Have your party and enjoy it too with these 5 hosting hacks.
Friday, November 5, 2021
Here are five of the biggest party-hosting missteps and how to avoid them for a stress-free celebration.
What’s the most important thing to do when hosting a party? Is it better to spend hours cooking or throw out some pizza rolls in the name of convenience? Stock a fancy bar cabinet or fill the cooler from the garage with ice and a variety pack of drinks? Clean the entire house or make sure your porch and entryway are decorated?
According to a study done by Joybird, talking about how stressful it was to plan the party is one of the worst faux pas you can make as a host. To avoid this mistake, keep it simple and focus on what matters most to you and your guests. In other words, work smarter, not harder. Here are five of the biggest party-hosting missteps and how to avoid them for a stress-free celebration.
Party Foul #1: Having a dirty house
In the Joybird survey, 40% of those asked said that having a dirty house was the biggest breach of party host etiquette. Don’t feel compelled to do a deep clean of every nook and cranny, though. Obviously, you can leave private areas – your bedroom, the laundry room – alone. But be strategic about the public spaces you clean, too.
Experts from Confused.com used eye-tracking technology to learn where people looked first in a room. In the kitchen, it was the floor, so definitely give that a scrub. Plants and art were toward the bottom of that list, so if you’re short on time, skip decorating the kitchen. In the living room, people looked at the coffee table the most and spent the most time gazing at decorative cushions. Remove magazines and other clutter that have collected on the table and plump up the pillows on your couch. If they’re stained, remove them for the night or spot clean them.
Not surprisingly, most people look at the bathroom mirror when they head to the loo. Tackle splatter without leaving streaks by pre-treating spots with a few dabs of rubbing alcohol before cleaning. If the mirror looks cloudy, mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar to clean. And if you’re sick of those little bits of lint left behind from your rag, switch to microfiber cloth.
Anything else you have time to clean is a bonus in our book. If the thought of not touching picture frames even a little bit still makes you nervous, give them a quick dusting. Just don’t fret over every little smudge. It’s likely that no one will ever notice.
Party Foul #2: Having a smelly house
Everyone’s home has a smell and chances are, you’ve gone nose blind to yours. In other words, you’ve grown so accustomed to your own scents – laundry detergent, pet odor, mold – that you no longer acknowledge them. But to someone just walking in the door, that could be the first thing that hits them.
If you have pets, do your best to vacuum, scrub and remove debris from high-traffic areas. Your pet’s high-traffic areas, that is. It could be your couch with their favorite cushion, the litter box (scoop it and take the waste out to the garage before guests arrive) or the basket full of their toys. If possible, remove the offending articles from the party zone until your guests leave.
Beyond getting rid of bad smells, there are plenty of ways to add welcoming smells to your home. When serving food at your party, be intentional about the smells it will create while cooking. Bake cookies right before a Christmas party or fire up the grill a little early for your cookout. “Spicy” scents like cinnamon also evoke fond holiday associations. Burn a candle or start a simmer pot of water and a few sticks of cinnamon for full effect.
Party Foul #3: Running out of food or drink
The second-worst hosting faux pas, according to Joybird, is running out of food and drink. Although not covered in the study, we think the appearance of low refreshments can also be a mood dampener. It’s like when everyone wants more pizza but nobody wants to be the one to take the last piece.
Restocking the buffet should be easy so you don’t neglect your guests. Keep a tray of pre-assembled snacks in the fridge so you can quickly swap them out when the first wave of finger sandwiches gets thin. If you have a bar cart, store extra bottles for the evening on a lower shelf. Don’t assume your guests will know they can help themselves out of the pantry or know where you keep more plates. Make your party food easy to find or convenient for you to grab while keeping conversations going.
A few of our other favorite hacks for not running out of refreshments:
- Tell guests what kind of refreshments to expect. We’ve all been invited to a party – baby showers, game nights, informal hangouts – that started near mealtime only to be confused if we should eat dinner before we go. Let guests know if you’re only serving hors d’oeuvres so they know to eat a meal beforehand and don’t gobble up all your reserves.
- Make it a potluck. If every guest or couple brings a dish to share, you increase the odds of having enough to go around. Plus, everyone will have something they like, regardless of whether they’re super picky, gluten-free, vegetarian, keto-friendly …
- Put a favorite delivery restaurant on speed dial. Sometimes your plans will be off or people bring their own guests who didn’t RSVP. For times when food is running low, prepare to order takeout in a hurry. Decide before the party what you’ll order so you’re not staring at menus in a panic.
- Designate a gopher. Similar to having Door Dash bring you refreshment reinforcements, tap a family member or friend whose co-hosting duties include emergency runs to restock unexpectedly low reserves of food, drinks or ice.
Party Foul #4: Not having everything ready when guests arrive
A small but significant number of Joybird’s respondents said that not having everything ready by the time guests arrive was a major party-hosting error. Make sure you plan and create a good timeline for all your tasks – cooking, cleaning, showering – so you can be ready at the first ring of the doorbell. You also don’t want to ignore your guests while you finish those jobs you forgot until the last minute.
Another good list to have on hand, days or even weeks before the gathering, is what to stock your guest room with if your party-goers are staying overnight. Start with these tips for how to make overnight holiday guests feel at home. With a good checklist, you’ll be able to purchase necessary items well in advance and you’re less likely to forget small but important details.
And in case you’re wondering, the Confused.com study found that bedding is the first thing people notice in bedrooms, followed by the chest of drawers and windows. Thoroughly wash the bed throw and bedspread to eliminate dust and musty odors, especially if you haven’t had guests in a while, and clear clutter from the dresser tops.
Party Foul #5: Lacking the party vibe
Interestingly, a lot of folks – from entertaining experts to Average Joes – say the first thing they notice when they enter someone else’s house is the feeling or mood. Ways you can improve the vibe for your next soiree is to focus on décor in general and lighting in particular. Set the tone for a game night with brighter lighting, or help people unwind for a relaxing dinner party with dimmers and soft bulbs. If you’re entertaining outside, remember that your natural light source could soon be setting. Don’t leave anyone out in the dark or stumbling over unseen obstacles in the yard. Get some tiki torches, twinkle lights or lanterns for a safe and enjoyable evening after the sun sets.
The coronavirus pandemic changed a lot about the way we host parties – who to invite, where we meet, what kinds of food we serve. As we begin to rekindle our holiday traditions, it’s important to keep some of those lessons in mind. Help everyone enjoy the season comfortably and safely with these tips for hosting guests during a pandemic.