Five Essential Entertaining Tips Every Host Should Know
Throwing a great party—whether it be an intimate cocktail party or Thanksgiving dinner for 25—is an undertaking. While the best hosts make entertaining look effortless, there's a lot that goes into making sure your guests are having a good time. So, how do you go about doing just that while also making sure your party is progressing smoothly? We spoke to two of our favorite professional party planners, Jung Lee, event designer and founder of Fête, and Sunna Yassin, founder of Bash Please, for their hosting wisdom.
Plan a Loose Timeline
Even if you're throwing a casual backyard barbecue it's good to think about the arc of the party, so you're prepared for whatever is thrown at you. "Have a plan—what's the beginning, middle, and ending to your event?" says Lee. "For example, when I host a dinner party, it's important for me to keep things moving. Arrival means drinks, music, and light snacks." Then the host transitions to dinner. "Lastly, it's coffee, tea, some dessert, and more drinks—and maybe even a dance party!" she says. As with any gathering, gauge the mood of your guests. Even if you have a loose timeframe for a sequence of events, don't rush guests to the next phase of the evening if everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.
Introductions Are Key
Is there anything more uncomfortable than arriving at a party and not knowing any of the other guests? Make sure that you not only greet your family members and friends, but that you also introduce them to each other. "After introducing your guests, call out any commonalities they may have with each other," Lee says. "The connectivity is so important not only for their comfort level, but also to ensure everyone has a great time throughout the party."
Make Sure You're Having Fun, Too
While making sure your guests are enjoying the party is very important, it's important to make sure you're having a good time, too. If you seem stressed, everyone else will feel it. "After spending so much time planning every detail it can be difficult to let go of any worry from the pre-planning process, but try to relax before your guests arrive," says Yassin. "Guests feed off of the host's energy, so if you're having a good time, they'll be having a good time."
Overstock the Bar
As Lee points out, having more alcohol on hand than you may need is always a good idea—most guests will agree that nothing kills a party faster than running out of drinks. "Have chilled wine and bubbly, ice for any cocktails, and a good selection of alcohol—vodka, tequila, gin, and scotch are the big crowd-pleasers," she says. The expert also suggests having a station set up with ice, bar accessories, and glasses so guests can help themselves (and you can spend less time pouring drinks!).
Don't Forget the Kids
If you're hosting a party and opening the invitation to children, make sure you have a designated activity area set up so they don't get bored. "If you want a stress-free event, don't forget the kids," says Yassin. "New crayons, coloring books, and a touch of play dough go a long way. And if their kids are occupied, your adult guests will be able to relax much more easily."