Thanksgiving dinner, cocktail parties, Gift exchanges, cookies exchanges…the holiday entertaining season kicks off soon. Are you ready?
I know at times when throwing a party I’ve gone a bit overboard and ended up so busy during the party that I don’t have time to spend quality time with my guests. Or after the party, I”m just completely exhausted. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to simplify so that I can throw an amazing party and enjoy it myself.
Now that I’m divorced, it’s up to me to host solo. Not that my husband was much of a help but at least someone was available to answer the door or run an errand if needed. Whether your hosting solo or with a partner, a few tricks to simplify will add to a more enjoyable experience for you as the host and for your guests.
Here are my BEST entertaining tips so that YOU can enjoy your party
Simplify pre-party prep
Tip 1: Don’t wear yourself before the party even starts. Order store pickup to save time stocking up on party supplies
Tip 2: Keep your home stocked the for impromptu get-togethers. Drinks, snacks, and party supplies (napkins, cups, utensils). Always be prepared for guests and welcome them into your home without stress.
Tip 3: Hire house cleaners to get your home sparkly clean. Hire out as much as possible for your pre-party tasks so you can focus on more personalized details.
Don’t spend your party in the kitchen cooking
Tip 4: One of my favorite party tricks is to create a ‘build your own’ bar. Tacos, baked potato, sandwiches, over the top hot dogs, ice cream sundaes…. the ideas are endless. Not only is this fun for your guests, but easy as the host. Your guests do the work putting together their meal. Pre-prep the ingredients on serving platters and pull out when its time for guests to assemble and eat.
Tip 5: Create a cocktail bar and let guests be their own mixologists. Set out mixers and mixers. Fill a large ice bucket with ice. Place lemons, limes, and oranges in a bowl along with a cutting board with a knife and handheld juicer. Don’t forget straws and stir sticks. Use a chalkboard or a table-top easel to display a few simple recipes as a guide for your guests.
Tip 6: Purchase prepared food or ordering catering and leave the cooking to someone else.
Tip 7: Serve food that can all be prepped ahead of time and kept warm in chafing dishes or a slow cooker. Soups, stews, taco meat, meatballs are all dishes that make entertaining simple.
Set the space up so everything runs smoothly
Tip 8: Place several large trashcans through your home. My kitchen trash can is very small and fits under my sink – perfect for daily use in our home. But for a party, it would be hard for our guests to find and overflowing. I have large trash cans that I store I store in the garage and bring in to use when entertaining. If your guests can easily spot where to toss their trash, they will take care of their plates and cups instead of leaving them stacked on tables and kitchen counters reducing your post-party cleanup.
Tip 9: Stock the bathroom. Have plenty of extra toilet paper as backup in a visible spot so that guests can replace without having to bother you. A box of tissues and paper hand towels so that guests will have whatever they need. For the extra touch fill a basket with mints, hand lotion and first aid kit.
Tip 10: Create a sign to welcome your guests and instruct themselves to let themselves in. This will eliminate the need to be worried about hearing the doorbell and constantly opening the door.
Tip 11: Have an obvious drop spot for jackets and purses so guests can put down their things and start enjoying the festivities.
Tip 12: Make signs for the bathroom so guests can easily find it. If you are hosting a large number of guests, designate a second bathroom as a backup and make signs to instruct guests to the location. Years ago I added vinyl bathroom symbols to my bathroom for a bit of whimsy but its also great for when guests are over as it can be confusing which door is the bathroom and not my office or storage closet.
Tip 13: Create a party playlist ahead of time so that music is all set. Or ask a friend to serve as DJ and make sure appropriate music is always playing.
Tip 14: when friends ask how they can help, give them a task. The most useful thing I’ve learned is when someone asks, I delegate them to pick up ice. That always seems to be the one things I’m running out to get before a party.
Add a few extra touches
Tip 15: A simple gesture, give your guests a bottle of water as a parting gift. With all the craziness (and more drinking than normal), staying hydrated is essential to feeling good and staying healthy. Send your guests home with a bottle of water for the road. Set up a tub of chilled water near the door so they can help themselves. Your guests will appreciate the caring gesture.