Party Hosting Tips

December 10, 2013

Everyone loves a good party, especially around the holidays, but if you're nervous about hosting a holiday party don't be--it's really not all that stressful.  After you've come up with a theme, made your guest list, and planned a menu, remember these key points to ensure a successful and stress-free evening

1-2 Weeks Before
Now is the time to recruit help from friends. Ask good friends in advance if  they can help with setting up or cleaning up. It might be a solo mission if you wait until the day of.

Finalize your menu. Make sure you've included at least one vegetarian food option and some non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers.

Start getting a headcount. If some of your close friends haven't RSVP'd it's totally fine to give them a call to see if they're coming.  

1-2 Days Before
Do all your shopping. You'll likely make a list of items to stock up on, including ice, beer, wine, cups and plates, but don't forget to add toilet tissue, hand soap, and a scented candle for the bathroom to the list.

Get the house cleaned the day before the party, then you'll just have to freshen things up on the day of. Pay special attention to the guest bathroom.

When it comes to food and drinks, do as much prep work as possible the day before and the morning of. Cut limes and garnishes for drinks, chop veggies for salads, assemble get the picture.  

The Day Of
Even if there's still food to be made and guests are due to arrive in thirty minutes, remove yourself from the kitchen and get dressed. If anyone shows up early, they won't be met by a disheveled host who reeks of garlic and has gravy smeared on her shirt. 

Set any cold hors d'oeuvres or cheese plates out early in case you have guests arrive before party time. You should also open up a couple of wine bottles so they can breathe, and get your champagne chilled.  

Here's a genius trick used by event planners: prepare buckets of hot soapy water and keep them in the garage or someplace out of sight. When you're done preparing the food throw all the dirty pots and pans and bakeware in the buckets and forget about them until the next morning. If guests end up hanging out in the kitchen, it won't be overrun with dirty dishes. 

If there are rooms that are off limits, close and lock the doors. If there isn't a lock, you can close the door and string garland or some other decoration across the door frame--guests should get the hint.
At the Party
Keep an eye on the door and try to greet guests within one minute of their arrival. Chat with them for a two or three minutes, even if you were meant to be getting more wine, then point them to the bar or food table. 

If you don't have an extremely large coat closet, make sure you have a designated space for guests to leave their coats, scarves, and handbags, and if you take their coats for them, let guests know where the coat room is so you're not running to retrieve them every time someone exits.

Encourage guests to mingle by placing the bar and food tables at opposite ends of the room; neither the bar nor the food tables should be by the door. Another great way to get guests to mingle is to set out less chairs than there are people. Just make sure there are plenty of tables and trays so guests can set down their glasses and plates to shake hands with new people. 

Relax and have a good time with your guests. Your demeanor sets the tone and if you're stressed, your guests will notice and may become uncomfortable. Things may not go perfectly, but the goal is to have fun, so do that!

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