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Hostess Etiquette 101

Ooh French Country in Red: A pretty table setting from Dinner Party Wars

In an attempt to avoid time suckage, I choose to live in a television free zone.  Though having stayed at my mother’s place for a few days, I could not help but succumb to the home improvement shows on HGTV and fanciful cooking segments on Food Network.  I still quite enjoy Jamie Oliver’s lisp. 

One show in particular that had me intrigued was Dinner Party Wars, where three couples competed in a challenge to host the best dinner party.  Having been a hostess and a guest at many social gatherings, both exceptional and fall dead asleep boring, I could probably fill a novella with quips and useful advice.  With the holiday season fast upon us, I thought I could share some of these useful grains of wisdom with all of you.

Brush up on your social skills: Kate Spade Occasions

  • Guestlist, guestlist, guestlist – I once read a hilarious blurb in a book about seating people alternating funny-boring-funny-boring-etc  If it were up to me, there would be no boring!  But there is some truth to this statement that the personalities should mesh well.  When throwing an intimate dinner, the best ones have a good blend of friends and strangers who will hopefully connect on their commonalities – “Oh, you love red velvet cupcakes? OMG, me too!”  And ’tis the season for love connections.  Did you know that if you hook up 3 friends successfully, you get a green light straight to heaven?  You haven’t heard about this?  That’s because I made it up.    
  • Decorate Good Times –  I have had many themed parties – Japanese, French Wine & Cheese, Summer Al Fresco.  Even if you don’t go over the top with party decorations, a lush bouquet or some tealights helps to set the mood.
  • Greetings and salutations – A good hostess welcomes new guests into the fold by greeting, then taking around the new arrival to strangers.  A conversational starter is how they know each other and letting the individuals know if there something mutual between them ie. a similar career, a sport or activity, where they live, etc.  It’s always nice to leave a guest with few acquaintances at the party with a friend (co-hostess) who is very accomodating – this way, they never feel awk-ward. 
  • Feed the People –  Although it is not uncommon to start a dinner party late, you should have drinks, nibbles and appetizers ready for guests.  Even if you have special prepared warm appetizers, it won’t kill you to leave pretzels, nuts or chips on the tables.  They knew they were coming to a party so they have been saving their appetites.  For smaller gatherings, a fixed menu is manageable, however, for larger parties a buffet style may please more people’s palettes and food preferences. 

Dessert served up on these Natural World plates from Anthropologie. Bugs and grenouilles never looked so appetizing!

  • No Prohibition – Never let the drinks run dry.  Always top off glasses but offer water when you notice people crossing the line into OOC (out of control) territory. 
  • It’s a Party – Parties are meant to be enjoyed, by everyone including the hostess.  Let your guests get involved if they offer.  Allow them to bring out plates of food, refill wine glasses or help you put dishes into the dishwasher.  You should be giggling, clinking glasses and dancing too!  What’s the point of having a social if you’re going to be a party pooper and boil over like a stress pot?  A memorable party is one where everyone has a great time.  Remember, a happy hostess sets the tone. 

Careful now! Don't cry over spilled wine...unless it's red and your couch is white. Busted, so obsessed with Anthropologie.

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2 comments

1 Carly (@realgloss) { 11.16.10 at 4:39 pm }

Makes me want to host!

2 fuschiabird { 11.19.10 at 1:16 pm }

thanks for your comment carly! hostessing is a quintessential holiday activity ;)

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