Party season is already upon us, and if you’re taking on hosting duties this year, you may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed. But now a new survey has revealed exactly how to be a good host and make your guests feel instantly happy and relaxed, whether you’re throwing casual drinks or a full-blown bash.
Dunelm, together with etiquette expert Jo Bryant, surveyed 2,000 adults about their party-going habits and whittled down their responses to form a checklist of qualities for the ultimate ‘dream host’ – and everything from the playlist to your drinks cabinet has an impact.
However, there are plenty of shortcuts you can take to cut down the stress of the situation – for instance, participants said they didn’t care if their host ‘cheated’ on the cooking with shop-bought options as long as they were nicely presented, and simple gestures like offering a drink on arrival or offering to take people’s coats can go a long way.
‘Long gone are the days of starched tablecloths and fussy three-course menus, but we still can feel pressure make everything perfect. Instead, aim to do less – and do it better,’ says Bryant.
She also advises outsourcing some of the labour: ‘At Christmas, don’t be a martyr and try to run everything single-handedly,’ she says. ‘It can be helpful to give individuals specific jobs upfront, so everyone feels involved and you don’t feel overwhelmed.’
‘Have the confidence to decide you’re skipping starters or let your guests bring pudding – and pay attention to the more thoughtful details that show you’ve made an effort, like stocking up on a drink you know is a guest’s favourite or using fresh flowers to make the table feel extra special,’ she adds.
‘Consider inviting one or two close friends to come over early, and pop the music on in good time, so when the other guests arrive the atmosphere will already feel like a party.’
Apparently, one in four of us already believe that we’re ‘excellent’ hosts. But if you’re not there just yet, here are the changes that can make all the difference:
30 signs you’re a dream host
- Keeps the conversation flowing
- Offers guests a drink soon after they arrive
- Makes sure guests don’t have to wait too long before food is served
- Has a clean and tidy home
- Doesn’t making a fuss if anything gets broken or spilled
- Has a great selection of drinks – from soft drinks to beers, wines and spirits
- Ensures all guest have a comfortable place to sit
- Offers to take people’s coats
- Has options for all dietary requirements
- Presents food nicely – whether they’ve cooked it from scratch or ‘cheated’
- Spends more time with guests than in the kitchen
- Defuses any awkwardness or questionable things said by guests
- Sits the right people next to each other to create good conversation
- Remembers your dietary preferences
- Tops up guests’ drinks before they even need to ask
- Serves courses on time
- Plans games and activities – but not forcing them on guests
- Has the perfect playlist for the occasion
- Knows what wine accompanies each course perfectly
- Lets other people bring things (salads, puddings) to share the load
- Having a stocked drinks trolley
- Gives guests the WiFi password
- Has the right glassware for all types of drinks such as tumblers for spirits and flutes for champagne
- Can guess everyone’s drink without asking
- Keeps kids’ toys tidied out of sight
- Uses special serving plates for the occasion
- Cooks with unusual or creative menu ingredients
- Decorates their home in such a way as to create talking points for guests
- Personalises name settings
- Books a babysitter or entertainment for kids