Family & Education

How to Be a Perfect Host or Hostess

As the host or hostess of any gathering, you're responsible for ensuring that everyone enjoys themselves
TIMENovember 26, 2021

Parties are supposed to be fun, but hosting any type of gathering can be stressful. To make sure you enjoy the party, too, your Polite Society guide has a few pointers to make it easy.

Start Early so You Can Enjoy the Party

As the host or hostess, it’s OK for you to enjoy the gathering, too. The best way to ensure that, says Melissa Ringstaff of A Virtuous Woman blog, is to finish the preparations long before your guests arrive. Start by deciding what you need to do to make your home ready, such as bringing in more chairs or moving childrens’ toys. Plan the menu of snacks or dinner several days in advance to allow time to shop and cook.

Make Everyone Feel Welcome

It’s likely many of the guests aren’t frequent visitors to your home, so make an extra effort to welcome them, show them around, and make them feel at home. Ask about food preferences and allergies; it’s a safe bet Emily Post would advise against sending a guest with peanut allergies to the ER. Pay attention to guests who may be shy, making time to give them your undivided attention and introducing them to others.

Mi Casa, Su Casa

The role of a host or hostess is to ensure your guests are enjoying themselves. Offer a drink or snack when they arrive and let them know they can help themselves to refills. The rule of thumb is to put yourself in their shoes to make sure you’d be a happy guest. That said, be firm if you need to cut off the alcohol and/or call a cab for a guest who is over-enjoying.

Let Them Help

No matter how hard you work to get everything ready ahead of time, there will always be a few tasks left undone when the doorbell rings. If your guests offer to help, let them; they can bring plates from the kitchen or pour the wine. If some of the guests are family or close friends, it’s also OK to let them help clean up after the party as long as you take care of the bulk of it.

Every Party Must Eventually End

When you extend the invitation, in addition to telling your guests when to arrive, it’s OK to also advise when you expect to wrap things up. For dinner parties, the rule of thumb is guests can leave 30 minutes or so after dessert is served. For more casual affairs or for those you know will have babysitters at home, set an end time. But if everyone is having a great time, the party may go on till the wee hours.

Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.