Hosting a dinner party is a big effort. Depending on your style you may have to clean up the house, shop for and make a meal, set the table, arrange flowers, restock the bar, make a music mix, arrange for childcare or kid-friendly alternatives, get yourself dressed and presentable, light the candles, and arrange the hors d'oeuvres. Phew! All this is good to do but as a host your most important task is to make your guests feel welcome and comfortable. Read on for 8 basic tips on how to do just that.
Making your guests feel comfortable is not that difficult but it does mean that you have to divide your attention between the meal prep and host duties. Unless of course you're co-hosting the party with a friend or partner, in which case it makes sense to have one person focus on the guests and the other on the food. Here are a few basics to assure that your guests will feel welcome and comfortable in your home and at your table.
1. Greet them at the door and offer them a drink right away.
2. Introduce them to other guests and start them off on a conversation.
3. Find out if they have food allergies/sensitivities ahead of time and plan a meal around that rather than drawing attention to them with a 'special exception' dish. This is not always possible, but nice when you can.
4. Remember favorites (kind of wine or brand of whiskey, for example, or a special pasta dish) and be sure to have it on hand.
5. Don't assume that people from other countries want to eat the food of their home country. If you went to a home in Japan, would you want to be served cheeseburgers? That said, if you are confident that you excel in their cuisine and want to offer them a taste of homecooking, by all means give it a go.
6. If the group doesn't know one another very well, serve food that's not too difficult to eat or that doesn't requite a battery of special utensils.
7. Pay attention to the lighting and temperature in the room and adjust accordingly. Have blankets and shawls available if you're hosting an outdoor party.
8. Plan your meal so that you don't have to spend the entire time in the kitchen in a frantic rush. People love good food, but people love people even more and your friends are there to see you.
What do you do to make your guests feel more comfortable and at ease?
(Image: Dana Velden)