I so enjoy hosting.
It doesn’t matter what the occasion or guest list looks like! Let me have people over and the hostess inside me screams for joy!
I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting a Bridal Shower for one of my best friends. Honestly, it was a HUGE success! Myself and Alaina (another Bridesmaid who helped plan and host the shower with me) were flooded with kind compliments which we were so humbled by! After posting pictures on my Instagram showing some of our decorations and food design I received messages and comments asking for some hosting hacks!
As requested; here are some simple tips to help you plan and successfully throw your next gathering!
Food will always be one of the biggest parts of any gathering. Regardless of the amount of people coming, I recommend always having an even selection between sweet and savoury. If you have dramatically more sweets people may not eat as much since all that sugar can weigh down in the belly! However a significantly larger amount of savoury foods (i.e. meat, cheese, breads, etc) may cause your sweets selection to go sooner and leave your guests with only rich savouries to enjoy as your party continues. When you have a balance of sweet and savoury, you can supply your guests with an even amount of food selection that will last longer. As a side note, I incorporate this “hack” every time I host and if I do have food left over, the ratio of sweet to savoury is very even.
Don’t forget to be courteous to different food intolerances and allergies even when you don’t know if any of your guests have them. If someone has a deadly allergy, they will probably inform you prior to. However some people are just intolerant to certain foods and won’t make a hassle over letting you know. You can almost guarantee that there will probably be at least one person at your gathering who is sensitive to a food type. In this case, do your best to provide some options that are either dairy free, gluten free, etcetera.
This can sound intimidating if you don’t usually cater to people with food intolerances, but I have found it super easy! If you are supplying different types of cheese, opt one out for a dairy free selection! Crackers or bread? Simply supply one alternative option for each. Have a delicious cupcake recipe? Exchange your normal flour for gluten free flour! And keep icing on the side just incase someone is sensitive to dairy (unless you decide to make a dairy free icing).
When I hosted the Bridal Shower we were expecting over 20 people! Not that big of a deal when your house is an actual house! However we are currently in a (beautiful) basement suite so having over 20 people come sounded a bit tight. But I realized that by moving things around and taking other items out of our main area it would really help to open the space up. Our dining table was moved against the wall, coffee table moved into the hallway, and we even put our TV in Bev’s room! Just by doing those small things it helped open the room so much that over 20 people didn’t feel tight at all!
Sometimes people can feel uncomfortable moving about in a small space that has multiple “obstacles”. Push those “obstacles” to the side or into another room entirely and your guests will feel more comfortable with moving around!
Give Guests the Run-Down
If any of your guests are coming into your home for the first time, let them know the little details as they walk in the door. Tell them where they can find the bathroom – I leave the bathroom light on and the door open so that guests can easily find it. Let them know if they can dig into the food and drinks yet or if it’s “almost ready”. Ask if you can grab a drink/inform them where the drinks are and to “help themselves”. Often time your guests may be nervous or overly polite so they will refrain from asking about food and drink or even where the bathroom is! If you give them the run-down of those little details they will no doubt feel much more comfortable!
A BIG one is to let your guests know if they can keep their shoes on or not. Some people assume they can leave their shoes on, and others always take them off! Let them know when they come in the door that they can “leave your shoes on!” / “take your shoes off and come on in!” / “feel free to leave your shoes on but please refrain from stepping on the carpet!”. Remember, it’s your home and if you aren’t comfortable with guests keeping their shoes on it is your right to politely request they take them off.
Sometimes keeping a conversation going (or starting one) can be difficult if you don’t prepare yourself for it. As the host, people may look to you to keep the talking going. Prior to the gathering think of random topics or questions you can ask or bring up! It sounds silly but you may need the head-start at some point and boy will you be thankful for that conversational list in your head!
Don’t just think about your plans for the gathering. Write them down. Make a “master list” with all the details of your get together. Have “day before” and “day of” sections on your list. And don’t forget the grocery list! This list should be your best friend. It will help you stay organized! For example, my master list looks similar to this:
Two days before:
- Clean floors
- Wash the bathroom
- Double check grocery list
One day before:
- Go grocery shopping
*list of groceries needed*
- Pickup fresh flowers
- Make playlist for background music
- Prep what foods you can
- Re-organize furniture
- Finish making food
- Quick sweep of floors
- Quick bathroom wipe over
- Have coffee ready just before guest ETA
- Put on real clothes
Start making your master list a week before your party so that if you remember something that needs to get done you can add it to your list.
Be sure to check things off as you finish them. When I hosted the shower it was so nice going to bed the night before because I knew everything on my master list for “one day before” was all checked off! There was nothing left to do until the next day so I could enjoy some much needed relaxation.
Clean Two Days Before
Believe me, you will be so happy that you did a detailed clean two days before your party! There are so many errands and last minute details to get done the day before your gathering that having all the cleaning to get done too will stress you out!
Two days before your gathering, do it all! Laundry, floors, dusting, bathroom cleaning, etcetera. That way when you wake up on the day of your party, the only thing you will need to do is maybe a quick sweep and just wipe the bathroom over! Easy peasy!
Make it Easy
The last thing you want is to have a lot of unnecessary difficulty before, during, and after your get together. Can you make mini cupcakes? Yes. Do you already have a huge list of things to get done? Yes. Can you buy those cupcakes somewhere else instead? Yes. Buy the mini cupcakes instead. You have barely enough eating utensils for everyone and will need to make sure every piece is washed and unused before guests arrive? Can you spend a couple bucks on fake eating utensils instead so that you can eat breakfast and lunch with ease and also not have tons of utensils at the end of the night to wash? Yes. Buy the fake utensils. Buy the paper plates. Buy the pre-cut cheese. Buy the pre-assorted veggie platter! It’ll save you so much stress. Hosting can be so fun if you don’t let it affect you negatively by getting stressed. Avoid making extra work for yourself wherever you can!
Don’t Get Stressed
This is by far the most important piece of advice I can give you.
Being stressed about hosting will ruin the experience for you and drive your family nuts because they have to deal with your stress too. Also, your guests will know if you are losing your mind.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes stuff happens. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it may make for a good story! As an example, the big balloons I had filled with helium for the bridal shower were not floating at all by the morning of the event. I had them filled the day before and was assured they would stay floating for at least a couple days. Well. They didn’t. These balloons were supposed to be a big part of the decor and they were not in good shape. I decided to tape them to the wall instead! However the tape wasn’t working at all because it wasn’t “heavy duty” enough! Thankfully I borrowed some electrical tape from my brother-in-law and managed to keep them stuck against the wall for the whole shower (apart from one falling but being quickly placed back on the wall). It could have been really frustrating morning, but if the balloons weren’t gonna fly like I wanted there was nothing I could have done about it! Thankfully I managed to make it look like they were floating AND I didn’t lose my mind!
Hosting can be the most fun you’ve ever had! Don’t let stress ruin that for you. If you feel that you are starting to lose it, take a step back, grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and remember it’s not the end of the world. No one will notice if the food is 10 minutes late, or if you decided last minute to throw the artichoke dip because it got burnt. They will notice if you as the host are having a good relaxed time!
Don’t forget to enjoy the party! After all that planning and prepping you deserve it!