“In popular houses where visitors like to go again and again, there is always a happy combination of some attention on the part of the hostess and the perfect freedom of the guests to occupy their time as they choose.”
― Emily Post
Already knee deep into the traditional holiday season, one may be overcome by the thought of entertaining and hosting an affair of any sort of formality. Don’t fret as the combination of vittles and libations along with the combination of personalities in the room can make for a lively evening. I would like to share with you some successful tips learned from years of hosting and experiencing first hand the pitfalls that may come along with it. That being said, I have been known for the last minute pre-company freak out while holding a wine glass, putting appetizers in the oven while willing my mascara to magically attach to my lashes on its own. Either way, the show must go on!
I like to have a combination of delectable treats that can be made in advance so it allows more time and causes less pressure during those last minute menu changes. There is always something that needs to be prepped just prior to the event or even during. Come the big day, remember that you need some down time to regroup and get yourself party ready.
Things will like not go according to plan, so make the most of what does. If the flambé literally goes up in flames but burns everything to a crisp, whip out Plan B and roll with it. Plan B – ice cream, some cookies from the freezer or a nice dessert cocktail works to calm everyone’s nerves.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your guests is to delegate some small tasks. It frees up some time for yourself to mingle and your helpful guest will be glad to lend a hand and have a provided excuse to be busy with something else. Now I am not saying to rule the party with an iron fist, but if your guest offers to help with something, let them be a part of it.
Mix It Up –
We often get stuck in a social rut of the same dishes, same theme, same people, same conversations…. I think you know where this is going. Not being one to be pegged as loving beige, it is fun to mix it up. Introduce guests that may have something simple in common, but are on different sides in other areas. Try new dishes that will bring a delightful welcome to the evening but pushed you outside of your comfort zone.
Know Your Place –
Be gracious and open to make all your company comfortable. You are also a moderator if someone is not at ease or if the conversation takes a turn to the dark side. A bit of tact and cunning can be applied to defuse any situation. Remember you can control the movement of guest with a simple polite request for them to ‘help’ you in the kitchen. Who could question the host/hostess?
Last but not least – Have fun! If it didn’t go all as you thought it would. The recap of the night with those special someones will be worth them hanging around at the end. Another party war story can be added to the books.