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Party 101: Dos & Donts for a Host

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2009 at 1:30 am

October, November & December are typically loaded with parties. They come with big festivals such as Diwali, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But we don’t need occasions to party & meet people. Socializing is a common part of our lives. Summer comes loaded with BBQ parties for instance. There are tons of websites and TV programs that give inputs on setting up your space for party, cooking food, etc. But I haven’t come across a good comprehensive list of things to do and not to do. So, here’s my take if you are a host. Guests can find their list here. I’d love to hear from you about things that worked well & didn’t work well in other parties.

If you are the host:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare are the three big guiding principles for a successful gathering.
  2. Invite the guests well ahead of time so that their calendar issues are addressed. If you are hosting a big party, it may not be possible for everyone to attend. There may be something more important for some guests on a particular day. Just pick a day that works for most people and move on.
  3. If you are inviting more than one person, think about the commonalities between the people you are inviting. Did they all go to the same school? Do they belong to a particular association? Do they have similar likings? If they have nothing in common and they don’t know each other, they will be bored pretty soon.
  4. Also, are there guests who cannot stand each other? Can you host them on separate occasions? Though your event may not be a State dinner, it is important that you be considerate about your guests.
  5. Always have some starters and juices to offer to people within 10 mins of their arrival. You do not know how hungry they are & you don’t want to keep them waiting until the other guests arrive or dinner is served. Starters are just that – starters. Enough to delay the main course but not too filling. Quite often, hosts do not offer anything to drink or eat for about an hour after arrival. Not all guests may feel comfortable to walk into your kitchen and grab something to eat.
  6. Prepare the food ahead of time that way you can spend more time with the guests while they are at your place.
  7. Spend no more than 20 mins to heat the food and set the table while the guests are at your place. This requires that all your food is ready ahead of time. Sure, food right from the oven tastes much better than something cooked a couple of hours ago & reheated. But you are inviting people to spend time with them. If you toil your time in the kitchen, you have missed an excellent opportunity. Select your menu carefully so that it will still taste good when it is reheated.
  8. As the starters begin to decrease in quantity, gradually transition your guests to the main course. It is not uncommon to see the hosts delaying the main course by 2-3 hrs from the time the guests arrive. This can get too late in dinner parties because not everyone eats a very late dinner. Similarly if you invited people for lunch, serving lunch at 3 pm is late. Some guests may choose to make an excuse and leave so that they can eat outside and address their hunger.
  9. If your guests stay late after dinner, offer them some tea / coffee. This will keep the energy going. Also, starters can be brought out again at this time for snacks.
  10. For a BBQ party, cook one batch of everything just before your guests arrive. This ensures that they have food to eat while the next batch cooks. Some items take an hour to cook & you don’t want to leave your guests waiting that long.
  11. Always say only nice things to your guests. You want them to leave with a good feeling from your place. Why bother inviting them if you want to settle for anything less?
  12. If the guests include children, have some non-spicy food also in the menu.
  13. Always ask your guests to let you know ahead of time if they have any allergies.
  14. Always have at least one or two vegetarian options in the menu so that everyone has something to eat.
  15. Keep some toys, crayons, etc for the children to use.
  16. Unless it is a game night or a movie night, do not turn on the TV. If your TV shows are so important to you, then why should your guests rearrange their priorities to meet with you?
  17. If you plan to have some music in the party, keep it low volume so that guests don’t have to speak loud over it to be heard. After the initial icebreakers & when the party kicks pace, consider turning off the music.
  18. If any of your guests are drunk, consider not letting them drive.
  19. Be current with the news and keep a few conversation topics handy for icebreakers.
  20. If you have invited multiple guests who don’t know each other, introduce everyone as they arrive. This will warm them up to the room. Otherwise, they have to make their own connections and not everyone is comfortable with that. Soon, they may get bored with the party.
  21. Send a private thank you note to each of your guests and tell them how nice it was to host them.
  22. Do not clean the dishes or rearrange the food while your guests are still there. It can wait until all the guests leave. If you have OCD about this, tell your partner or someone you trust to remind you about this. If you want your house to be that clean that you should do this right away, why should your guests be spending time with you instead of cleaning their houses?
  23. If the guests are all from your spouse’s network, make an effort to get to know them a little better before the event. That gives you some conversation topics. Ask about their job, how they interacted your spouse, etc. If you are bored and don’t care to talk to them & start doing your own things, they will notice. It sends a pretty strong message and it may become hard to get in touch with them again.
  24. Travel & food are always good topics of conversation. People like good sense of humor. Stay away from racism, religion, and politics to some extent.
  25. If you have kids, ensure that they will be well behaved. Depending on the type of audience expected for the party, you may considering sending the kids to a baby sitter.
  26. If any guests request you to do something that you are not comfortable with such as turning on the TV game or they tamper with your things too much, be polite.

Social gatherings are a great way to get to know people, relax, and have fun. With some thought, preparation, and planning you can make the most out of it. Have fun.

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  1. […] list of things to do and not to do. So, here’s my take for guests. Hosts can find their list here. I’d love to hear from you about things that worked well & didn’t work well in […]

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