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Build Your Hostess Rep

When you go to a hotel, what do you appreciate more – the sweeping lobby or the free chocolate chip cookies on arrival?  What about to a restaurant – say, Red Lobster – is it the shrimp scampi or the Cheddar Bay Biscuits that keep you coming back? 

Just like for industry pros, building your rep as a fabulous hostess is all about the little things, the unnecessary details that take guests by surprise and make them feel special and comfortable.  Less savvy hostesses overlook those little things.  Not you.  Not anymore.

Hostess tips for pre-party planning

When you’re working to be a legendary hostess, remember: no event is too small for a theme, and here’s why: beyond helping you get organized and providing that cohesive “wow” factor to your celebration, a theme gives your guests a sense of what to expect.  It will help them anticipate what types of food will be served, what people will be wearing, and how much energy the party will require  – all of which work together to put guests at ease before they even cross your threshold.

As you prep for your party, take time to pick out some music that complements the mood or theme of your gathering.  The tunes will not only underscore your planning genius, they will also fill in the inevitable gaps in conversation and give people a way to find common ground with each other.  Music means connection, and being a talented hostess means helping people connect.

A hostess with a rep knows how to usher guests in from the outside.  Luminaries, hanging flower baskets, or a copy of the invitation framed on the door heighten guests’ sense of anticipation for what is to come, but they also tell them you’re ready to see them and are excited about their presence.  Who doesn’t rave about a hostess that makes them feel great?

Finally, whenever you’re hosting first-time guests, contain your furry friends.  Remember that while most people love prancing puppies and cuddly kitties, the minority who don’t are never going to be honest and tell you your critter’s kisses gross them out.  An unpleasant run-in with your pets could keep some friends away permanently.

What to do when your shindig is in full swing

Once everyone has found a friend or a bite to eat, you can do a quick round of behind-the-scenes-magic.  First, make sure the restroom is stocked.  Visible supplies avoid any awkward conversations that can take you away from mingling later.  While you’re at it, throw something unexpected in bathroom, like fresh flowers or a (closeable) tin of mints, just something that says, “I was here.  I was thinking about this.”

Next, ensure the lights are dim enough.  People need a little bit of cover when they’re at a party, a little something to cut the glare of being socially “on.”  Throw guests a bone by making your merriment moody and you’ll be doing yourself a favor, too: nothing says awkward party like 120 watts.

If it’s time to replenish treats, let guests see you wash your hands before you handle food.  Again, it’s the little things that put people at ease.  And, always put out more food than is needed.  It’s a strange but true fact that people won’t eat at all if they fear there’s any chance they’ll be the ones to deplete your supply of goodies.  Show them, don’t just tell them there’s enough to go around.  And eat!  For heaven’s sake, eat.

Finally, refill glasses.  It’s the perfect opportunity to talk to every single person.  Just don’t forget to vary your beverage choices: hot, cold, and alcoholic should cover everyone.

Above all, keep in mind that people want a friend, not a slave.  Your hostess prowess is measured most by how good a time you have at your own bash.

How to end a fabulous party

When things start winding down, be ready to turn your energy up.  Be watchful as guests leave, and take time to actually walk each person to the door so you can appropriately thank them for coming.  They’ll be back if they know how much you liked having them there.

For the true above-and-beyond experience, never underestimate the power of a party favor.  It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but putting something in the hands of your guests as they go helps them remember what a great time they had.  A piece of chocolate, a bottle of water, a Polaroid photo (yes, you can still buy film for those!) – whatever.  Anything is better than nothing, but you get hostess bonus points for favors that echo your party theme.

Last but not least, if you’re ready to call it a night and a few stragglers aren’t, offer a cup of coffee or ask, “Does anyone want any more food or drink before I put it away?”  That should do the trick.


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One Response to “Build Your Hostess Rep”

  1. Great ideas! I’m always looking for ways to be a better hostess.

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