Helpful Hosting Tips For the Average Girl

I absolutely love hosting! It's actually one of life's simple joys for me. I LOVE having people over; everything from getting my home ready to have them over to the people actually being there for the gathering. We have a small apartment, so hosting doesn't happen as often as I'd like, but we have had some fun things here over the past few years. Last year I hosted all of our neighbors in our building for a Christmas party, I also had 15 girls cram in for a holiday edition of a My Favorite Things party, and we've had lots of small groups for church over. In thinking about moving to a home one day, some of my main considerations will be about hosting people in the house! 

Since the holidays are coming up, I'm sharing a couple of my favorite hosting tips with you. And listen, I'm not hosting anything extravagant, so these tips are for the average girl, just like me. I hope they're helpful!

1. Get as much prepped BEFORE the party as possible. I got this tip from my old piano / singing teacher who would host amazing get togethers at her house. I remember being young, but watching her every move at parties to see what she did to make them flow so seamlessly. One of the things she did ahead of time was lay out the serving dishes that food would sit in on the counters and put a post-it-note with the name of the food that went in that dish. So when the party started, she would get that food item out and put it in the right dish without even thinking about it! This works extra well when people are bringing food to the party and you want them set in specific dishes. They know exactly where it goes :) 

Other examples of getting things prepped ahead of time would include getting your bar cart ready by opening bottles, filling the ice bucket, cutting the garnishes, and setting out glasses nearby the drinks. You can preheat the oven, unlock the front door so guests can let themselves in, and get things all set in a "staging area" if you have one. For us, this means our tiny laundry room ;) This even means getting as much as you can ticked off your shopping list a couple days in advance, so you're not crazily rushing around town the day of the party. If you get your house cleaned or do it yourself, do it the day before so you're not feeling dissolved before guests arrive.

2. Fresh flowers! I usually put one arrangement on the coffee table and one on the dining table. Maybe a couple sprigs of greenery in budvases near the food if I'm wanting it to be extra festive. 

3. Some people recommend doing unscented candles near the food or where people will eat so all the food scents and candle smells won't poorly mix. I try to keep my candles away from the food for this reason, but I always have a yummy one lit in the bathroom!

4. Put a cute sign on the front door that says "come on in!" or "let yourself in!" so you don't have to run to answer the door every time. On the same note, as guests enter, if you want them to remove their shoes be sure to have a sign and a designated area so there's no second guessing what you'd rather them do.

5. To-do lists are very helpful for the few days leading up to the party and for the party day itself. Keeping yourself organized is key in not getting stressed at the end.

6. When guests enter, greet them and ask them if they'd like anything to drink. This is always a great first thing for them to do! Show them where the drinks are and tell them what you have to offer so they feel comfortable right away. And on this topic, be sure you have a little variety of drinks so everyone has something they can choose from. For example, if someone doesn't drink make sure there's something fun for them to sip on while everyone else sips their wine or cocktail. Wouldn't want anyone to feel left out!

7. Personalize! This is a great way to make your guests feel extra special. If you're doing a dinner party, think about making place cards or something festive. If it's a baby or wedding shower, think of personal details that the guest of honor would love and sprinkle them around. 

8. Music is a must at any gathering. It not only brings people together, but it also creates a welcoming and festive atmosphere.

9. Let the good times roll...and let all the other times roll right off ya ;) Sometimes it's stressful getting ready for a party. Just remember done is better than perfect and what really matters is the people who are coming. I always want my main goal to be focusing on how the people feel who are in our home. I want them to feel cared for and loved because of all the touches and food around the house. I don't want to make people feel like they can't touch anything, but rather want them to feel like they're at home. Being carefree and outgoing during a gathering, not too tethered to the kitchen, is a way of doing this!

A couple more food and drink tips:

- Finger food works great! I set out little appetizer plates just in case they want them. These are the ones I have. They were one of the best things I registered for! Fun paper napkins are a great touch to put by the plates.
- I usually stick with cheese and crackers and a bit of fruit (grapes are perfect because you can cut them into small bunches for people to take!)
- I find a mixture of salty & sweet foods are the perfect mix. For this, I love doing Trader Joe's caramel & cheddar popcorn, pretzels, cheese and assorted crackers, french bread (this always goes first!), grapes and my all-time favorite cream cheese with Trader Joe's pepper jelly on top (only available at the holidays now!). It's a crowd favorite! Then simple cookies and mini cupcakes for dessert always works well.
- I try to vary the heights and container shapes that hold the food items. You can see I used a cake stand for desserts, a wide platter for the crackers, a taller bowl for the popcorn, and smaller platters for the other items.
- I always have a separate drink station for water and non-alcoholic drinks. I put this on the kitchen counter, while the alcoholic drinks go on the bar buffet.

Let me know what hostess tips YOU have! I love picking up new tips.


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