Planning on throwing a soiree? Hosting houseguests involves a little more effort than just pulling out the foldout couch. And as a guest, can you wear a t-shirt to a cocktail party? Is it okay to drink till you can’t see straight? We have gathered our must know hostess commandments that every host and guest should follow.
A word of warning: If you play by our rules, be prepared to welcome visitors back for years to come!
Never Ask A Host “Who’s Going?”
It may give off a vibe that you are attending the event simply for the pleasure of others and not for the one giving the party. The other guests shouldn’t even matter, they want you there and that’s all you need to know.
Let Your Guests Know Timings Before The Day & Talk About Plus Ones
Whether your husband has a big work project the next day or you're planning an out-of-town trip, let your guests know when you'll be ready for them and when you'll need them to leave. A good host can become a bad host very quickly when guests overstay their welcome!
If you must bring a plus one to the event, it is always a good idea to tell the host at least three days in advance to make the necessary arrangements. Gate crashers are never welcomed and often infuriates hosts who have prepared for a particular number of people. In addition, it may embarrass your plus one as well, especially when there are no seats available around the meticulously planned dinner table.
Invite A Few VIPS For Pre-Drinks…And Help
Always invite one or two friends over a little earlier to help decant wine, mix cocktails, and sort of populate the room before the rest of the guests arrive. Not only will having your pals around help you de-stress, it will also make it less awkward when a potential random "plus one" shows up right on the dot.
Although It's Not 100% Necessary, Consider Bringing A Little Token Or Gift
It shows your appreciation in being invited. Nice gifts could range from a good bottle of wine, to a much buzzed about cake, or even a simple cigar to offer the man of the house when drinking post-dinner brandy.
Remember that the size or price of the gift is insignificant. What you need to focus on instead is what that person will like. It also needs to be appropriate for the situation. For example, a gift for a single person or a couple's dinner party would be different from what you'd gift a family that's hosting you for the weekend.
On Arrival, Find Time To Say Hello To Your Gracious Host
If he or she is being spoken to, come back and greet them when they’re free. Never interrupt a conversation between the host and other guests. Do the same before leaving. French Exiting is no longer chic. Say goodbye to your host and thank them for having you. It’s the simplest way to show your gratitude.
There Is Fashionably Late And Then There Is Just Rude
One is expected to arrive at a party on time. It is only acceptable to be a maximum of half an hour late (a window for unexpected traffic), unless a real emergency comes up. If you have a previous engagement and unsure of your arrival time, it is best not to join a formal dinner at all and simply inform the host that you will arrive for drinks at the end.
Always Observe The Theme
Nothing will irritate a host more than seeing you in a black t-shirt when the invitation says cocktail chic. You may not own a floral shirt for the next Hawaiian afternoon event, but there are always ways to incorporate themes into your outfit. Make Google your best friend. It may teach you wonderful tricks like using a floral tie as an accessory or how to make use of that Hermes scarf you bought on a shopping spree.
Ask For Help
Do you find yourself constantly saying "I'm fine!" when people offer help. This is the host's version of rejecting a compliment: Don't do it! If someone is generous enough to offer their help, take it. They can help put together a cheese board, light candles, do dishes, so you can focus on those last minute details.
Be A Prepared Host And Ensure Everyone's Comfortable.
An empty pantry is fine, if that's what your family is used to, but don't let your visitors go hungry. Make a point to offer them snacks and drinks often, or encourage them to help themselves.
First be sure to inquire about any food allergies or restricted diets, there is nothing worse for the host or the guest than serving up, or being served food you dislike or are allergic to!
If the party revolves around the consumption of a 27 day-aged premium cut of beef, maybe its best that you decline the invitation rather than making everybody feel guilty that you are now temporarily on a vegan diet. If you insist on being with your friends, bring your own food so that you don’t impose on your host, or attend for after dinner drinks only.
Fill The Void.
Awkward silence is the worst, so fill those pauses with your favourite moderate energy music, Jazz vibes is a great choice, but whatever your favourite should work, unless it’s heavy metal, then maybe not!
Only Bring Your Kids Or Babies To The Appropriate Events
Barbeques, weekend gatherings and playdates are a good idea. If the host wants you to bring your kid for a day of swimming at their newly refurbished home, we are certain they will let you know. However, nobody wants to hear a crying baby at girly gossip time over mimosas.
Don’t Make The Convo All About You
If you finally bought those hard to come by Chanel Trainers you had your eye on, it’s okay to share the good news with your girlfriends. But don’t consistently talk about it that everyone’s attention are to your feet rather than your bestie’s new engagement. Dinner conversations such as gossip, politics, and religion are also big no-no’s on the table unless the host brings it up first.
Don’t Hoard The Good Stuff
The host’s aperitif table may be overflowing with Beluga caviar, seared foie gras and the best cheeses from Switzerland, but it may be seen in bad taste to overflow your plate when first arriving to the buffet. It’s fine to get a generous portion, but never wipe it out. You’re always welcome to come back for seconds when everybody has had their first.
Ask Permission Before Changing The Host’s Music
You may not like to listen to their Best of the 90s playlist, and we absolutely don’t blame you for not liking some individuals choices, but be respectful when plugging in your phone before assuming that the host wouldn’t mind. They may be in the pool enjoying a drink, but could still be waiting for their 90's hit to boom.
Alcohol Is Your friend, But Not Your Best Friend
Never drink more than you can handle. Not only may you embarrass yourself with your crazy antics or potentially inappropriate conversation, but you may become a bother to the party giver and their guests. Good alcohol should enhance the experience, but it should never be the experience alone. Drink what you like, but why go to a party when you can’t remember that you promised everybody a trip to Bali on your credit card?
Nice Smells & Good Lighting
Light candles, toast crostini, slice up fresh citrus for cocktails, get those delicious smells going to kick start everyone's appetite. Additionally, turn the lights a few degrees lower than you think is appropriate, and light tea candles to compensate. The glow of candlelight is universally flattering, and your single friends will thank you.
When The Cuisine Is Not To Your Liking, Never Announce It To The World
It’s not the host’s fault that he learned how to cook the world’s best steak on Instagram’s Tasty. Eat slowly and chew as if you have a secret. When you want to offer a tip on how to prepare a certain dish, it is best done between the privacy of you and the hostess and never around the other guests. They might appreciate that you know the supplier of the new Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook rather than the handle of the hottest IG chef.
Use The 1:3 Ratio For Cooking & Give Yourself 25% Extra Time Than You Think!
Everyone wants to be a hero when they're hosting and do everything, but that is a recipe for stress. Avoid ruining that dish you tried out for the first time, don't lose track of time, especially for applying lipstick and getting glammed up. To keep things simple there are two rules: 1) No new dishes, and 2) For every cooked dish you do, make 3 ahead or assembly only.
This means for every main course, there's a salad, a cheese board, and a dessert made the day before, balancing everything out. This way, you can focus on the one centre piece that requires a little extra effort, and not sweat the quick to assemble, "ready out of the fridge" stuff.
Sometimes we all get a little over ambitious thinking we can defy physics. Doing an hour's worth of work in 20 minutes? Yeah, it's not happening, no matter how put together you are. Always schedule in a little bit of cushion when hosting an event, so if you think you need an hour, give yourself an hour and 15, you'll be so happy you did.
You did it! You've hosted an amazing get-together, you've kicked off your shoes and blown out the candles and you're about to soak in the tub until…you walk past the pile of dishes in the sink! Maybe consider having help for after the party. That feeling of relief once the last person leaves shouldn't be ruined by a series of exhausting chores. Think about asking a friend stay, play some tunes, load up the dishwasher and get to bed!
Share Your Family's Schedule & House Rules
If your visitors are staying for a while, don't just let them know if you're early risers (or night owls), also write down the days and hours you'll be at work as well as at other activities, like when you're planning on going to the gym etc.
You may even fancy building in some alone time. A few unscheduled hours a day will allow you to take a well-deserved breather and give your visitors time to take a nap or catch up on e-mail. Tell them where you'll be ("I'm going to tend to the garden for a couple of hours. Yell if you need me.") and when you expect to see them again ("I'll start pouring predinner cocktails on the deck at 6.").
If you have a shoes-off policy or your cats aren't allowed outside, let them know at the beginning of their visit. Make accommodations for smokers while hinting that you don't want them to light up in your house. "If you'd like to take a cigarette break, I left an ashtray and matches on the front steps" gets your point across without making you seem too overbearing.
Don't Make Friends Feel Like Intruders – Be Visitor Friendly
If you have a spare bedroom, leave out thoughtful extras, like slippers and bottles of water. Empty the trash and clear your personal belongings from the dresser. If your guests are staying in a home office or den, don't just stack blankets on the couch. Set up the room like a bedroom and avoid using the space while they are there—unless you're in especially tight quarters.
Ensure you have plenty of clean towels on hand. If your TV has five remotes (plus another for the sound system) explain how to get everything up and running, or write out instructions. Take extra precautions for pint-size guests: Putting away knickknacks and breakables is easier than playing bad cop—or losing something priceless.
If you're OK with your guests grabbing snacks or hopping on the computer, point them in the right direction. Also let them know where they can find more toilet paper and extra linens. To that end, if you'd rather they stay away from certain things, tuck them away before your guests arrive.
To Summarise... Do you
Being a host means that you are responsible for the experience of everyone walking into your home. You're in charge of making sure they're well fed (if it's that kind of a party), well slaked (if it's that kind of a party), and generally having a good time.
You make introductions, keep the conversation moving, and keep the energy flowing the whole night. You also should take a breath and make sure to have fun. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the process of throwing a party, that we forget to actually take part in the party.
Enjoy your delicious food, sip a refreshing drink, and take the time to savour an evening with close friends. P.S: Don’t forget to Invest in a good bottle opener. This will save time and your carpet. It’s easy to spill a bottle trying to pry one open!