Menus & Entertaining

25 ways to be a welcoming host

By: Kelly Peckitt

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Menus & Entertaining

25 ways to be a welcoming host

By: Kelly Peckitt

You're at a party and the host is running around in a panic, has no time to chat and hasn't sat down in hours. If you're inviting guests over for a bash, remember that a party with a frazzled host isn't much fun to attend. But entertaining doesn't have to be so stressful and being the "host with the most" doesn't have to be such a daunting task.

Sandra Deeble, author of A Girl's Guide to Etiquette (Thomas Allen) and Susan Breen, author of Entertaining for Wimps (Sterling Publishing), offer valuable tips on how to be welcoming and warm at your next party. Here's a roundup of some of their best suggestions.

Get the party started
1. The first impression is the most important one. When inviting your guests to your party, whether by phone, mail or in person, make your guests feel like their presence is very important to you.

2. Be thoughtful of a guest's food concerns. Ask beforehand if there are allergies or a special diet you should be aware of.

3. Composure is key. Nothing dampens the mood of a party more than arriving to a frazzled and stressed-out host. Meet each guest at the door with a cheerful greeting and warm disposition.

4. As soon as guests arrive, offer them a drink, take their coat, and escort them into the guest area.

5. When offered hostess gifts, be gracious and say thank you -- when the gift is given and again when your guest leaves.

6. If guests are unfamiliar with your home, offer a tour so they know where to find the restroom, the smoking area or where their coats are being stored.

7. Introduce you guests to one another. There is nothing worse than sitting in a room full of strangers and not knowing anyone's name.

8. Consider your guests' special needs. For example, have a comfy seat on hand for a pregnant friend, a designated area for smokers, or a sweater for a cold friend.

9. Have a wide assortment of non-alcoholic drinks on hand. Many times, a great deal of thought is put into what alcoholic drinks to serve while non-alcoholic drinks are limited to water and soda. Show all your guests they were worth your thought.

10. A smile goes a long way. Remember how you are behaving sets the tone of the party.

Page 1 of 3 -- Find fun tips to keep the party going on page 2

Keep the fun flowing
11. Spend less time in the kitchen and make guests your first priority. When the party is over, guests will remember how you treated and interacted with them more than they will remember the food.

12. Don't shoo everyone out of the kitchen. Some guests really do want to help, sometimes just as a way of keeping you company. Give them simple tasks and keep the conversation going.

13. Even if it's not a dinner party, it is polite to have some sort of food to offer your guests. If alcohol is being served, providing food is a must.

14. If you will be sitting down to a formal meal, consider the seating plan. Mix up your outgoing guests with the shy ones to avoid quiet areas at the table.

15. If people are obviously still eating or enjoying themselves, avoid the interruption of clearing the table. It will cause guests to feel like they should stop eating and get up from the table.

16. Be prepared for surprises. If someone brings an extra guest, or a child unexpectedly, make the best of the situation.

17. Be attentive. Keep an eye out for empty glasses, a stranded guest or someone looking for the restroom.

18. Make an effort to move throughout the party, avoiding giving one guest all your time. Every guest wants to feel like they are important to you.

19. Great hosts remember the little stuff. Whether it's asking about your friend's sick mother, new job or child's school play. Personal touches like this make all the difference.

20. Flower arrangements and candles help to create a warm and intimate atmosphere. Little touches like these show that you have made an effort.

Page 2 of 3 -- With our expert tips on page 2, your guests are sure to leave with a positive impression of your party!

Leave guests with a great impression
21. Music is a perfect way to get conversation going. People are more likely to talk to the person next to them if they don't feel like everyone is listening.

22. Avoid complaining about how much work the party has been for you. Guests don't want to feel guilty about all the work you have done.

23. If this is an adult-only party, consider finding alternate care for your children as well so that you guests may have your undivided attention.

24. Think ahead. Have taxi numbers available for guests who cannot drive home and/or prepare a spare bedroom for overnight visitors.

25. A grand exit: When visitors begin to leave, retrieve their coats, walk them to the door and thank them for coming.

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Menus & Entertaining

25 ways to be a welcoming host