Party Hosting DOs and DON’Ts

The holidays are fast approaching and I’m sure a lot of us are going to parties and some of us are even going to throw one or two ourselves. Here is a list of DOs and DON’Ts that I compiled from various different websites. These rules are not set in stone but they are a good guideline. A party can be whatever we choose to make it but I think the desire for every host is for their guests to leave happy and satisfied (and for us not to be too worn out at the end of it).

1. DO make sure people know exactly who is invited. Are their children welcome? Don’t be vague and don’t leave anything up to interpretation.

2. DON’T be afraid to throw a party because you think it will cost too much. You can have a good time for $10 with a bottle of wine and a bag of nuts.

3. DON’T take yourself too seriously. Anything goes these days with your table decor and menu, so have fun.

4. DO plan wisely for amounts. An hors d’oeuvre party should have 10-15 appetizers per person. At a dinner party, have 3-5 appetizers per person.

5. DO keep hors d’oeuvres to one bite. No one wants to talk … with a mouthful.

6. Always include the single friend or extra surprise guest, even if it’s 13 at your table. You can always make room. DO be flexible.

7. DO have a party plan to space out your tasks and stick to it. Two days before your party clean your house, plan your menu, make a detailed shopping list, and shop for everything. The day before the party, make all the food and assemble dishes. The day of the party, run the vacuum and start putting food out.

8. DO buy a pad of sticky notes and write everything down that you need to do. Stick them all around the kitchen. When you finish a task, take down that note.

9. DO have enough of everything on hand. Nothing worse than running out toilet paper and having a guest yell from the bathroom for some.

10.  DO Remember to get something to throw away cups and cans in. With a bunch of people in one place you don’t wanna have to leave a ton of unneeded trash around.

11.  DO try not to have everything done when the guests arrive so that people can pitch in and help in the kitchen. It’s a great icebreaker.

12.  DO Have a stock pile of paper towels and toilet paper ready. Nuff said.
The House
13. DO always start with an empty dishwasher.

14.  DO put lamps on your buffet or server. We all look better with light on our faces.

15.  DO put individual guest napkins in the powder room (prevents yucky overused guest towels). And a soap pump (no gooey soaps).

16.  DO light up the backyard so there won’t be a big black hole outside your windows.

17.  DON’T let your pets get in the way. Put the dog, cat – and if children are not invited – your own children away for the party.

18.  Flowers are overused as centerpieces. DO use seasonal fruit, a tureen or an interesting sculptural centerpiece.

19.  DO use everyday items you have around the house for serving. Put breadsticks in a vase, use a basket for crackers, place a glass plate on top of a drinking glass and you have a pedestal serving plate. Stack books under the tablecloth for a tiered effect, placing food at different levels on the table.

20.  DON’T use your party to impress your guests with how beautiful your house is. Rather, change it to make it party-friendly, not a showcase.

21.  Ever notice how guests gather in the kitchen? DO place a bar somewhere in the corner of your living room to create a few different conversation spots.
The Food and Drinks
22.  When planning the menu, DON’T try to please every person with every dish. Just because one person is a vegetarian doesn’t mean you can’t include meat in your menu.

23.  DO have plenty of beverages. Serve each guest their first drink and then let them know how to help themselves after that.

24.  Let guests make their own cocktails. I have a few favorite recipes on cards, and all the ingredients on hand. People mix and shake and think it’s super-fun.

25.  DON’T spend the entire party serving your guests. You’re a host, not a waiter.

26.  DON’T use your party guests as guinea pigs: If you’re trying out a new recipe, make it ahead of time to see if it’ll work. Leave nothing to chance.

27.  If kids are included in your party, DO make sure to have some kid friendly food and drinks.

28.  DON’T wait for late guests. People resent being hungry.

29.  DON’T feel obligated to serve food or wine gifts that are handed to you as a guest walks in the door. It may not fit with your menu and you may not want to take the time to prepare it for serving.

30.  Never, never, NEVER run out of ice.

31.  DON’T tidy up the table too soon after people eat. Once the plates are cleared away, often so is the mood.
Setting the Mood
32.  DO create a music playlist that’s ready to begin as soon as the doorbell rings.

33.  DO keep music just loud enough so that people have to talk above it slightly.

34.  Atmosphere is half the battle. DO create a comfortable, pleasant atmosphere with soft lighting. Dim the lights and use candles.

35.  DO remember: The host’s mood sets the tone.

36.  DO have a stiff drink before anyone arrives (If appropriate for the event). If you are having fun, everyone will have fun

37.  DO place people with big personalities in the center of the table. They can help carry the conversation.

38.  As a host, DON’T sit at the head of the table – it’s presumptuous and archaic.

39.  DON’T overreact if someone spills food or a drink. So what? Do a quick wipe up and get back to the party. You can tackle it later.

40.  In case of an entertaining crisis, DO take a deep breath. If a guest accidentally breaks something, regardless of value, simply say, ‘Thank you. I’ve been looking for a reason to replace that old thing.

41.  If you’re throwing a cocktail party, DO have fewer chairs than people. This will force your guests to circulate and mingle the good old-fashioned way.

42.  DON’T make it feel formal. It’s such a snooze.
Note to guests:
43.  DON’T arrive empty handed. A bottle of wine or a handwritten thank you card are perfect.

44.  DO arrive on time.

45.  If you are sending flowers as a thank-you, DON’T send them the same day as the dinner. Much better to send two days before or two days after.

46.  DO turn off cell phones.

47.  DON’T leave without saying good-bye to and thanking the host.

48.  DON’T invite extra people to the party. It’s rude.

49.  DON’T go into room with a closed door. It’s closed for a reason.

And Finally:

50.  DON’T let friends drink and drive.

Compiled from:


November 27, 2010. Entertainment.

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