Reader Question: What are your best tips for hosting a party?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

This post is brought to you by Liberty Table Top

A lovely reader of mine sent me an email asking about my best tips for hosting a party. I must say, I still am quite the novice at hosting events and still have some stuff to learn...but for the most part, I do feel comfortable giving tips from learning from my mistakes!

Here are my top five tips:

1 - Twas the night before the party! And all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for you since you were ironing table cloths and preparing fruit salad... Get my silly point? Prepare as much as you can in advance, the night before the big shindig. I'm talking about food, drinks, table settings  etc. With appetizers, cut your veggies and prepare the dip and store them in the fridge. Same goes with fruit salad and a ton of other appetizers. This has saved me loads of time when preparing for a party. With drinks, if you are making a punch, make that the night before as well. Once guests arrive, set it out and offer them a drink!

I set the table the night before for our Holiday party.
 I also set this bar area the night before and added the drinks, ice and lemon and lime wedges, just before guests came
 And same for Jack's birthday party.
Here is an excellent calendar that Jenny Steffins Hobick of Everyday Occasions provided her readers for her Thanksgiving prep:
You can see the "week of" and "day before" columns that she has filled out. This is an excellent way to be organized for the party and not miss a beat. Yesterday I was watching the Barefoot Contessa and she was creating recipes that were great to prepare the day before. She created an Italian Antipasto (SIDE STORY: When I first met Jon, I thought an antipasto meant "anything but pasta"...I now know that is NOT true), fruit salad with limoncello and a baked Shrimp Scampi that you can prepare and assemble everything then bake as your guests arrive. Have the table already set and plates out and washed. It makes for a less stressful party and hostess!

2 - Assign roles! Jon was the designated door answerer, coat collector, and house tour guide. He did ok, just got a bit sidetracked ;-). When guests would come in, he would take care of their things and I would offer drinks and allow them to help themselves to appetizers. I remember my Mom would have the kids collect the coats and place them in a different room. So assign what you can to help you to your family. I normally assign my sister Mary to photograph the event!

Jon was the pizza collector
 And my awesome Mother-in-law Janie was the cake and cupcake decorator!

And the time when Mom and Rheegan were the cake decorators! 

3 - Accept help. If a guest offers to bring a side dish or dessert...LET THEM! This has been my biggest struggle (type A) but I really appreciate the team effort now. And its fun to see what guests bring! Just make sure you remind them the day before to make sure you're not missing a dish in case they forgot.

Here my Mom offered to bring a veggie appetizer and delicious wings

 Veronica brought the desserts and a few appetizers! Major help! And my Auntie brought wine and my sister brought champagne!

4 - Keep it easy. This isn't a 4 star restaurant...its your house! Stick to an easy menu that you're comfortable with and stick to staples. Don't serve tuna tartar or some unfamiliar foreign cuisine. Stick to what you are comfortable making and a menu that makes sense and works together.

I often make my Farfalle con Pirelli for guests. Easy and delicious!
 Simple and elegant
Traditional Thanksgiving meal, nothing crazy

And some fun party fixins
5 - Make it fun! Have fun with your guests. Nobody likes a stressed out host that is running around like a chicken with its head cut off ( I have SO BEEN THERE). It takes a few parties to learn what worked and what didn't. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Another way to make it fun is by adding a theme. Is it a Halloween party? Dress up! Christmas party? Do a fun contest or yankee swap! Maybe have someone dress up as Santa for the kiddos. 

And a few random side notes:
* If a football game is on, PUT IT ON. Your guests will love it and it creates a laid back vibe making your guests feel at home.
* Point out the trash and bathroom for guests to use so they don't have to ask.
* Offer a few selections of alcohol and beverages in general. Some people love wine, some love beer, some cocktails, some don't want to drink but want more than water! 
* Have a table setting that doesn't block conversation. 

Exhibit A: football is on, the table setting is simple and everyone can see each other and there are a variety of drinks on the table. Mmmmm Harpoon IPA forever. 

Aso, the wonderful folks over at Liberty Table Top have shared this really cool infographic on the proper way to dine no matter where you are! I always love these. Its so fun to look at and see what you should work on. From my experience, its a good thing to learn but not something you always have to do. I have found myself in the company of some important people and it was nice to know how to eat properly!

I hope this post helped out! Dang, Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks! The holidays are the best time and are truly so special. So from my family to yours....
May they be merry, bright, and full of love. 
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