Whether it be a family gathering, festive holiday party, or just a quiet dinner with friends, a great host leaves everyone wanting more. It doesn’t matter if the main course is overcooked or the dog lifts his leg on a guest, a great host makes the event sparkle regardless. Holidays are meant to be lighthearted and joyous. Here is how to be a great host for the holidays and have your guests eager to be invited back next time.
As a host you are the captain of your guest’s enjoyment. A great host starts with the right mindset. Strive to create a wonderful holiday experience for your guests. The main job for a host is to be a stress reducer. Whatever you can do to make your guests more at home, do it. Design your event for fun.
Mix Up The Guest List
Someone once said always invite friends to a family get-together, it helps insure the family behaves. Good friends who make great conversation are the perfect disruptor to family dynamics.
If you always have the same group of friends, shake things up by letting each guest invite someone new.
Get The Party Started
Let your guests in on the theme with your invite. A snappy theme gets the excitement building.
Create a signature cocktail or wine and greet your guests with drink. A signature cocktail, sets the tone for fun. It is also easier (and cheaper) than trying to have everyone’s favorite spirit.
Feed People Well
Serve food your guests will enjoy. Its the holidays, make it a little special. Be mindful of calories or food allergies, if your guests are, but don’t upend your entire culinary repertoire just for one person.
Roll With It
Whatever happens remain positive, your guests will take their cues from you. If you fall apart because the main dish landed on the floor on the way out of the kitchen, this instantly makes others uncomfortable. But if you laugh and move on, even if you have to excuse yourself run into the kitchen and come back with a platter of grilled cheese sandwiches as the replacement main dish, your guests will be happy.
Gifts are always welcome and a great way to show your appreciation. Those cute packages of cocktail napkins with funny sayings, make perfect parting gifts.
Send guests home with something homemade, even if it’s a chocolate chip cookie, candied nuts or a bottle of your latest brew. For a martini party one year, I made sugar cookies decorated like big olives and handed them each a cookie in a bag on their way out the door. They still talk about the “martini cookies.” According to legend, a few of those cookies apparently saved a few people from loosing theirs on the way home. 🙂
Whatever is swirling in your head about what you “should” do in regard to the event whether it be who you “should” invite or what you “should” serve, if you can’t honestly replace the should statement with “I’d feel great about” inviting… or serving or whatever, don’t. If you would not be overjoyed with having your pain-in-the-butt nephew who has the social graces akin to a black cloud, don’t invite him. Take him to lunch on another day.
If you don’t want to eat the same thing every single year, remember green bean casserole, any of those traditional dishes, was new once. Reboot tradition, infuse new traditions into the age old holiday menu. Make if fun, challenge your guests to bring updated dishes.
Plan and Prepare
- Make lists, place sticky-notes, whatever you have to be completely organized and ready an hour before the guests arrive, do it.
- Figure out your timing on how long it takes to do everything and schedule yourself accordingly.
- Lay out the table and do a dry run of serving pieces beforehand so there’s time to find or get whatever you need.
- Preparation equals relaxation, for you and your guests.
What is the number one way to make your guests appreciate your hospitality?
Nothing feels better than to simply be cared about. How do you achieve this? Remember. Remember your Aunt Laura is allergic to mushrooms. Remember this is your sister-in-law’s first holiday since her husband passed away. Remembering little tidbits which can influence your guest’s enjoyment is like waving a magic wand. The acknowledgement, even passively, of another’s distinctions makes people feel wonderful.
Now go out there and have some fun. A great host becomes the perfect host when everyone feels welcome, lighthearted and special.