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The subtle art of hosting

The subtle art of hosting

  16 November 2016

Winter has come (and almost gone) which means spending more time with the people we love. Here’s a guide on how to be the host that makes guests want to keep coming back.

Hanging out with friends and family is a great way to enjoy the warmer days that we’ve all been waiting for. Add some good food and drinks and you’ve got the perfect set-up for events to last you all the way through to the next chilly season. Being a good host, however, takes a bit more work than just inviting some people over. So to make sure that your hosting skills are up to par, we have a few handy tips to make hosting not only a breeze for you, but also a real treat for your guests.

Perfect the setting

Creating the perfect setting for your guests, simply means using what you have to make the visit to your place enjoyable.

Make sure you have enough cutlery, crockery and glasses so that everyone is covered. If you can, provide two glasses for every guest. Glasses must sparkle and be located in a place where your guests can easily reach them without having to discover where you keep your tomato sauce.

  • Small details, such as swapping paper towels for real napkins, add a nice touch and make your guests feel pampered. The same goes for having fresh cut flowers around the house, ensuring there is ample toilet paper on hand so no one has to ask for it and adding some candles to the table if it is a dinner party. Attention to detail is the marking of a fine hostess.
  • Nothing says it’s time to socialise quite like music does. Play some music in the background – it will instantly relax everyone. Make sure to keep it low enough for guests to be able to chat easily and without having to shout.
  • Everything must be spotless. This is a sign of respect for your guests. Make sure the toilet is clean, none of your bras are lying around and that the kids’ toys are not going to trip guests up throughout the house.
  • Anticipate your guests’ needs. Put out the salt and pepper, have toothpicks around and make a small bowl of chopped chilli for the table. All of this cuts down on any requests because you have already thought of it all.

Food, glorious food

We all know that food can make or break a party so you can never underestimate its importance. Whether you’re cooking or ordering in for your guests, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Start preparing earlier than you think is necessary. It’s better to be the host who has 30 minutes to enjoy a glass of chardonnay before the guests arrive than to be the one who is greeting guests in between sprints to the kitchen.
  • Make sure your guests always have something to nibble on. Place bowls of snacks in convenient places where the crowds are bound to gather and make sure they stay topped up. This doesn’t have to be stressful for you as the host, just make sure you stock up on foods like roasted nuts, chips, dips and fruit platters.
  • The guest is king. It doesn’t matter that you’ve gone gluten free, make sure that there is a variety to ensure that everyone is catered for. With that said, don’t obsess over every guest’s dietary needs; it’s your home, not the Four Seasons Hotel.
  • While food preparations are a primary concern, it is also important to make sure you are done cooking when your guests arrive. Part of being a great hostess is being able to mingle with the guests instead of hiding out in the kitchen all day.
  • Whether it’s a three-course dinner or a pizza-and-beer night you’re hosting, presentation is key. Make sure your food looks good and that it’s warm – just these two things will make most guests happy.

Mixed bag of tricks

Don’t rely too heavily on your guests. Just because someone said they would bring the ice doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an extra stash just in case.

  • Running out of alcohol is a quick way to put a dampener on a happy occasion. Make sure you are well stocked and have a variety of drinks on offer too.
  • Keep an eye on your guests’ drinks. Top up wine as needed, get another bottle of beer when you see that Tom’s is almost finished. That attention to detail will make your guests feel special.
  • If you are hosting a sit-down dinner for more than eight guests, then seating is important. Name cards can help make sure that people are seated in a way that will make the night more festive. If you are going informal, make sure there is still enough seating so that people don’t have to stand around.
  • Relax and have fun. This will give your guests the permission to do the same. After all, hosting is meant to be fun, so go out there and have a good time.