Food from the Hart

Entertaining Etiquette: How to be a Larger than Life Host in a Smaller than Most Space

In Features on April 9, 2011 at 11:17 am

Remain Calm

I know I have mentioned this before, but it’s true. Your mood sets the tone of the party.  Take time to enjoy the guests you’ve invited and the work you put into crafting a beautiful party.  Your relaxed and joyous attitude will radiate to your guests, ultimately making the party a great success.

Be Warm and Welcoming

Make sure every person feels welcome and at home. Greet all arriving guests with a smile and a hug – even if this means excusing yourself from another conversation. If you are co-hosting the party, one person should be in charge of greeting guests at the door while the other works the room and tends to guests needs.

You’re the Glue

Circulate among your guests.  Provide introductions to newcomers, try to offer more detail than just, “Bob this is Jim”. Point out any commonalities or shared interests.  Make sure to stick around long enough to help the conversation get flowing and then gracefully make your exit.

Keep an Eye Out

Stay on the look out for guests that might need a refill.  On the same token, watch out for anyone who has had too much. Rescue others from long, boring conversations and draw shy guests out of the corner.  Most importantly try to spend time with all your guests so everyone feels involved.

Make a Toast

Even if you’re simply having a cocktail party, it’s still nice to kick off the evening by saying a few words.  Don’t feel you have to deliver a long diatribe, but welcome everyone to the party, thank the chef (if it wasn’t you) and certainly thank you guests for coming.  If you are celebrating a special event such as a birthday or anniversary make sure to mention it.  Toasting turns any ordinary party into an occasion and is a great way to connect with your guests.

You’re the Leader

As a host, it’s your job to invite guests to sit down, start eating, begin another course and give directive to when the meal is over.

Be Appreciative

This is the most important!  Make sure your guests know you appreciate their attendance and tell them how much you enjoy their company (even if you don’t). Don’t forget to send thank you notes to anyone who contributed or brought a gift. It might seem old fashion, but a personal note goes a long way.



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  1. I love these tips. The be a leader one is especially true. I hate when people are shy about eating. I’ve been cooking all day. I WANT them to eat. Usually, all they need is a little nudge.

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