UPDATED: 12TH JULY 2018
Hosting your own party is one of the most stressful things you can do, alongside wrestling alligators, diffusing a bomb with your hands tied behind your back or trying to tie your daughters hair in plaits one minute before you have to leave for school.
There are so many things that you need to get right (or not have go spectacularly wrong), it can be a great cause of stress. But what exactly are your responsibilities as a host, and how can you go about them in a way that makes the night fun for your guests, but also relaxing and easy for you too?
Is that even possible?
Here are some of my favourite ideas on how to be the perfect host or hostess for you next party, so that you, and your guests can have a great night!
Let’s break it down into some of the key areas:
You can make any big cleaning sweeps of your house 2 or 3 days before the party, on the proviso that your family is one of those rare breeds of family that can maintain this clean state going for a few days until the party (if not, you might need to just have one, big frantic cleaning spree 28 seconds before the guests arrive…or tie your family up in the basement; after all, it’s only for a few days!).
The two aspects of cleaning that you may want to leave as late as possible are the bathroom and kitchen, as these areas can get dirty and messy really fast, and even the tiniest bit of untidiness can look bad.
Get plenty of toilet rolls too!
Also, I’ve seen enough episodes of “Come Dine With Me” to realise that, when guests are left alone in your house, they WILL go snooping. So, if you’ve got anything embarrassing/incriminating that you don’t want them to see, make sure to hide it some place safe, away from prying eyes.
Make sure you wash all of the plates and cutlery you’ll be using on the night. Even if it’s the fancy stuff you only get out for the best occasions (royal wedding, Haley’s Comet sighting or husband leaving the loo seat down without prompting).
Give it the once over in the dishwasher before the party, as dust gathers (and it’s mostly human skin…Ewwww!).
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of cutlery and plates, it’s probably better to over estimate the amount you’ll need. Far better to have too much clean crockery than too little and have to rummage through the grubby stuff.
You might also benefit from planning where you’re going to put things after they’ve been used. As the party host, you’re not probably going to be washing up and putting away pots between courses, but knowing what you’re going to do with glasses, forks and plates can save you a lot of worry and stress, as well as potential breakages from delicately balanced pots.
Ambience can be a tricky thing for a party host to get right. The easiest way is to think about ambience is in terms of your senses – sight, touch, smell, taste and hear. What do you want happening to each of these at your party?
Do you want loud music as guests arrive, or do you want a more refined Cellist performing live in your garden to help welcome your guests?
Do you want the scent of the food sweeping through the house, or are you going to go overboard on the Glade plug-ins and captivate everyone with the scent of forest pine?
Prosecco on arrival, or a nice cool beer?
Roaring fireplace, or a few, well-placed candles?
Think about what you would like your guests to experience and then use that as your guide when it comes to setting the mood.
OH, MY GOD! The Guests are arriving!!!
If there’s one tip above all else that will make you a great host, it’s to make sure that you spend some time with each guest as they arrive. Greet them warmly (hugs and handshakes, depending on appropriateness).
Take their coat (resist the urge to go through the pockets), give them a drink and introduce them to someone else before you hurriedly leave them to go tend to the raging fire in the kitchen.
This is when it can help to have something going on that can keep your guests happy and help break the ice; something that works without YOU needing to do it (MASSIVE PLUG COMING UP…). Booking a magician or any other kind of entertainer can be brilliant for this (I did warn you about the plug). An entertainer can bring your guests together, get them laughing, and take the worry and pressure off you, allowing you to be the perfect host; calm and relaxed…
…and able to focus on the other 3,000 jobs you have to do!
When it comes to introducing your guests to other guests, see if you can genuinely link them together with someone they have something in common with. “Frank, this is Tony, you two should get on well, you were both convicted of Fraud in the 1980s”.
Something like that.
Remember, your guests understand that you won’t be able to spend all night only with them, so mingling and making sure you see everyone isn’t something you need to apologise for. If you have to escape the conversation because of a knock at the door, the oven has just “dinged” or because they’re just really bloody boring and you want to get away, do. It’s one of the perks of being the perfect party host!
During the Party
The main role of the host during the party is to make sure that your guests are happy.
The easiest way of doing this is to make sure that everyone has plenty of access to food and drink. Keep them filled and you’re well on your way to keeping them happy.
Like a good plate spinner, try to keep and eye on all of your guests. When you spot someone with an empty glass, offer a refill and then check all the other plates.
The plate spinner analogy is also a good one to keep in mind when it comes to keeping boredom and loneliness at bay; keep and eye on ALL of your guests and try to spot the ones looking especially bored or lonely. If you find one, go over and see what you can do to help. Switch guests around; start new conversations, invent games and topics to talk about.
It’s a fine balancing act, but the act of being vigilant in itself is often enough to eliminate the boredom worry.
It’s important to realise that, no matter how good you are as a plate spinner, some guests make a determined effort to be bored or lonely. There are people who, even if greeted with a troupe of dancing gerbils would remain painfully indifferent, and spend the entire party playing Angry Birds on their phone.
As a party host, it’s important to pick your battles carefully. Much better to spend your time helping people who actually WANT to have a good time at your party.
One aspect that many party hosts fail to consider is that they can actually bring people into the hosting role as an assistant. Get shy or lonely people to help you with small tasks. Hopefully, this involvement will make them feel less self-conscious about themselves and give them a bit of a push to mingle more with the other guests.
As a party host, it can be sometimes difficult to know what mood to take. You want to be fun and lively, but not TOO fun and lively. You want to be casual and friendly, but not TOO casual and friendly.
What’s a party host supposed to do?
Probably not that.
Aim for the middle of the road. Give your guests the chance to create their own experiences of the party. Don’t go butting into conversations that are doing just fine without your interference. Don’t offer food and drink to someone who clearly has an ample supply of both.
Remember, even though you’re the party host, this is still YOUR party. Your guests won’t be able to have a good time if you’re stressed or constantly crying in the kitchen.
YOU need to have fun and have a great time too, so relax (a little) and have a good time (but not too much of a good time).
If When Things go wrong
It’s inevitable that, in your party hosting life, something will go wrong. It may not be this party or the next, but some time in the future, you’ll make a mistake and you’ll think it’s the end of the world.
The best advice for party hosts when something goes wrong is to simply embrace it. Take it on the chin. Have fun with it and carry on anyway. Don’t try to hide it from your guests.
If you’ve forgotten to put the turkey in the oven and it’s still frozen in the freezer, tell them. Get them on board with helping provide a solution to the problem. They’ve done silly mistakes before too, so they’ll be relieved and it will help to break any tension, allowing guests to relax and have a great time.
Remember, even if you want to be the perfect party host, the aim is not to throw the perfect party from start to finish; the aim is to give everyone a great time while they are here with you. You can still do this while the world collapses around you.
Just make it a fun collapse.
You don’t want your guests to say “Wow! Isn’t Jane a fabulous hostess?”, you want them to say, “Wow! That was an awesome night!”.
Boo! The Party is over!
When it comes to saying goodbye to your guests, do it in the same way as when they arrived. Be genuine, thank them for coming and spend a few moments with each.
Oh, and frisk them to make sure they haven’t stolen anything.
Make sure that all of your guests have a way of getting home safely. Keep a good amount of taxi phone numbers handy for those guests whose glasses you’ve been nervously refilling all night. You may need to reserve some sofa space, for any guests that are especially “chilled”.
They’ve all gone home
Well done! You hosted the perfect party. Your guests felt welcomed, involved, had a great time, met lots of interesting people and enjoyed bountiful amounts of food and drink.
Now all you have to do is clean up.
That’s a quick ten-minute job, surely…?
Best make it twelve minutes…
If you want to be the perfect host, be sure to book a party magician for your guests – one that will get them laughing and having a great time!
Believe it or not, I can help you with this…
*** WARNING!! THERE’S A SALES MESSAGE COMING!!! THERE’S A SALES MESSAGE COMING!!! ***
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I can get your guests laughing and having a fabulous time at YOUR party, allowing you to relax and enjoy yourself!
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