Hosting family or close friends this holiday? Whether it’s a Thanksgiving get-together or a New Year’s Eve celebration, here are 6 tips to help you enjoy hosting a holiday party:
1. SET EXPECTATIONS
It is hard to host a party anyway, make it a little easier by telling your friends you could use some help. Now I understand not all parties are only for friends, on that note, I would suggest hiring a caterer and staff.
Otherwise, your friends want to have a good time too and you can get everyone involved, men and women. Make it a potluck, ask for tables, chairs, help setting up, take a poll to decide what the theme should be, etc. If people feel needed, they want to help. It makes everyone feel more important and less awkward showing up empty-handed if they are informed and involved.
Pro Tip:: Only invite your friends that have already been to your house so they all know where your bathroom is, where your trash is and that yes, you told your oldest child he could pretend to be a T-Rex and chase the other kids with a flashlight (guys, that was a joke, except that last part).
2. PLAN FOR THE WORST
Simply put, if kids are involved, make sure there are baby wipes in every direction regardless of age. Inside the house, in the playroom, in the bathroom, in the hallway on the way to the bathroom, outside, in the treehouse. You catch my drift. Thank me later.
Another possibility, 2 people that don’t like each other at your party. The worst right? No. Distract with conversation and a tour, request their assistance, or let’s toss all those cards out on the table in a separate room and go straight Dr. Phil on these fools. I do not actually suggest the latter, but sometimes I want to do that.
Smiling and having encouraging, positive interactions truly are the only ways to go. That should speak for itself, but trains can derail and so can conversations. Keep it light. Parties are no place for serious, Earth-shattering stories.
Pro Tip:: Reach out to people after the party, one-on-one, to finish those stories and you’ll be able to be more present.
3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Are kids going to be coming? Does everyone know each other? Will there be new people that have never been to your home before? (Make sure to tell them where the bathroom and the trash can is upon entering) What are the age differences? Are people coming straight from work? Will people be leaving early? Do people have to work the next day? Are there major events occurring, i.e. SEC football, Monday Night Football, any football, Bachelorette, Miss America Pageant, etc. What kind of music would they want to listen to? These are a lot of the questions I ask myself leading up to any party I host.
More recently, we threw a Friendsgiving that was held outside, moderately spread out with a few friends. We kept everyone, including ourselves at a safe distance outside without sharing spaces like chairs due to the current health environment.
4. IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MEAN SO LITTLE
Ahead of time, I always try to imagine what it’s like for a guest the moment they show up to our home or event. I also try to introduce the person I’m talking to to someone else at the party. Find a common ground for them to talk about. Remember, people love to talk about themselves. That always sparks a conversation. Everyone enjoys the evening if they know someone, kids included.
Kids are super easy to introduce to other kids. Prep yours beforehand if there will be new kids arriving. I try to let mine know the new kids’ names and how old they are. I always enjoy when everyone is included, but I understand that I cannot do it myself. Have unknowing soldiers that can pick up your slack.
5. DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN — SIKE!
Cliches aside, what I really mean is take a “hypothetical” chill pill and enjoy your night with the company you planned for. If you’re anything like me, you are talking with a guest and see someone lay a cold, sweating beverage down on your new outdoor table and you’re constantly looking back and forth from your conversation to the coasters sitting 12 inches from said drink. What do you do? There is nothing wrong with taking ownership in your things, but you must be careful not to come across too controlling to your guests.
You want them to feel at home, but deep down, really hoping that without words or a big show, they will USE A DAMN COASTER once they notice one miraculously appeared under their drink. How did that happen? HA.
6. AFTER ACTION REVIEW (AAR)
This is when I sit down with my significant other after everyone is gone and hash out what our favorite parts of the night were. What do you think could have gone better? Did we run out of anything? Do you think everyone had a good time? This is where I get to hear other people’s opinions of how they thought the night went, including our kids.
I ask all the questions. Was everybody nice? Who did you play with the most? What was your favorite dish? What did you all enjoy playing? This is the best kind of feedback to learn how to make the next shindig even better, for everyone.
Preparation is key. “Hostess with the Mostess” was not a phrase coined from someone throwing their first soiree. With experience, comes wisdom. You will certainly get there.
The worst part of AAR is realizing you did not have a full conversation with a guest because you were pulled in too many directions. Until further notice, just have fun. There can be a happy balance.
I know what you’re thinking. Seems like a lot of work on the front end and you would be correct. It really is a lot of forethought, but that is preparation for a smooth party. Now, go on and use these tips for your upcoming celebration! Cheers!