HOSTESSING TIPS by PlotaParty
To be the perfect, welcoming host/hostess of a great party, you need to be on top of your planning. So break up your preparations to Things to do before the Party, and Things to do during the Party. These hostessing tips will keep you on top of your preparation and also make sure that you are the hostess with the ‘mostest’.
Things to do before the Party
- Draw up a guest list and send the invitations well in time.
- Write down a schedule for the party, counting back from the time you expect your guests. Once you have a detailed party plan, you don’t need to make one every time. The same one does with little changes. (Subscribe and get a FREE DIY Party Planner!)
- As a hostess, allot enough time for shopping, cooking, decorating, setting the table, arranging flowers, planning music or games, and getting ready. Prepare as much beforehand as possible.
- Get the house ready for the party.
- It’s really rude if your guests have arrived and you the hostess, are still getting dressed or in the kitchen. You must have everything ready at least a half an hour before your guests arrive.
- If you don’t have much time, just keep things simple. If you need help, ask your friends to pitch in.
- Plan some entertainment before hand, and keep it ready in case, for some reason, the party flags. This is especially good if you are inviting a group of people who don’t know each other and may not have a whole lot in common. Party Games are always good ice-breakers; avoid those games which could be embarrassing for your guests.Keep a few gifts handy as prizes.
- Plan your outfit well in advance and check it out the day before. We advise wearing something comfortable and elegant as you will have enough to handle through the evening.
- Plan your menu including the snacks and drinks such that they don’t need for you to be in the kitchen all the time. Try and avoid hot snacks, or make those that can remain warm in the oven and you just have to remove them and serve.
- It is always wise to ask a friend beforehand to help in serving so they are prepared for the role.
- Put the chips and peanuts and such snacks out in suitable places beforehand. If you are entertaining large numbers, keep large platters so you don’t have to refill often.
- Try not to serve anything with shells as they are difficult to handle. If you do serve pistachios or pine nuts or shrimps with their tails, keep a bowl nearby for the shells. Also for the toothpicks from the tray of snacks.
- For the bar, designate an area which has lots of movement space around it as people will come for refills and you don’t want a traffic jam there.
- Ensure that you have plenty of napkins and more than enough glasses and plates etc so there is no shortage of such things as most guests use more than a single glass or fork or spoon.
Things to do during the Party:
- It’s important that you enjoy your own party so if you’re stressed out, your guests will be too.
- Make sure you answer the door or are at hand to greet your guests personally. This is really necessary if you are calling people who don’t know each other.
- If you have invited a disparate group, you should introduce the people to each other.
- It’s always good to say a few words of introduction. It could be an interest or hobby or a recent holiday…anything, to get a conversation going.
- Separate partners and introduce them individually to other groups.
- If there are outsiders to a cohesive group, pay extra attention to them.
- Always be in control. Never display anger or irritation towards anyone. Make no sarcastic or personal jibes or politically incorrect comments about anybody, especially about any of your guests. It can cause acute embarrassment.
- As a host, you can’t get into a slanging match, no matter how provoking a guest may be.
- If you drink, limit your drinking to the minimum so that you are totally in control in case of any emergency: as a host, you are fully responsible for your guests.
- Once the party is on you can expect to be on the move continually and have to be really alert: circulate among the guests and make sure you say a few words to everyone.
- In case a heated discussion or an inappropriate or politically incorrect conversation seems to be getting out of hand, diffuse the situation by changing the subject.
- Watch out for empty glasses and pass the snacks around. That way you make all your guests feel looked after.
- If people leave their empty glasses around, have them removed. Also empty snack bowls should be removed and refilled.
- Make the first drink for your guests and then just urge them to refill their glasses when they are empty.
- Encourage guests to mingle. Keep an alert eye for wall flowers and really shy people. Introduce them to a gregarious group where they will feel comfortable. Or ask close friends if they can look after the shy guests.
- Break up groups talking shop and try and introduce a new element into the conversation.
- A good strategy for keeping your guests on the move is to place the bar and the food far from each other. You don’t want your guests to huddle in one area, you want them to circulate and get the buzz going.
- Don’t allow awkward silences: the longer they are, the worse they get. You have step in to break the silence. Start a conversation on the latest topic or controversy, or start a game or put on some dance music.
- If you have a small group, keep the conversation in which everyone can participate. If any guest tries to monopolise the discussion, your duty as a host is to cut in at an appropriate time and change the topic.
- Sometimes mishaps happen..a guest can break a glass or a favorite decoration. Don’t fuss, just play it down.
- Don’t take too long serving the meal unless it’s one of those all night parties. Very often you will have some guests who want to eat dinner later than the others. In that case don’t hassle. Just leave the food on the table and serve the dessert for those who have already eaten. You don’t have wait for everyone to finish before serving the dessert and coffee.
- Accept compliments gracefully. Don’t be apologetic or criticize the effort you have put in.
- If things seem to go wrong: do not panic! For example, if the lights go off, light candles and diyas. Just deal with the situation calmly and get on with the plan. Everyone understands minor disasters, but does not appreciate a fuss!st deal
- Pick up your plate after all your guests have served themselves. Urge everyone to help themselves but don’t force people into more helpings or serve them regardless of their ‘noes’. Add a personal touch, like ‘this is something especially for you,’ or ‘I know you will definitely enjoy this,’ or ‘I was really thinking of you when I was making this.’
- If you have received presents, put them away. In the west, they encourage you to open these presents, but we, in India prefer keeping them away and thanking our guests for a particularly nice gift later.
A good party requires attention to detail and generosity in all areas. Present everything as beautifully as possible, so get the house cleaned and the decorations out, and brighten up the dining table with great linen, use cloth napkins, proper plates and serving dishes. When your guests feel like they’re privileged to be invited, a good party has already happened. Indulge them, pamper them and they’ll always want to come back for more!