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I talked a little bit last week about how to be a good guest and this week I'm turning the tables and talking about how to be a good host.
I've written before about entertaining and I will admit that the one thing I have learned over the years that have made my events a success was to just chill out. If I'm hosting a dinner party I may cook dinner, but buy appetizers from Trader Joes. Sometimes I ask people to bring things so I don't have to cook. My goal is for people to feel like my house is their house. Here are a few things I do to make that possible.
- Don't worry if your house isn't perfect. I think people wait until their house is 'done' to invite people over but really as long as you have a couple of chairs (and I often rely on folding chairs I have tucked in a closet) and some alcohol people aren't going to care that your house isn't done. In fact they probably won't even notice. If your attitude is warm and welcoming then that is all that matters.
- Don't try to make it pinterest/instagram worthy. Sometimes I will buy some flowers from Trader Joes but most often I just scatter some tea candles, set the table and call it a day. If you are so stressed from making it look pretty then you kind of aren't fun to hang out with!
- Communicate. Let people know in advance if you are a shoes off home. I don't mind shoes, but I admit that if it is rainy or snowy out then you can bet I'll be asking people to take off their shoes. Give clear directions. Especially since I live in the city I let people know what public transportation is nearby and that street parking is available. I even let people know where to look for parking if there isn't something right in front of my house. If your neighborhood requires a parking pass then make sure you let people know they can get one from you. Make it clear how to reach you. Tell them exactly what is on your buzzer and give your phone number.
- Let people know what they can bring. In my how to be a good guest post I mention that you should bring something. It makes it so much easier when the host/ess says 'hey all I'll have food but please bring something to drink'. If you are hosting a formal event, then this would be a faux pas but if you are having a cocktail party, informal dinner or some people to hang out then let them know what they can bring.
- Make it easy for people to find the basics. I usually set up a drink zone in the kitchen. I'll have a pitcher of water with some glasses, wine glasses and a cork screw and if we are having cocktails an ice bucket and tumblers.
- I'm generally hosting people I know, but if you are having guests who may be strangers to each other try to introduce them with a tidbit of who they are and what they may have in common with another person so that can help start a conversation.
- Have fun. Once everyone has been fed I tend to turn off hostess mode. Drinks are readily available and by then most people's needs are pretty low key.
Any other suggestions to make a party a success?