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HOSTING MISTAKES: 8 Things To Avoid For Your Next Gathering So Everyone Can Have A Great Time (Including You)

Unfortunately, I think we are all a little out of practice when it comes to hosting parties. Last year for example, my fiancé and I started our own holiday tradition by celebrating our “Christmas” the Sunday before actual Christmas because the holidays were especially bleak with few social interactions. Well, this year we are toying with the idea of hosting some friends over for this new tradition of ours and “out of practice” is a bit of an understatement. How much food should we make?? How should we decorate? What does hosting even look like nowadays?? It’s a little overwhelming but luckily, EHD has years of holiday hosting posts full of practical advice. After discussing with Emily and the team, we came up with 8 hosting mistakes to avoid so you can have a successful party and actually enjoy it. Let’s begin:

“Too High” Centerpieces

photo by sara ligorria tramp | from: how to create a casual, affordable and beautiful holiday tablescape (all with target)

We love a centerpiece (seriously, they are an EHD tablescape staple) but one that is too high and bulky is not ideal for a dinner party. You want your guests to be able to see each other and make conversation without craning their necks, so opt for a shorter vase and minimal floral arrangements. A good rule of thumb is to keep the arrangement below your eye level and don’t overcrowd the table with too many centerpieces.

Not Having Place Cards

This personal touch lets your guests know you care and that you put effort into making them feel welcome. It gives off a VIP, “special guest” vibe and is very cute, too. The above name cards were a simple DIY made with inexpensive glass ornaments, a sprig of eucalyptus stuffed inside, and then wooden gift tags with the name of each person written on it. We’ll even give ya extra bonus points if you make the name tags a sweet gift your guests can take home.

Relax The Rules – Don’t Make Your Guests Take Off Their Shoes (But With An Important Exception)

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | styled by emily bowser and erik kenneth staalberg | from: how sara created her first traditional but youthful christmas (with all target)

We completely understand that asking your guests to take off their shoes when they enter your home can be cultural and important. In that case, disregard this one. But if that’s not the case, and it’s more that you’re simply worried about your floors getting dirtier, maybe bend the rules and let your guests show off their party outfit head to toe. 

Make Sure Your Bathroom Is Stocked

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | design by emily bowser | from: moto reveal: emily bowser’s 32-square-foot bathroom

Make sure extra toilet paper rolls are in sight so your guests don’t have to rummage through cabinets or god forbid, be left scared, alone, and TP-less. Matches and candles are also a nice touch because well, you know, and a few hand towels available for drying hands is a must.

Avoid The Bottleneck

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: how we decked our halls for christmas

The best way to create a good flow and avoid “bottlenecking” is to designate several drink/snack stations. Use your best judgment depending on the space and number of guests, but at least two stations are key. Another hack is to leave out snacks in the spaces where you’d prefer people to sit and mingle. This is also a great option if you want to keep guests outdoors and 6 feet apart 🙂

Prebatched Drinks

photos by sara ligorria-tramp | design by jess bunge | from: how to have a great holiday cocktail party in a tiny apartment

Having a drink-making station can be fun, but it can also turn out to be messy and a bit unpredictable. In fact, guests probably don’t want to make their own drinks per se, especially if you have a great-tasting cocktail ready to go. Pre-batched drinks are super easy and are one less thing you or your guests have to think about.

Have A Playlist Ready

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | design by arlyn hernandez | from: arlyn’s warm (& sort of last-minute diyed) holiday reveal

The pre-made playlist is such a good party hack and yet one that is often forgotten about or overlooked. Unless you are an actual DJ, spending the evening trying to think of what song should go on next is exhausting. Avoid that anxiety altogether behaving a playlist ready to go beforehand so neither you or your guests have to think about anything besides having a great time.

Make Sure There’s Something Other Than Booze & Water For Those Who Don’t Drink

photos by sara ligorria-tramp | design by jess bunge | from: how to have a great holiday cocktail party in a tiny apartment

My fiancé is sober and 99% of the time when we go to a party the only nonalcoholic drink available is water. It is a huge letdown (he typically brings his own because it’s bound to happen), and usually means my fiancé and I will be leaving the party earlier rather than later. Don’t get me wrong, water is great! We love water, but it’s not a ~fun~ drink and caffeine is a nice option when you are not getting tipsy. Great nonalcoholic options are diet soda, La Croix or sparkling water, and fresh coffee. All the DDs and sober folks will thank you. Oh, and if you are throwing a non-dinner party, don’t forget snacks. Even a bowl of chips and dip is great because while drinkers might not be hungry (due to the calories in alcohol), the nondrinkers usually are.

Okay sweet friends and party people, I hope these tips will help you host your best holiday party yet! In fact, we’d love to see your holiday festivities so please tag us on Instagram with #ShowEmYourHoliday. Cheers! xx

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria Tramp | From: How to Create a Casual, Affordable and Beautiful Holiday Tablescape (All With Target)

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Sarah Lovinger, MD
1 month ago

Emily and team–Not everyone celebrates Christmas. I am Jewish, my husband is Jewish and our daughter is Jewish. We celebrate Hanukkah. I feel left out of your post on holidays because it’s so exclusive and only references Christmas decor. Please become more inclusive in the future. Thank you.

Lou
1 month ago

https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/hanukkah-decorating-ideas-2020

https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/seriously-beautiful-seder-plate-ideas

I remembered these posts because I thought they were so lovely at the time. I think the team try and be as inclusive as they can be but perhaps it would be difficult to cover lots of different beliefs/religions in one post? Happy Holidays to you and your family : )

Sarah Lovinger, MD
1 month ago
Reply to  Lou

Thank you! I wish you a happy holiday season.

Caity
1 month ago

Hi Sarah,
I totally feel you but as the team members seem to be culturally (or religiously Christian) maybe it would feel disingenuous to do all Hannukah decor. Maybe they could partner with a Jewish blogger to show some tips? I mean, you don’t see them doing posts about decorating for Eid or Ramadan because that just might not be their audience. I myself am Baha’i but I do fall and winter style decorating and I love seeing their Christmas looks. When I need Baha’i Holy day decorating inspiration I go to Baha’i bloggers or friends for inspiration. I don’t personally feel that Emily’s blog is being exclusive by not showing that content, because that is not her culture/religion. Friends cannot be all things to all people, nor should bloggers, IMHO.

Sarah Lovinger, MD
1 month ago
Reply to  Caity

Caity,
I agree that most bloggers focus on Christmas to the exclusion of all other religious traditions, not just Judaism. I really like Emily’s vibe and expected a little more from her this time, such as a photo of a menorah or a photo of another item important Buddhism or the Bahai faith. I wish you happy holidays.

1 month ago
Reply to  Caity

Beautifully said, Caity. Thank you.

Elizabeth
1 month ago

I grew up celebrating Christmas, but quit decorating for it when my children left home. The effort just isn’t worth it to me. Dragging it all out, putting other stuff away, putting it up, taking it down, storing it, bringing back out the regular stuff that had to be stashed to make room. The first year I didn’t decorate was such freedom and stress free. And now “the holiday season” it is being pushed on us even before halloween.

Sarah Lovinger, MD
1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Very true! I live in Chicago, so I need some winter decorations to cheer me up during our long, dark winters, but the decor does not need to be linked to one holiday or another. I wish you a happy holiday season.

1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

i dont have children and while i enjoy decorations i’m not a fan of storing a bunch of things for one month of the year. my MIL always gets a giant tree and i tag along to grab some branches. stick them in a bottle and i have a tiny tree for my tiny box of cute ‘decorations’ (mostly knick knacks i’ve collected traveling). i love it/more here: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2018/12/0021-merry-green-holiday-season.html
on non-alcoholic drinks: i decided to have a sober summer years ago and it’s true the lack of options is just not something people think about. at one wedding i was so surprised and grateful for fun fizzy drinks. there were flavored shrubs that you could mix with bubbly or plain water – delicious!!

Admin
1 month ago

Hi Sarah,
In no way did we intend for this post to be exclusive to people who celebrate Christmas. I completely understand now by looking at the photos how that comes off. We truly just wanted to come up with hosting tips/reminders for anyone having a gathering this holiday season. We will be better going further.

Spero
1 month ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

I agree this feeling is 100% from the photo selection, not the advice. Advice is great for all events! But only 2 photos are free of Christmas decor and one of those is a bathroom. :/

Eugénie
1 month ago
Reply to  Spero

I consider pine trees , even white lights in pine trees a winter or mountain cabin decoration, not holiday specific.

Jessica
1 month ago

I don’t know why you’re so sensitive if she had to be Jewish and was talking about Hanukkah I wouldn’t have any issue with her celebrating her faith I find it quite disturbing that it bothers you that other people are not Jewish🤪

Caity
1 month ago

Awesome post and love the photos!! This is seriously getting me SO excited for the holidays and decorating! Great tips and loved the photos!

Sariah
1 month ago

Avoiding bottlenecking is a great tip, Covid times or not.

Camille
1 month ago

Ugh. No more filler posts. Please treat your audience as a little smarter than this. What is here that is not a no-brainer? (And on top of that, I agree with the other poster that all the photos make the post exclusive)

patty
1 month ago
Reply to  Camille

There are plenty of younger readers who are just starting out as adults with their own home and don’t have experiences hosting for groups.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Camille

I’m sorry that this post wasn’t helpful to you but for people who don’t often host or it’s been a minute, helpful reminders are nice. We all felt that way and that’s why this is not a filler post to us. Also, please know that every post we create takes time and effort and we don’t think of any of them fillers. Daily content with a small team is a beast (one that we love) but hard nonetheless. Not everyone will connect with every post so hopefully, something else this week will hit home for you!

1 month ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Thank you, Jess and team! You make my lunchtime reading a relaxing treat.

emily jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Jess, I just had a flash! A series of “how to” blog posts written by qualified guest writers exploring how to be constructive, positive and supportive members of an online community. Possible subjects could be: teaching readers ‘how to’ keep in mind that these posts are 1) free-to-us and 2) written by human beings (and at EHD, kind humans!). Also: ‘how to’ craft comments that are considerate and thoughtful of said human beings. Perhaps a post on ‘how to’ include context before making an accusation. Or maybe a post that explores the psychology behind the entitlement that seems to haunt free blog content..? And/Also/As Well As: a post that explores the psychology behind my inability to resist the impulse to jump into the fray (I mean, comment section ; ) to earnestly defend the kind, hard-working humans at Emily Henderson Design!
Thoughts..?

Utterly and completely aside from the above content suggestions…
Even though the images in this post reference Christmas, couldn’t the tips themselves be applied to absolutely any gathering..???.

1 month ago
Reply to  emily jane

@emily jane Hell Yes!!

Ally
1 month ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Well, I’m in my 60’s and learned several handy things from this post, so there ya go! Also, the pictures are real mood-boosters. I’m going to try to hunt down those coral velvet lumbar pillows right now….

alexa
1 month ago
Reply to  Camille

I appreciate that Emily and her team still post at least Daily (where many blogs have tapered off their content or stopped posting nearly entirely). While not all posts are going to be equally relevant to me, I’m sure it resonates with someone else.

Love this. I needed these reminders. Thanks!

Admin
1 month ago

You are so welcome!

Mistymountain
1 month ago

Any time you host people, even if everyone is drinking alcohol, you should offer non caffeinated nonalcoholic options so people can pace their drinking. Seltzer is fine. NBD. Plus its great for wine spills! Hosting 101. If your sober fiance brings his own ‘fun’ beverages to parties then why would you guys leave parties early because he didn’t have ‘fun’ beverages? That doesn’t make any sense. The ‘huge’ hyperbole does not help here. Speaking as a sober person (and a grownup), my only ‘huge’ beverage letdown at a party would be if I drank alcohol. LOL. 99.9% of sober folks I know don’t feel a ‘huge’ letdown over random party beverage choices or like your fiance, if we care , we bring our own, same as bringing a bottle of wine to a party. I’d much rather drink water than have the host making a fuss saying “We know you don’t drink we got you coffee or a special beverage” . Yes this has happened to me and yes it’s annoying, and yes I don’t always care for the special beverage and it gets awkward. Lastly, lots of people drink coffee or caffeinated soda on a schedule. The idea that… Read more »

Molly
1 month ago
Reply to  Mistymountain

Geeze, simmer. I agree with everything you’ve said but think about how you’d feel reading this if you had written this article. Practice kindness, eh?
EHD – maybe a post on fun NA “cocktail” party beverages would be fun? A NA beer tasting or mixed drinks with Seedlip or similar “spirits”? I’d love some ideas bc while Mistymountain here doesn’t want attention drawn to the fact that she doesn’t drink (which I can understand), I’d love to offer some really special NA choices at my next party.

MJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Molly

Yes, same, as a currently pregnant person, I would actually feel that it was a very thoughtful touch if someone considered me specially and got me a fun NA bev. And yes, if everyone else around you is drinking something delicious and having a blast and you are stuck with some lukewarm tap water, that is definitely a bit of a bummer haha. Would love to see a post on tasty NA beverages that can still feel festive!

Amy
1 month ago
Reply to  MJ

Hi Molly and MJ- non-drinker here! I was recently at a wedding where the bartender made me a drink with passionfruit, grapefruit, lime, and sparkling water. I know some of those ingredients are harder to find than others (and that a lot of people can’t have grapefruit) but I think it’s good inspiration! Virgin mojitos are also super easy!

1 month ago
Reply to  Molly

As a sober person, I LOVE when fun, healthy options other than water are offered! There are whole books on mocktails, and fancy spirits like Seedlip and Kin Euphorics. I prefer LeCroix, AF Partake stout, and AF wine.

Sarah N.
1 month ago
Reply to  Molly

I volunteer to help contribute a variety of alcohol-free beverage choices beyond LaCroix, for anyone! We can share a list of options that are party-worthy, hang-out worthy AND delicious, for whomever wishes to drink them, for whatever reason.

kk
1 month ago
Reply to  Molly

I’d feel fine with anyone writing this to me. That’s why I wrote it.

Desiree
1 month ago
Reply to  Mistymountain

My fiance is also sober but 100% appreciates it when our friends take the time to provide a NA option at parties. The last gathering we went to the host specially made a NA drink with him and another friend in mind, and they both appreciated the thoughtfulness. Just another perspective here!

kk
1 month ago
Reply to  Desiree

Im perfectly happy when people offer fun NA drinks, what I don’t love is when folks make a big to do over it with a big announcement.

margaret
1 month ago

Fun post, thank you! I cringed at the first one b/c my DR table fern has now officially gotten tall enough to make my friend crane her neck at our little dinner party last weekend. Woops! Need to rethink the dinner party setup. But I gotta say, that place card suggestion sent my eyebrows sky high. I’m sure there are regional and friend-group-culture differences at play here, but if I went to a dinner party and there were place cards, it would seem very off to me. Fine for a truly formal event, sure, but a residential dinner party? Does anyone else think that feels pretentious? Educate me please, I’m not here to judge, just ask questions!

Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  margaret

I did this once for a Christmas meal and included a mini-menu, with the person’s name at the top.
Everyone love, love, loved it and most people asked if they could take theirs home!
They sat at the table snd immediately started chatting sbout the different foods on the menu.
It. Works! 🤗

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  margaret

This idea is meant to be a fun way to make people feel a little extra special:) Not meant to be pretentious, just cute and thoughtful. We all love when we see our names on a place setting card. It also could literally be a name on even a leaf. Easy and sweet. But if it doesn’t work for you then you can skip it.

Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  margaret

I love the idea of place cards, especially if it means that the host put some thought into selecting who I’d be sitting next to. I love the idea of the host helping to mix it up & get certain people talking to one another who might not normally sit next to one another.

Donna
1 month ago
Reply to  margaret

We did this for the kids in the family when they were younger. It was a painless way to get them to the table and seated where we wanted them. Plus, if it’s a puzzle type treat, keeps them busy.

Judun
1 month ago
Reply to  margaret

I’m glad you said it. I agree 100%. Super awkward and I actually can’t imagine hanging out with people who would use them unless it was a very big, formal dinner.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  margaret

I’m not against place cards, but I never like how they are written about. Just like in this post, I’ve seen them mentioned more and more over the past few years as the way to show guests you care and they are special. If the only thing I’m doing as a host to communicate that is place cards, then I’m really falling down on the job. I wish writers would even just say it’s “a” way to make people feel special. It’s not the only thing the host is doing (I mean, they are Hosting which is a lot of effort and guests should be able to feel special just from that) both before and after the guests arrive to signal care and attention and it just isn’t as necessary as the wording of magazine articles and blog posts make it sound. Also, and this could really really really just be me, but I don’t actually publish a list of all invitees so everyone knows who is coming. I don’t use any of the apps or subscription websites for people to reply, I go old school and reach out to them until I get an answer. There are *always* a… Read more »

1 month ago

So funny that you’d suggest letting guests keep their shoes on—this is highly regional (and as you mention, cultural) but living in the midwest, I’d be so offended if people waltzed through my house with shoes on—though, of course, their shoes are wet and dirty from the snow! We’ve had visitors from California before and had to gently request that they remove their (again, wet from the snow) shoes when they came in.

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Darcy

I’m in California, and a lot of friends have a no shoe policy. My request is that if one would like no shoes worn in the house, they provide a place to sit. Not everyone does, and it can be awkward and uncomfortable and potentially injurious to take shoes off standing up. Even a small stool serves the purpose.

Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Yes! I remember visiting a friend on snowy days & needing to awkwardly balance myself on one foot & leaning on the wall while trying to pull off a boot from the other foot–even while the host was watching me & talking. Once, I finally asked for a chair & I think they were upset that providing a chair, even a temporary one, would mess up their decor.

Amy
1 month ago
Reply to  Darcy

Agree! Absolutely no shoes! Wearing shoes in the house makes me feel like the host is dirty. I’m in NYC so no way anyone wants what’s on the side walk on their floor. The only exception I see is when people have pets. I honestly hate to take off my shoes if there is a pet in the house bc you know there is going to be hair.

Rachel
1 month ago
Reply to  Darcy

OMG thank you! I was looking for this. I read that one and I was like oh yeah shoes are totally a huge part of outfits but also I don’t think I could convince guests who came over to keep their shoes on! It’s just such an automatic custom around here. I bet you’re right that it’s about the wet shoes thing. I couldn’t stop thinking of a super old episode of sex in the city when carry has to take her shoes off at a party and is furious about it.

As to the taking the shoes off thing from another comment, I lol’d. I’ve done that lean and remove the boot thing so many times—it’s so super awkward but I never even question it! That said, here in Toronto at least half of my friends don’t really have enough entryway to even fit a stool so I guess I’m used to it.

Reply to  Darcy

yes! totally agree. michigander here. wet. mud. snow. whatever. is just gross. when i read that part about letting guests leave their shoes on, i totally cringed. i find it completely gross. growing up as a child of indian immigrants, it was definitely a cultural thing to always leave your shoes by the door at anyone’s house because it just brings dirt/germs into the house. we just had a few parties this past weekend and everyone took their shoes off automatically. if someone left their shoes on, i’d probably be thinking about all of the places they walked throughout the day and where they walked in my house. and then i’d have to go around mopping every spot they were. i think maybe the only thing i would suggest is to have a little basket with new socks for guests that aren’t wearing socks if it makes them feel more comfortable about taking shoes off?

DeniseGK
1 month ago

I really believe that a cultural shift is happening with regard to shoes inside and the people hanging on to wearing shoes in someone else’s house are on the disappearing side. I come from a conservative family in the south, snowmud is NOT a problem here, and they’d like everything to be the same as the 1950s forever. And yet…they once thought taking shoes off was extremely rude and weird (we had a family move down from Illinois and join our church, when that lady and her daughters took their shoes off the first time they came over for coffee, my mother almost said something out loud she was so discombobulated). Now, they all have a no shoes policy in their homes will proselytize about it all day long. If even they are changing, I think it’s on its way out.

Jenny
1 month ago

So glad you guys mentioned non-alcoholic drinks! Just popping in to add that lots of people don’t actually drink things like diet soda, La Croix or sparkling water. I have an allergy to carbonic acid, which is rare, but means I’ve never been able to drink any of those things. Even as a child, my party drink option was tap water. More typically, plenty of people don’t drink caffeine for health or religious reasons. I’d recommend including a non-sparkling juice option. Lemonade, orange juice, mango nectar, apple cider. It works as a mixer, too, but you’ll be surprised how many (adult) people will just choose to drink juice.

Rusty
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny

Non-alcoholic wines are actually really good these days!
I’d love Jess to go down a rabbit hole of non-alcoholic cocktails, come out of said rabbit hole snd post about it with easy recipes.

1 month ago
Reply to  Rusty

Rusty, Yes!

Leigh H
1 month ago
Reply to  Rusty

Rusty which ones do you like, can’t seem to find a non-alc wine that’s good. I have found lots of good non-alc beers and champagne though. Thanks!

Emma
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny

Honestly, at the end of the day you can’t please everyone or anticipate every single preference. Ask about severe allergies if you’re hosting and do your best. I personally can’t have caffeine and have to limit alcohol intake due to medication interactions and it’s never been a problem. I love water and you can always throw in a wedge of lime or lemon too. I personally think the desire to be universally inclusive can be really intimidating especially to people who are new (or out of practice) with entertaining, or are hosting on a very limited budget. If someone has friends with a lot of restrictions I’d recommend a potluck style and assign people categories (sides, drinks, salad, dessert) rather than specific dishes. And since you should never show up to a party empty-handed, that’s a great opportunity to bring something you love to eat/drink!

Spero
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny

Agree about adults drinking a juice. I’ve been to a few parties that had something like sparkling lemonade or Agua de Jamaica and I would rather that than almost any beer/wine.

Jen
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny

We always have a Zero Proof station at our house when we host parties with a variety of alcohol free options. Lots of people don’t want alcohol these days and we want our guests to feel comfortable and included at our parties.

Rachel
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny

I don’t drink but went to a party recently where the host very kindly for some non alcoholic gin and tonic for me. One of the reasons I don’t drink is honestly the taste (I hate sour/bitter things) so this G&T was one of worst things I’ve ever had in my life….but I drank it and thanked her as it was a lovely gesture. You can’t please everyone – we all need to do our best and be kind!

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Rachel

Oh no! At least you have a good story for future get togethers. 🙂

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

Party? People in my house? What’s that? lol Good tips!

Suzanne
1 month ago

Ooo, a post on premade cocktails and mocktails would be wonderful, as a few other commenters mentioned. I also love the recommendation for juices someone mentioned. Juice alone or with seltzer, non alcoholic beverages can be made with or without carbonation.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Just thought this was a good place to stick this in: I learned from a lady I nannied for that you can make White Sangria with champagne instead. Then discovered on my own, when I moved to a dry county, that you can make that same recipe with fizzy grape juice or soda water. It’s still good and the bubbles make it fun for people who still getting used to doing without alcohol.

hickenack
1 month ago

Ew. No shoes in my house. Ever, ever, ever.

BW
1 month ago
Reply to  hickenack

I don’t understand outside shoes inside at all. Blech.

hickenack
1 month ago
Reply to  BW

I work in healthcare. I have 2 certifications in infection control so I’ve spent a fair bit of time studying microbes. Shoes come off in the tiled foyer and the foyer floor gets steam cleaned as soon as the last guest has left. Not budging on this one, no apologies.

And yes, when I visit shoe-optional friends I either keep my shoes on or bring THICK socks (I tend to wear flats a lot) because my bare feet are not touching a shoe floor. No apologies for that either! LOL

BW
1 month ago
Reply to  hickenack

I’m totally with you!

1 month ago

Huge cheers for including us non-drinkers in these tips, Ryann! There are tons of amazing, healthy mocktail recipes these days, so that could be batch prepped too. Personally, I love alcohol-free Partake beer and alcohol-free wine on special occasions. There are also extra-fancy alcohol-free, herb-infused spirits such as Seedlip. Very thankfully, sober is trending!

Milo
1 month ago

I drink alcohol, but not if I’m going to drive later, so don’t drink at all if I go to a party alone. One of my friends cold brews teas (some herbal, some caffeinated) and I always appreciate the thoughtfulness. She also sometimes makes a batch of a beverage that is good without alcohol and let’s people add their own if they want it. +1 for giving people options to celebrate without booze!

Melissa
1 month ago

One thing that we started doing years ago was inquiring beforehand if our guests have food allergies or dietary requirements for medical reasons (for example, shellfish allergies or celiac disease). I never want anyone to have reaction to the food we are serving, or not enjoy themselves because there weren’t enough options they could safely eat. And I like to make sure we have an adequate amount of a vegetarian dish, or two. The bartender of the house is an expert, and always offers to make low or no alcohol drinks, coffee or tea. As a host, I am always extremely appreciative when a guest asks if they can bring something, they agree to bring whatever I requested, and then they actually bring that item! Usually we have everything covered and say no thank you, just get here safely and enjoy yourself. But when I do ask them to bring a specific item, it’s because I trust them and I’m really counting on them to come through.

deb
1 month ago
Reply to  Melissa

That last part made me laugh. Have one family member that always offers to bring an appetizer, but is also always the last one to arrive!

Chantal
1 month ago

I have to also add make sure that you bring a small gift if you are invited over or offer to bring something so that the host isn’t stuck with buying extra napkins or drinks or whatever when they have a meal to cook. Also, as a guest offer to help clean up when the party ends. The host will definitely appreciate the extra help! I noticed that a lot of people don’t do this anymore, which my mother and grandma (who entertained nearly every weekend growing up) would absolutely frown on.

Sarah
1 month ago
Reply to  Chantal

I think my (southern) grandmother would have been offended if her friends offered to help clean up after a party. Like it would be implying she couldn’t handle it herself. Interesting how different people have such different norms around hospitality!

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Sarah

Indeed, I am southern too. Yet all my family and friends learned to offer to help clean up, and were taught to expect it from others when they were the hosts. I grew up rural and poor, but we absolutely had some rich folks at church and it was the same for everyone. I still live in the south, but in a city now and it’s a real mix of current socio-economic status and I’d say it’s 50/50 whether people welcome & expect offers of help or would be upset by them. The best thing remains the same: find a neutral way of inquiring which camp the host is in, and be ready to follow their lead. People want to be known and asking “Do you want me to help?” shows an interest in them as an individual that you don’t get from assuming what they think. (This, btw, is not aimed at you personally, Sarah. I have every confidence you practice good manners.)

MoMo
1 month ago
Reply to  Chantal

The cleaning up thing can go both ways. I know some people appreciate the help and would never turn it down, but I’m cut from a different cloth I guess. I want everyone (including me) to relax and have a good time and not do anything that might ruin a good outfit. That’s what the day after is for! Also, if people insist on going into my kitchen, I have to go there too. There will be a million questions: where can I find this, where does this go…….I have a fairly small kitchen, and if someone is washing dishes then someone has to be drying and putting away, cause there’s not enough room to stack things. AND WORST OF ALL: unwanted “helpers” can put a real damper on the evening and cause other guests to start clearing out cause they think the party’s over. After all the effort you have gone to! This was a constant in my house on Thanksgiving……I would have my in-laws and every year they started clean-up WAY to early and everyone left about 4 hours after arriving. It actually ended up feeling downright rushed, after I spent weeks of effort on the decorating, cleaning… Read more »

kk
1 month ago
Reply to  MoMo

Im sorry this happened to you ! YES follow the host. I would much prefer to do it myself later than deal with tipsy chatty clumsy helpers. Sometimes hosts go to the kitchen to hide and regroup LOL.

Sarah
1 month ago

I think the title might be rubbing folks the wrong way. If not having place cards and taking shoes off are mistakes, then I don’t want to be right!

Remington
1 month ago

PERMISSION TO KEEP SHOES ON! Woohoo! I’m so glad you added this. As someone who struggles with chronic plantar fasciitis (AKA stabbing heel pain), it’s so awkward to be asked to remove my shoes when I come into someone else’s home. I have a constant internal argument trying to balance my desire to people-please against my desire to not limp around in pain. I also have yet to figure out a way to politely decline removing my shoes that doesn’t involve me stammering about heel cups and tendons and inflammation–all things that NO HOST is like “sign me up for this conversation.” I’m completely on-board with removing shoes for cultural or religious reasons, but if you are just picky about your hardwood or carpets please ease up so we can avoid that super awkward convo. Thx!

Kira
1 month ago
Reply to  Remington

I live in a winter city, so it’s culturally appropriate here that if one wants to wear shoes inside, that they bring a pair of indoor shoes along to change into! It also tends to create a better fashion situation – no one’s big clunky boots for -40 C actually go with their outfits…

Patricia
1 month ago

when planning dinner parties, my #1 hack is setting the dinner table the day before. Even set out serving pieces you’ll need. Then follow Ina Garten’s rule; make something fabulous and purchase your dessert and make simple appetizers. I’m a big fan of her oven baked risotto; it’s so damn easy.
I’m also a big fan of really cleaning the bathroom, it’s the only place your guest will be in alone. Everywhere else, they’ll have other guests to distract them. Clear off surfaces so guests can set down a drink without knocking into something.

Liz
1 month ago

No shoes policy – in Switzerland is considered normal that you will take your shoes off so I always wore something that worked without shoes or took my own ballet slippers that I bought especially for this – simple you just slip them on and no big deal. We now live in Mexico – normally here people leave shoes on – if it’s a dressy affair I normally just let it go and don’t ask people to remove shoes but if it’s more casual it’s shoes off. I think also climate dictates and of course if your shoes are wet and muddy you just take them off right?

bek kim
29 days ago

I take offense at the shoe “mistake”. You can’t footnote a racist comment and say if it’s cultural it’s okay then tell everyone else to not be so uptight. A disclamer doesn’t make it okay. Hire asian to your staff.

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