Have you ever offered to have a few friends or coworkers over, only to find that you're suddenly lost in the chaos trying to be a good host? It seems that almost everyone experiences that moment of doubt, when all creative ideas vanish and when fear of being an ungracious host makes you question every move you make as you prepare for guests. Follow these tips in order to be assured that you're creating a warm and enjoyable atmosphere for guests, and you'll find that you have the peace of mind to sit back and relax with everyone else!
The first step to being an excellent host is making sure that food and drink is offered and available throughout the event. For as long as humans have gathered to spend time together, food has been featured as a main element, a common aspect that ties the guests' experience together upon a common cultural base. From blueberry muffins for a morning affair to light snacks during a meeting to cocktails on the weekend, no event is complete without something to eat or drink.
It's often said that the best way to the heart is through the stomach – and time and time again, this old saying in proven true! Try to ask yourself what your guests prefer to eat, and avoid very spicy or highly exotic ethnic dishes. Make sure you offer something for your health-conscious guests as well – a small plate of cut vegetables and fruits is an easy crowd pleaser. If you feel unsure, opt for timeless, simple, and natural classics: cheese and bread, olives, crackers and spreads are all well-loved dishes sure to please a wide range of guests.
It's always awkward when you feel that you, as a guest, have to ask a hundred questions in order to get around your hosts home. As a gracious host, you should not only invite your guests to
make themselves at home, but you should also show that you mean it by telling them what they need to know in order to get around the place. They'll be relieved if you let them know where the bathroom is right off the bat. Likewise, giving a quick tour of your home will help your guests become acquainted with the space. If you have time, plan your tour in advance – make sure the rooms are all clean, and figure out the best way to move from room to room so that you end up in the common space where drinks and food have been set out.
While you should have things picked up, leaving out a few conversation starters is always a great plan. Whether it's a few picture books on the coffee table, a photo album, or an interesting project that you've been working on, your guests will enjoy having something to converse about.
The garden is a key space for friendly gatherings. Whether you've got a small upper floor patio, a deck, or a large backyard, an outdoor space is a great spot for new acquaintances to feel laid-back and natural. Much less stuff than an indoors affair, an outdoor gathering benefits from a sense of space and a certain feeling of common ground. Consider the weather – if you plan on using your patio for future gatherings, you may want to invest in a few umbrellas or an awning for shade.
When you invite people into your home, you're inviting them to witness a piece of who you are, what you do, and what you like. If this is the first time you're inviting your friends, then this is the perfect time to show off a bit of what you do. You don't have to line up your collection of trophies, however – just move a few key items from your bedroom into the common areas, or add a few photos. Leave out a stack of your favorite books or decorate with interesting family artifacts. Even if you don't like the feeling of hogging the spotlight, your guests will enjoy getting to learn more about your lifestyle and your passions; they'll feel that they know you better, and as a result they'll feel more comfortable making themselves at home during the time they spend there.
Music has the ability to alter the mood of any occasion. An interior designer can help set the mood as far as visuals go, but the way your place sounds is all up to you! Instill an instant sense of lightheartedness and upbeat energy with an instrumental in the background. Likewise, you can set a certain mood with music that aligns with the theme of the gathering – if you're celebrating a holiday, play celebratory music. If you're having a few sophisticated cocktails, jazz or funk should do the trick. A backyard gathering feels great with acoustic guitar. And people always love hearing songs that they recognize, so play to the all-time crowd favorites for a soundtrack that's a sure hit.
So often, all it takes to make a party is a good sound system and plenty of food and drink. If there's a musician among your guests, or if anyone wants to get some vocal skills practice with a round of karaoke, then all the better!
Finally, some infallible advice is to make your guests part of everything. For example, lift the cooking burden off yourself and involve your friends by inviting them to share in the creation of some dessert or dish. This simple hosting technique will allow you to not only integrate the group and acquaint them with one another through a shared activity, but it will also allow you to better meet all the guests.
You can also involve your guests in an interactive environment by planning a dish that involves multiple steps – making s'mores around a fire (or even a candle flame) or decorating cookies with different colors of frosting are both fun activities that will involve your guests much more than a simple tray of cookies.
Looking for other tips on making your home inviting and comfortable? Bring the warmth of autumn into your home with tips from this seasonal decorating feature.