchers or a punch bowl. In addition, have bottles of wine (one bottle of wine is roughly five servings), a selection of beers and some non-alcoholic drinks (water and sparkling juice are great) available. Put out glasses on the counter so guests don’t feel awkward searching through your kitchen.
Walk through your house/venue and do a once-over.
Start at your door and walk through your place, looking for things out of place and things you forgot to do. Is everything clean and welcoming? Don’t forget to check your bathroom.
Prepare the ambiance.
Light candles to freshen up your place but be cautious of how the smells might mix with cooking food. If the food is the main attraction, consider unscented candles. Create a playlist to match the mood. How do your decorations look?
Appoint a right-hand person.
Depending on the size of the party, things could get a little hectic as the party starts. Your right-hand helper can help you prepare before the party and assist with all the little things that come up during the party, such as refilling chip bowls or drink pitchers.
During the event: Relax and go with the flow!
Help guests feel welcome
As they enter, show them where to put their jackets or purses and get them a drink. Introduce guests to each other. Encourage guests to dig into food.
Don’t let little snags derail you. How you act and react will drive the mood of the party. Spills, running out of food, late comers, etc. – they may happen but there’s always a solution. There’s no need to fret and worry yourself. Your right-hand person could be helpful at keeping you calm.
After the event: Celebrate a great event and de-brief!
I’ve found it more relaxing to get the cleaning done right away.
Thank your guests.
Send thank you notes or emails.
What stress-free tips would you recommend for party hosts?