be a good host

Welcome to All in the Detail... I am so glad you are here!

Planning on throwing a big summer soiree? Many people just can’t seem to handle being the HOST part of a party. They seem to get so stressed out, that everything seems to start going wrong and before you know it, no one is having a good time. Well, it really isn’t that difficult if you plan ahead, prepare ahead and follow my ten ‘go-to’ rules from Town and Country when playing hostess to any party.

1. Ask for help.

I don't know about you, but I'm constantly saying "I'm fine!" when people offer help. This is the host's version of rejecting a compliment: Don't do it! If someone is generous enough to offer their help, take it. They can help put together a cheese board, light candles, do dishes, so you can be free to focus on those last-minute details.

2. Give yourself 25% more time than you think you need.

Sometimes we all get a little over ambitious and think we can defy physics. Doing an hour's worth of work in 20 minutes? Yeah, it's not happening, no matter how put together you are. I always schedule in a little bit of cushion when I'm hosting an event, so if you think you need an hour, give yourself an hour and 15, you'll be so happy you did.

3. When in doubt: nice smells and good lighting!

Light candles, toast crostini, slice up fresh citrus for cocktails, get those delicious smells going to kick start everyone's appetite. Additionally, turn the lights a few degrees lower than you think is appropriate, and light tea candles to compensate. The glow of candlelight is universally flattering, and your single friends will thank you.

4. Invite a few VIPS.

Always invite one or two friends over a little earlier to help decant wine, mix cocktails, and sort of populate the room before the rest of the guests arrive. Not only will having your pals around help you de-stress, it will also make it less awkward when that random "plus one" shows up right on the dot.

5. Use the 1:3 ratio for cooking.

Everyone wants to be a hero when they're hosting but, in my experience, that is a recipe for stress. I will inevitably ruin that dish I wanted to try out for the first time, lose track of time, and be putting on lipstick 30 minutes after guests start arriving.

To keep things simple, I have two rules:
1) No new dishes
2) For every one dish cooked, 3 are make ahead or assembly only

This means for every main course, there's a salad, a cheese board, and a dessert I made the day before balancing everything out. This way, I can focus on the one centerpiece that requires a little extra effort, and not sweat the quick to assemble, "ready out of the fridge" stuff.

6. Fill the void.

Awkward silence is the worst, so I fill those pauses with my favorite music. I tend to go with classical solo piano music at the dinner table and light 1960’s music of soft jazz before and after the meal, but whatever your favorite is will work!

7. Set boundaries clearly.

Do you not let people wear shoes in the house? Make sure to tell them! The resentment of a petite woman having to remove her heels can be fierce. Additionally, if you want people out of your house by a certain time, either center the evening on an event (a dinner or birthday have a natural conclusion with dessert or a viewing party ends when the movie or TV show is over, for instance) or include an end time in an invitation. For start time, assume 30 minutes grace for a dinner party and up to an hour for a larger or more casual get together.

8. Invest in a good bottle opener.

This will save time and your carpet. I have spilt many a bottle trying to pry one open. It is also a good idea to put a specific person in charge of this task, when drinks seems to be running low… “Please open another”. This, too, will free you up from yet another duty to focus on.

9. Dishes.

You did it! You've hosted an amazing get-together, you've kicked off your shoes and blown out the candles and you're about to soak in the tub until…you walk past the pile of dishes in the sink. This echoes #1, but make sure you have help for after the party. That feeling of relief once the last person leaves shouldn't be ruined by a series of exhausting chores. Have a friend stay, play some tunes, dance in the kitchen, load up the dishwasher and get to bed!

10. Do you.

Being a host means that you are responsible for the experience of everyone walking into your home. You're in charge of making sure they're well fed (if it's that kind of a party), well quenched (if it's that kind of a party), and generally having a good time. You make introductions, keep the conversation moving, and keep the energy flowing the whole night. You also should take a breath and make sure to have fun. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the process of throwing a party, that we forget to actually take part in the party. Enjoy your delicious food, sip a refreshing drink, and take the time to savor an evening with close friends.

There, that wasn’t so hard after all, was it?