Okay, so when most people think about hosting, they immediately think of the most stressful outcomes at a dinner party. I mean the whole burnt-lasagna, overbearing guest, politics-at-the-table fiasco. Yikes. No wonder people are so afraid of it.
But let's be real.
Real life hosting is never like the Griswold's Christmas Vacation.
There is definitely stress in these events, but with planning, excitement, and a genuine interest to not just please guests, but to make memories with them, hosting can be one of the most rewarding roles to take on.
That's why I wanted to share some tips with you to help make your next event more manageable. I have a few general guidelines that I learned over the years on how to be the hostess with the mostess!
1. Make your guest list manageable
Your guests are of course the most important part of any gathering. It may be tempting to try and keep everybody included, but in reality, if you are stressed out by more than 10 people, then you won't be able to make the most of it, and you, as well as your guests, may not have as much fun! The optimal range for me is 6~8 people for dinners, because I know how much my oven can bear, and how many people it will take to crowd my dining room.
This number will vary per host, but try to find your optimum range, and stick to it!
2. Send out those invites EARLY!
Nowadays, EVERYONE is busy. Give them plenty of time in advance. Two weeks is standard, but I suggest a little more than that, just to ensure that people can find the time to RSVP with ease. Hopefully, they can RSVP a little earlier with that extra bit of time, so you know what size group you're taking on. This helps in shopping, meal planning, table settings, and beyond!
3. Plan your meals ahead of time, and optimize your freezer!
Okay, I know some people cringe at the idea of frozen meals, but really, if you're juggling cooking, welcoming guests, keeping the party flowing, music, decorations, and more, you'll need to cut yourself some slack.
I'm not saying you should make frozen enchiladas for the entire group. What I mean is that you should cook as much as you can ahead of time, and freeze or refrigerate anything that can be reheated with ease. I make my pies almost a week in advance, because they freeze well, and when the big day comes, I slide it in the oven a good 30-~40 minutes before dessert, and it's done! Homemade perfection, without the extra fuss!
4. Get your dinnerware ready ahead of time
In the original Sleeping Beauty, all the fairies of the land were invited to a dinner for the birth of Sleeping Beauty, including Maleficent. During the setup, one of the workers dropped a plate, and they were short one set. They decided to tell Maleficent the dinner was cancelled, and simply serve everyone but her. She found out that the party went on without her, and then cursed the princess.
Long story short, make sure you have dinnerware ready! Backups are handy, but hopefully not required.
Planning your table setting can be one of the most exciting aspects of hosting. You finally have an excuse to splurge on fresh flowers, put out that nice vase you got as a wedding present, and really see what your event will look like! Set the table ahead of time, and make sure everything flows, fits, and fully exceeds expectations!
4. Don't hesitate to ask for help!
Who DOESN'T love a good potluck? Really!
Asking guests to provide food and beverages is not only a huge help to yourself, but also allows your guests to partake in the prep, and show off their favorite recipes! It's ABSOLUTELY okay to ask. They're the ones being served after all!
5. Play up the atmosphere
Decor can really make or break events. Optimize the music, lighting, and party decorations to create the mood you're going for! If your husband and kids permit, put up your decorations at least 24 hours in advance. You'll be able to change your mind if needed, and see if anything might get in the way of people passing by. Also, you won't have to worry about slapping up sloppy streamers last second. Give yourself time to have fun!
6. Keep the drinks flowing
Unless you have a crazy budget, there's no need to have a full-time bartender. Pour a few drinks ahead of time, then set up a self-serve station. Bar carts work WONDERS in this area! They're fun and easy to set up, cute to look at, and they allow you to spend less time working, and more time enjoying your guests' presence.
Don't fret! You've got this!
Follow these rules, and you'll be on the road to a successful event!
XOXO - Darbie