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).

Planning
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:
http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/11/27/824772/20-party-dos-and-donts.html
http://www.suite101.com/content/how-to-throw-the-best-party-a15701
http://www.oprah.com/food/The-Holiday-Etiquette-Quiz

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November 27, 2010. Entertainment. Leave a comment.

Clothing Swap

Ok…so this blog is called goodies and guests but all of my posts up till this point have been on the “goodies” side of life. Here’s one for the “guests” side of things…

So I don’t know about you, but in my closet, at any given time, I have a bunch of clothes that either no longer fit or that I bought THINKING I would love but in reality I’ve rarely worn.

Well I got to thinking that I should pull all my girl friends together and everyone should get together and bring those unwanted, but still totally wearable clothes and we should swap them because for someone else they might be a perfect match. I requested that all the clothes be freshly washed and unstained and something they thought others might really enjoy.

Here are the steps to make it happen:

Step 1: You, as the host choose a date and time and send out invitations (I did this via Facebook). Let people know the idea and be sure to let them know this isn’t confined to clothes only, they can bring anything they would feel other girls might like. NOTE: if you are inviting some people that are pretty outspoken or like to speak their mind, it might be a good idea to remind people that all the clothes being brought were at one time purchased by someone present and not to comment on clothes that they think are ugly…hey, we’re all girls here and some of us can be a little sensitive. You don’t want anyone walking away with hurt feelings.

Ideas of stuff to bring…
Accessories
Necklaces
Rings
Purses
Back Packs
Sunglasses
Earrings
Bracelets
Shoes

Scarfs

Belts
Hats
Skirts
Dresses
Winter Coats
Band Shirts
Knee High Socks
Halloween Costumes
Wigs

Step 2: Plan on a few refreshment, whether that’s you providing them all or asking everyone to bring something little. I decided that I would provide watermelon mojitos for everyone, which were a big hit!

Step 3: This is where you have to be creative. On the day of the clothing swap, set up your house in such a way that facilitates a ton of clothes to be viewed in an easy way. I was able to take one of the round bars from my closet and prop it up on a shelving unit so dresses and such could be hung up.  Next I cleared off my dining room table so everyone could put their t-shirts and tank tops on it and shoes underneath. I think it’s important to have some place for clothes to be hung up because it really makes your house feel like a little boutique. I also brought my full length mirror out of my bedroom so people could try things on and know what they looked like. Be sure to put out bags for people to put the clothes they choose to take home in.

Step 4: When everyone arrives at your house, have everyone put their clothes in the designated places. Then have the first hour or so be where everyone chit-chats, eats, looks at and  tries on clothes.

Step 5: After everyone has had a chance to look at things and scope out what they want, count up the number of guests there and get that many little pieces of paper (if there are 12 guests, get 12 pieces of paper) and number each paper 1-whatever and put those pieces in a hat. Have each girl take a number and that will be the order in which girls pick the clothes they want (kind of like a white elephant gift exchange or the NFL draft). Start with #1 and have that girl choose one item, then #2 and so forth. We didn’t allow “stealing” like a white elephant gift exchange and I think it worked best that way (remember…all girls here). Keep going around and around until there are no more clothes left that people want.

To be honest, we only went around the room 3 or 4 times and people got the clothes they really wanted then it was a free-for-all. This worked well in our case and I think you just need to feel it out and see how it goes.

Step 6: It is your responsibility as the host to figure out what to do with the leftover clothes. I found an organization that helps out single mothers and donated it to them but the goodwill is another fine option. I don’t recommend throwing the clothes away because they are perfectly good clothes and someone will really love them. Also, DO NOT…for the sake of everyone else in your house/apartment, put them away in the garage or storage. You’ll deeply regret it if you don’t take care of the clothes the next day or it’ll hang over your head like a bad headache. Also, don’t put them in the trunk of your car and forget about it…you’ll regret that the next time you pick someone up from the airport. If you know that you will forget to do it, delegate someone else at the clothing swap to do it.

This was a huge success when I did it and not only was it a fun time for girls to hang out and talk but also a chance to get some “new” clothes for free. Win-win-win. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment.

July 30, 2010. Entertainment. 1 comment.