Hosting a party is truly an art form. I’ve witnessed many a host or hostess spend weeks selecting wines, pressing napkins and polishing silver only to be sidelined by a surprise guest, an unexpected request or – horrors – a dull party. Here are a few of the most basic tips for hosting a party:
The guest list:
Be bold and invite a number of guests that represent your varied interests, but be thoughtful with introductions and conversation-starters. No matter how confident an individual, it can feel daunting to walk into someone’s home, wedding reception or business event if he or she does not see a friendly face. Introduce your guests to one another, generate a conversation based on a commonality (“Steve was arrested for public intoxication TOO!”) and move on once you feel your “new” guest is involved.
Oh how Parker Presley despises the on-line invitation (mostly because my paws are simply too big for those teeny tiny keyboards!). But because I am a canine of the times and realize that this is a new way of connecting with your invitees my rule regarding technology is this: use but don’t abuse. I was recently invited to a party and was asked to bring wine, an appetizer and a gift for a holiday exchange. This is not a party my dears – this is what is known in the South as a pot-lock! If you are HOSTING a party, then host by providing the food, the beverage, the fun. If you are simply unlocking your door and turning on the hall light, then you are not hosting. Most people will bring a bottle of wine, so accept (don’t expect) and thank them. Many guests will ask if they can contribute something and in that case, say yes – we’d love a lime Jell-O salad! But to email a group and demand food, drink, gifts or cash under the premise of “hosting” a party is simply a no.
Greet guests at the door, take their coat and purse and tell them where you are placing said items so they can locate them when the time comes. “I am putting coats and bags in the guest bedroom at the end of the hall” is much nicer than, “who draped this disgusting dead chinchilla wrap over my dining room table?”. Pour drinks immediately, this always loosens the crowd and gives them something to do with their hands. If your party is large, set a do-it-yourself station that allows guests to mix their own drinks (this will make the aforementioned Steve one happy guy). Make introductions, keep lights and music at proper levels to allow for comfortable conversation, and give overly shy guests a job to do such as opening wine or slicing bread – sometimes these individuals feel more comfortable when they are part of the so-called crew.
Say Thank You:
When guests are ready to depart, gather their belongings, thank them for coming and walk them to the door. This makes guests feel you appreciate them for spending an evening with you, allows them not to search you out to say their farewells and gives you another opportunity to exude your compliments on their riveting discussion of the Dewey Decimal system or their perfectly formed Jell-O salad.
Being a good hostess is a gift you can give your guests – and yourself. Remember that celebrating friends and family is always in style.