October 8, 2010

Tip of the day—Tips for the Host or Hostess

Yesterday, I told you about how I use timelines for events that I plan.  I use these for events with more than 300 and smaller dinners at our home that might only have 6 people attending.  Today, I’m including some other tips about being a host or hostess for these events.

A couple of tips I’ve learned—

Ina Garten/ Barefoot Contessa, recommends letting your guests help you when entertaining in your home.  Obviously this won’t work for a fundraiser or large event, but for smaller and more intimate affairs it works great.  You’ll have a sense of who does and doesn’t want to help—hint, they’ll ask you, “What can I do?”  I usually have a few smaller tasks ready for that answer—pouring drinks, plating appetizers, etc.  If you know someone is coming who is shy, it provides him/her with a job to ease into conversation with others. 

Reluctant Entertainer suggests to avoid apologizing.  “I’m sorry the house is a wreck.”  “I’m sorry I don’t have the drinks ready.”  “I’m sorry that the roast is a little dry.”  DON’T do it.  I find this so difficult and if I don’t watch it will be apologizing about stuff that my guests aren’t even noticing yet.  When you bring attention to something that really isn’t that big it does two things.  It makes everyone take notice, and it makes people feel like they have to take care of you.  They have to respond in some way that will make you feel better.  Instead, just don’t apologize.  “We’re so glad you came—this is a great way to end a busy week.” “Can you help me pour the drinks?  I have a yummy spiced tea and a mulled cider for guests to choose from.”  “Would you like some extra gravy for your roast?” 

If inviting people from different groups of friends or people you may not know as well, think up conversation starters before the get together.  John and Bob both bike on trails.  Jill and June both work with kids.  People like to talk about themselves and what is going on in their lives.  Open ended questions tend to generate the most response.

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