January 4, 2024
A Guide to Hosting
This past month I hosted Christmas dinner for our family, I also love hosting birthday parties, the odd BBQ in the summer and don’t even get me started on afternoon tea parties.
I consider myself the hostess with the mostest (or at least one strives to be). I think it all stems from the many parties my parents have hosted over the years. My mom truly is the hostess with the mostest and as such she has imprinted a number of do’s, don’ts and other best practices for what makes a good party.
Today I thought I’d jot down a few of them and in turn pass on the wisdom of hosting best practices. Because if you like me like to make a big deal out of every guest and romanticise your life, then this guide to creating a decadent experience for your guests is just for you.
And of course, before we dive into the meaty part of this guide let me say that hosting is a personal experience that varies from person to person, cultural expectations may be different and of course your budget will greatly dictate what you can achieve. This being said, here are some tips.
Whether you’re organising a casual dinner with friends or a magnificent birthday bash it’s always best to send out an invite. It sets the mood for the event, it gives the guests all the information they need and it makes the whole thing a bit more formal. I love using Canva for all my invites. It’s a free tool and super intuitive to use. Include things like date and time, address, dress code if there is one, theme if there is one, any requests for guests (i.e. bring your own booze or RSVP by this date)
This really sets the tone for the event. Do you go for something poppy for a birthday party for example, some soft jazz for an afternoon tea or a wine tasting. The last thing you want is putting your playlist on shuffle or having random people play their favourite tunes. If this is your cup of tea, then go of it, but for the sake of creating a good ambiance, make sure you pre-select music that matches the vibe of your event.
Think about where your guests are going to enter, where they are sitting and also which loo they will be using. Make sure those areas are tidy and free of clutter, looking and smelling great. In the loo, make sure the mirror is cleaned, you have provided a bin, fresh towel and also and a nice candle or diffuser. Hide anything you want hidden (hello box of tampons).
Make sure there is enough seating available so people don’t just hover standing up awkwardly. I find that providing snack bowls in key areas of my living room organically attracts people to gather around those spaces. Another area that people will be going to is your kitchen, whether to grab a glass or a paper towel, that is another one of your space that should anticipate foot traffic.
Ambiance and decorations:
Certain things are non-negotiable. These include:
- An abundance of napkins (spills happen be prepared and make it easy for your guests to clean up themselves)
- Candles - these create a great vibe particularly in the evening. Please note that for a dinner party or wine tasting you should never have scented candles as these would be too distracting. Instead aim for unscented candles ion areas where food is consumed.
- Fresh flowers - another small luxury that just really elevates your space. Even if you just grab a bunch of flowers from M&S or some green shrubbery from the park and put that in a vase, instantly your home looks more put together.
DURING THE EVENT
- Greet everyone warmly and offer to take their coats off. If you have a spare bedroom great, if not, just chuck them on your bed.
- If you’re a shoes off household, make sure to have enough slippers for everyone
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, you have people in your home, things might break, drinks get spilled. Chill and just enjoy
- For people who are only just coming to your home of the first time, make sure you show them around or at least point out where the loo is.
- For family events involving kids, make sure there is a kiddy friendly area with age appropriate snacks and drinks, plenty of toys and art supplies. This will keep the little ones happy, occupied and hopefully quiet while the adults mingle.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people to contribute, bring a bottle or pudding. It’s a reasonable enough request and takes some of the pressure off you.
- Have nibbles at hand - crisps, olives, nuts, fruit, veggie sticks and dip.
If you like me like to go the extra mile here are some fun ways to do that:
- Edible flowers (to toss in salads, on puddings or freeze in ice cubes)
- Edible gold dust - need I say more
- Disposable cameras - a great way to encourage guests to capture cute moments from their point of view
Finally, hosting can be stressful so make sure to take it easy and have fun.