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Host with the Utmost
Posted in Entertaining

We’ve all been to gatherings where, despite their best intentions, your hosts’ hosting has been a little off the mark – jarring music, not enough plates or cutlery (or, worse, the plastic, throwaway variety), a shortage of glassware, harsh lighting… the list goes on. You’ve taken mental notes and sworn to never commit any of these party-poopery faux pas. So, how do you get it right?

It’s all about the prep. And the personality. When you approach hosting as an extension of your personality, you bring something special to the party. During the colder months, it’s an opportunity to gather guests within the warm embrace of your home, and to send them home at the end of the night with happy memories of a great time. With this in mind, we’ve collated a list of 10 top tips that will have you shining as the host with the utmost:

Steven’s Party Protocol

  1. Prioritise party prep – think of the planning as the back-end detail that will set you up for a smoothly run evening. Ensure you have the basics in place – enough plates, cutlery (if you are hosting dinner), glassware and napkins. And set the table and organise the bar well before your first guest rings the doorbell.
  2. Make your guests feel welcome. Greet them with a signature drink, take their coats and introduce them to everyone else in the room. These are all really simple things, we know, but they’re easily forgotten in the flurry of arrivals. If you’ve invited a new acquaintance or two, introduce them to people you know they’ll enjoy talking to and explain how you know them and why they might have something in common, to kick off that first conversation.
  3. The music you play is key and fun to prepare but, if you get stuck for ideas, there are plenty of suggestions online to suit your do. Set up a free Spotify account and search for playlists that will lend the afternoon or evening the vibe you want.
  4. Keep the food simple – otherwise you’ll be doing laps of the kitchen rather than engaging with guests. Steer clear of dishes that require constantly stirring (hello, risotto) or last minute cooking. One-pot stews or dishes can be prepared hours in advance and bubble away as your guests arrive. Some cold dishes can be assembled ahead of time too. That way you can maximise time with your friends.
  5. If you need help with serving nibbles or the main course, ask a friend or two in advance to be your servery sidekicks. People don’t mind lending a hand; it also gives them the chance to chat with friends and meet new people as they help.
  6. If you are the sole host, simply accept that you can’t do it all and ensure a friend can take care of drinks for the first hour or so of your soiree. By the time the party’s underway, guests will be happy to help themselves to a bar or table set up with drinks and glasses, but it’s nice to have someone serving liquid refreshments on arrival.
  7. Get the lighting right – it will give your guests a warm glow and your glassware will sparkle! Candles, floor lamps and table lamps are the secret, so forget about unforgiving, overhead lighting that will have your guests blinking.
  8. Ensure your home is comfortable. Make it nice and warm and create cosy corners for guests to gather in. An empty room will send your less gregarious guests scurrying to the corners, while the party makers take centre stage. With pockets to gather in, the room will be less scary and by the time it fills up, the party will be in full, relaxed swing.
  9. More is more. Have back-up food (nothing complicated; good-quality bread and a few cheeses) and drinks in case people linger later than you expected and need some post-dinner or post-drinks sustenance.
  10. Even though your guests come first, don’t forget yourself. If you’re not having a good time, it’ll show, so get into the swing of things, take the lead with laughs and fun and enjoy being the host with the utmost!

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