10 Commandments of Hosting

Crush it at your next gathering by following these ten simple rules. Happy planning!

[1] HAVE FUN

The main premise of throwing a party is for people to enjoy themselves, and that includes the host. Preparation is key, but when things don’t go as planned, don’t sweat it! Rolling with the punches keeps a positive vibe at the party—which is ultimately what everyone will remember.

[2] ENLIST HELP

Plan your party with friends who also enjoy the process: that way you can joyfully scheme, shop, and prep as a team. At the party, get more manpower. Enlist the aspiring mixologist to bartend, your fuss-pot friend to oversee the buffet, and your most friendly cohort to welcome guests. On special occasions, hire professionals.

[3] CREATE A THEME

Having a theme is a great way to pull together the three essential elements: food, drink, ambiance—it automatically streamlines choices. Get guests involved in your theme by asking them to dress a certain way or participate in an activity. It gets people excited about attending and pulls the crowd together. Think: Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball.

[4] GET THE RIGHT MIX

When creating the guest list, keep in mind who might get along with whom. Mix new people with your regulars. Go overboard—don’t be afraid to pack a space. The tighter the quarters, the more guests will interact. (See details on creating the ultimate guest list here). Send your invite one month in advance, or a Save-the-Date two months ahead, if your party falls on a holiday weekend.

[5] MAKE FOOD FOR ALL

Unless you know everyone’s food preferences, always include at least one vegan and one vegetarian dish among your offerings. Make enough food for twice the amount of people. There should be lots of leftovers, which can be parceled out to guests as they exit—or enjoyed for days after.

[6] SIMPLIFY THE BAR

Create a signature cocktail. Partially prepare and store in airtight pitchers. At the party, adapt the cocktail to guests’ taste, including a mocktail option. Guests love this, so make plenty. To round out the bar: offer wine, one or two spirits with sparkling water, wedges of lemons/limes.

[7] BUILD EXCITEMENT

Keep track of who’s coming with a checklist or with an online invitation service. Send fun email alerts to keep guests excited about the party, a week before, and a day before.

[8] PREP THE SPACE

Remove personal belongings so people can spread out (and not break anything!). Add touches to coincide with your theme. Be prepared with large vases for those who bring flowers. Stock up on toilet paper (four extra rolls) and air freshener in the bathroom. Save old towels, which really come in handy if there is a spill to clean up.

[9]CREATE CONNECTIONS

As the host, it is your duty to introduce people and get a conversation started. Throw out statements like: “Mary just came back from a safari in Africa,” or “Joe has a house near you Upstate.” If appropriate, set up a game, a contest, or something to view and comment on. A good music mix and a space to dance will get folks to unwind and mingle.

[10] BE A GOOD GUEST

Guests are just as duty-bound in making an event fun. A good guest brings something special to the host—a bottle or gourmet item will be received with open arms. Make your best effort to honor the party theme, this shows the host you care, and puts you in party mode. At the party—mingle. Pace yourself!