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Entertaining Tips: How To Be The Best Hostess

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Avoid the stress of the holiday season and host like a pro with our hostess tips!

Gather your guest list

Before you start pulling out the decorations and exploring Pinterest for all the fun & festive things, it’s important to know who (family, friends, work, etc.) and how many (5, 10, 30, etc.) people you’ll be hosting to properly prepare the events, menu, and social setting before your gathering.

Once you’ve gathered your guest list, send out your invitations at least one month in advance and keep a list of responses marked by three categories: yes, no, maybe/unresponsive. When you are 10 days away from the event, be sure to follow up with those you haven’t heard from.

It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, so knowing who is coming to your gathering is important as you start to prep your menu!

Deep clean and refresh your space

While you await your RSVPs, get a jumpstart on your party planning and knock out the most cumbersome cleaning tasks!

Set aside a day (or two) to make sure the area you’re hosting is nice and neat for people to enjoy. Don’t cut corners and simply close the door to that one room you think no one will go into—it’s inevitable someone will mistake it for the bathroom or start exploring the house on their own. Instead, be prepared to welcome your guests to your home, inviting them to enjoy the spaces you’ve worked hard to prepare.

This is also a great time to evaluate any landscaping needs you’ve been putting off. Are the hedges trimmed? Are you in need of an extra layer of pine straw or mulch? Do the flower beds and driveway need to be edged? Is the grass cut low enough for guests to walk through? Double-check any needs based on the greenery and display in your yard. It’s an additional effort on your part but is one that won’t go unnoticed.

Create the Menu

Now that you know who you’re planning for you can start crafting your holiday menu. As you start to plan your meal, consider these ideas:

  • Collaborating: Can I ask someone to bring food? Should everyone bring a dish?
  • Time & Budget:
    • What items can I buy in advance at the grocery store?
    • What items can I make of the week of or in the days prior?
    • Are there any items that make more sense for me to purchase premade? (Preordering your favorite dishes from your local retailer or restaurant can be fun!)

Depending on the formality of your event, there’s plenty of room to delegate tasks which can relieve you of unnecessary time and energy spent on planning. The sooner you know how you need to provide the foods you’re serving, the more time you allow yourself (or others) to properly prepare them.

Plan some light entertainment

While good food and conversation can go a long way, you definitely want to include games or activities to avoid any awkward silence and pauses. Research the best games to keep your guests engaged like seasonal games, trivia, karaoke, or gift exchanges. Whatever your guest list enjoys most, build in time on your event agenda so you can enjoy the holidays together.

Deck the Halls

The most exciting step of hosting—decorating! Set the mood of your event in advance by pulling out your decorations a few days early. Doing so allows you to play around with your design plan and lets you see if you’ve forgotten anything.   It’s important to take into consideration the setting and room where your guests will spend the majority of their time. Make sure your decor accentuates your party space rather than taking up the extra room.

Some fun ideas to consider are balloon arches, seasonal signs and home décor, streamers, or even themed party favors! 

Set the Table

We all know everyone will be gathering around it, so make it cozy, festive, fun, enticing—whatever vibe you’re looking for! Your centerpiece can also be done days in advance. If your event is outside, be sure to plan for icky weather and have some tents or umbrellas handy! It may even behoove you to search for table settings and décor that can withstand the elements.

If you’re planning an event that includes children, we recommend setting a separate space for them to enjoy—a table at a minimum or a whole room if you have the space. Let’s face it, the kid’s table is always where the best memories are made while keeping most of the mess concealed.

Set the Tone with Tunes

No party is complete without a playlist. Whether you’re looking for holiday jams for everyone to enjoy, or festive background music to match the mood, find or create a playlist fitting for your gathering. If you want to kick things up a notch, request song suggestions from your guest on your RSVP cards!

Take Time for Self-Care

Let’s face it—the idea of a party is far more attractive than the execution of the party. That’s why we recommend you take the time to plan! It can be a little overwhelming so it’s important to set aside time for yourself.

Yes, you read that correctly! Your wellbeing is just as important as the fun everyone will have, so set aside time to enjoy things that help you relieve stress. The more you can plan ahead, the better, so you can enjoy the holidays without compromising your sanity.

Have more ideas for what it takes to be the ‘hostess with the mostess’? Email them to us and we’ll feature your suggestions in our next email newsletter and on social!