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Achieving pro party host status isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes years of trial and error in the form of burnt casseroles, bad playlists, and running out of booze before you can consider yourself an old salt in the entertaining department. But even though most people aren’t born a natural Martha (Stewart, that is), it doesn’t mean everyone can’t become one.
Here are some of our best tips and tricks for advancing your status from amateur to pro the next time you host
Never Make Your Guests Ask for Anything
One basic philosophy to adopt as the host or hostess of any event is this: Never make your guests ask for anything. Consider yourself the giver of all things for the four or five hours your home is transformed into party headquarters, and try to anticipate a party-goer’s every need before they even have to ask. For example:
- Always have readily available water, especially if there’s a lot of alcohol flowing and snacks being consumed. Keep a stock of bottled water on hand or go the eco-friendly route by filling a beverage dispenser with infused water.
- Put salt, pepper, and condiments on the table if you’re serving dinner. Guests feel rude asking for this stuff because it may insinuate that they aren’t pleased with their meal, even if that isn’t the case at all. Always have them available if needed.
- Keep blankets and throw pillows around, especially if you’re hosting during the chillier months. A cute throw blanket adds a layer of warmth and style to your home while also keeping guests comfy without them having to ask.
- If serving outside, offer sunscreen and bug spray. Few things are better than enjoying a balmy evening outside with friends, but you want to make sure the environment is comfortable for everyone.
- If dinner’s not ready, keep the apps flowing. If you’re hosting a dinner, guests will show up hungry. You don’t necessarily have to have dinner ready on the table the minute they arrive, but never let their bellies grumble and always have lots of snacks and munchies flowing until dinner is served.
Roll Out the Red Carpet (Or Make It Look Like You Did)
“Décor sets the stage for any party, and it also gives a great indication to your guests as to how much effort you’ve put into hosting them within your home.” – Rachel Hollis
If you’re a minimalist or like to keep things simple, décor is often the first thing to go. Why obsess over decorating when there are drinks, food, and playlists to worry about? In fact, decorating is just as important as the food and drink, in our opinion, and here’s why: It indicates to your guests that you spent time preparing for them, creating a special and memorable ambiance that’s wholly welcoming. While you don’t actually have to go all out, there are some small things you can do to make it seem like you did.
- Choose positive, uplifting décor. For example, hang a wall tapestry with an encouraging phrase to indicate to your guests that your space is an open, creative environment where everyone is welcome.
- Light candles or burn aromatic oils. Seriously, this is one of the easiest ways ever to transform a cold, vacant space into one that’s warm and fuzzy enough for entertaining. Choose cute candles with warm, cozy scents.
- Set the table if you’re serving dinner. We’re not saying formal is better, but taking the extra step of setting the table shows effort so your guests feel like you went the extra mile. You could even use place cards as an extra touch.
- Create a gorgeous tablescape. We’re talkin’ a real flower centerpiece from the florist (or the grocery store if you’re on a budget). Pro tip: Using disposable? Upgrade to the nicer stuff, like paper linen tablecloths that can be steamed or ironed, for the perfect mix of style and convenience.
When in Doubt, Overstock
When hosting, you can’t worry too much about cutting corners. While having a budget is important and often necessary, don’t let an unrealistic budget (or too long a guest list) leave you in an uncomfortable situation where you don’t have enough food or booze for your attendees.
Here are some great tips to ensure that you never run out.
- Have a backup plan. Always make extra food and keep last-minute items on hand (think: those amazing frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s or a spare box of pasta and sauce) to cover overflow in a pinch. That way, if you have a few unexpected guests, you can improvise fast with what you have around.
- Have a variety of drinks on hand. Variety is the spice of life, they say! It also helps prevent you from running dry when you’re having a party. Be sure to keep the basics around, including liquor, beer, white wine, red wine, soda, and water.
- If they insist, ask guests to bring beverages. As the host, you should be taking care of 75 percent or more of the food and drink, unless the party was clearly labeled a potluck or a BYO (bring your own) get-together. If guests insist on bringing something, ask them to bring a bottle of wine or some beer.
- Double up on plates, flatware, cups, and napkins if you’re going the single-use route. As an advanced host, you should be constantly keeping your eyes peeled for those marked-down paper plates and cocktail napkins so you constantly have a stock ready to go mid-party.
Put Your Soul into It
At the end of the day, a good host tends to be a person who enjoys hosting. That means spending a little extra time, money, and energy to facilitate the invitations, food, drinks, and décor. If you can find joy in the process, it will show, and your guests will want to come back again and again. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Carolyn Eberhart serves as the Digital Marketing Manager for Natural Life. Carolyn oversees all digital marketing efforts relating to Paid Social Media and Email Marketing remotely from Redwood City, CA. During the week she is passionate about her career, cooking, exercising and hanging out with her family and on Sundays, you can find her cheering on the Buffalo Bills!
(Images via Shutterstock)