9 Nov 2018
A Host has two goals: To enjoy the guests, and for the guests to enjoy the host.
Being a member of your family means that you learn from their style of living. We learn traditions, humor, cooking techniques, and behavioral interactions. In my family, we hold the idea of community very close to us. Our home is always opened and welcoming. We’ve had family, friends, neighbors, exchange students, coworkers, you name it-all welcomed at our house.
That being said, we’ve had hundreds of gatherings, parties, and events at our home. The idea of hosting a large group of people being Buddhist Monks from Tibet, international big-name artists, local Architectural influencers, wealthy philanthropists, or extended family members I’ve never met, my family was ready to host them. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege to do the same in my homes in Austin and Houston. Luckily, I’ve been trained to ensure that my guests have an unforgettable time in my house. I’ve noted below some tips that have helped me make our gatherings extremely entertaining, comforting and welcoming.
Please read below.
The host must always have accessible hydration methods for the guest. When only alcoholic beverages are available, it tends to guide the gathering towards a certain direction and you alienate the guests who cannot or do not drink.
Pro-tip: Have a see-through/glass/plastic pitcher or liquid dispenser. Cut up a couple fruits, cucumbers, and mint. Stack layers of flavored cut pieces and separate layers with ice. Add water and place in accessible area (refill when needed).
This one might be more important than the accessibility to water, but food or even small snacks should always be readily available (and refilled). I’d go as far as making sure the host creates a home-cooked dish(es). If the host is incapable of cooking food for guests, catering could substitute. One rule to remember is that, being invited somewhere where food is mediocre is awful.
Pro-tip: Learn to make a couple of big dishes and tell some guests to bring home-cooked dishes of their own. Do no let anyone bring simple, processed foods if the other food isn’t processed. Keep the food all processed (bad), or all homemade (good). Do not mix. Make easy food to eat. Don’t make sit-down food. See our recipe page here.
Everyone thinks they’re a DJ or that they have great taste to share with the party. Sure, some do. Most do not. I’m not saying you can’t like your own music taste, but just because you think it’s a great song, doesn’t mean it is suited to the party. I hear good DJs usually don’t take request. Neither should a host, unless for special/certain occasions or to welcome a new sound. The music sets the tone of a party. Jazzy-cocktail, reggae-chill, Spanish-cooking, rapping-bump, Oldies-dance, 90s-singalong. You understand what I mean? The music is the bass of a party. A curated playlist or suggested album must be carefully selected.
Pro-tip: Since music will be playing in the specified venue space, the host must have a different selection of music playing in the designated restroom area. This allows guests to change into a different vide while utilizing such facility. It can be extremely comfortable for guests to feel as if they stepped away from a party to gather themselves, rest, ponder, or connect more intimately.
When crafting your guest list for your special event or party, remember that blandness and equality never sparked unforgettable memories (unless it was really bad). Parties are not just to cut loose, make love, and dance the night away in blissful tipsiness. It also invites connection, entertainment and expression. People like options. If every guest were similar, we can tell how an event or party might unravel. For more excitement, mix the guest list up a bit. Invite those guests to connect on different subjects and levels with other guests. If different groups of guests mingle, then new emotions and actions might coincide. Different events can be conjured. Be warned that too much heterogeneous mixing could result in corner groupings, being where there are eighteen groups of circles at one juncture. That is not the idea here.
Pro-tip: Invite different ethnicities, different professionals, different social classes, and different personality types. I’m not suggesting this for every single event or party, or even all at once. Just think about how blend-able the guest list can be without compromising the integrity of the gathered or whole. Good talkers & Good listeners.
In the business world, we’re often happy to sellout through food products. It means we kicked ass, had a great dish or food offerings. Yes, but a party is like a living creature that needs to be continually fed, properly, to thrive. A host must always have back-ups of the majority of the items (food, drink, gift and party bags). Running out of these items could leave some people out of the enjoyment of the gathering, or worse, make them upset to have been invited or brought to such a limited outing.
Pro-tip: Hiding a couple of different bottles or food items can really bring life back to a party. It shows that the host is well-equipped for fun situations with tasteful food, drink, gift and party items.
Pro Pro-tip: Do not run out of ice, ever.
This bit is great to learn how to manage stressful event coordination. The execution of a party or event is like walking into a midterm. One must be fully prepped and seasoned to do extremely well. Outliers are interesting, but we’re not hear to talk about that. First make a to-do list (what to do before, during, after). A full cleaning of the home must be completed prior to the party. It’s okay to do the same day, but the stress level will be higher. Guests notice things at venues. The floors, windows, trashcans, smells, countertops, sinks, toilet stains, towels.These things must be cleaned, not only for the sake of the guests, but for your sanity (mentally and physically). A fairly tidy space can go a long way and demonstrates care for those who have been invited. A prep-worked space shows that energy can easily flow through. It clears your mind, and your guests’ mind to think. Thinking is good for creativity, vulnerability and connectivity. It makes the morning after cleaning (which is necessary) a bit easier. Candles and more ice can be added minutes before beginning of the party. If cooking to impress, food should be prepped and ready for the demonstration.
Pro-tip: Give yourself a couple days to clean. Cleaning must be fully completed 1 hour before the party + however long it takes the host to get ready for the event.
Pro Pro-tip: Clean that night. If you’re to indisposed, well, get it together. Cleaning the night before is crucial to the integrity of the space. For those who like closing the party, say a host is exhausted or the party has exhausted itself, you may begin cleaning to suggest that the guests leave. They will. I promise.
This tip is usually a memorable moment that remains in the guest's mind for a while. For some reason, people are insecure at parties. They can also be timid. The idea of strangers becoming intimate in a space through connectivity, parameter, and cognitive changes (alcohol or such) can be rather shielding. Having a unique activity everyone can be a part of can be calming for the gathered. It allows the guests to come together over something no one expected to be a part of. I’ll let your mind wonder with this.
Pro-tip: Have a Polaroid camera set up for guests to take polaroids (arrival/departure pictures could be funny). Having everyone draw or sign a poster (we did a “2016 was..” and “2017 will be…” signage awhile back). Playing a tournament style game. Be creative here. I’ve asked local artist to help me with this before.
This tip is more variable, but should be covered. When having people come over we tend to forget what’s expected of the guests. A host should always remind the guests, in advance, with certain guidance for such occasions. Some examples are: where to park, how to enter building or home (codes), to use a car-sharing service, proper attire, party gifts, plus 1s, etc. This isn’t about being a control freak, but for giving mental space for the guests and host so they can enjoy the finer times at the party rather than the knit picky. Guest should follow the instructions. If suggestions or questions arise, one may contact the host to discuss.
Pro-tip: Mention instructions in the initial invite so guests can reference it the day of. It will also act as proof if a guest seems to have forgotten certain instructions.
This tip is another one that plays internally within the guests. One may be quite comfortable moving around their own home or venue on a daily basis. However, your guests aren’t use to such pathways or obstacles. Be mindful of how many guests will be attending your gathering and accommodate. A host may rearrange their seating space around the area to curate the amount of people per area. Pushing tables against a wall or moving benches and chairs into new rooms will make space more comfortable for guests, and not like they're intruding. Lighting is also extremely crucial. Too much overhead lighting could make guests feel like they’re center stage and scare them into a corner. A host should purchase a few candles, that don’t easily tip over, and set them around the house. A kindle soul once told me that candlelight makes people more attractive. To this day, guests will find candles at my parties or events. Not just because they make people more attractive, but the natural beauty of fire reminds us that there is beauty in what is natural.
Pro-tip: Purchase different color light bulbs and exchange with super cold lights. People are use to normal lights, so different color lights will make them feel as if they’re a part of a special occasion. Dim the living room lights and lights in the dinner space. Remember to have candle back-ups.
Last, but certainly not least, the fluids of life. How we’ve all attended parties and had something to say about the beverages being served. We think that drinks equals fun. That is not the case entirely. A host should be fully aware of what to serve, and be very specific, depending on what type of occasion they’re having. When it comes to alcohol, a host is dealing in the dark arts of poison. One must be careful. We cannot say what exactly should be served, as there is an occasion for everything. Cocktails, Kegs, Punchbowls/pitchers, Spirits. Read your guest list carefully and remember the type of gathering you are aiming for. Certain occasions call for certain methods. A host should stay within their budget, but we highly suggest never serving cheap alcohol. Cheap alcohol or running out of drinks can ruin the party or event, and have nasty ramifications after such a gathering. Suggestions are as followed: small gatherings admire the craft of a well designed cocktail, prepared pitchers of fruity drinks make serving beverages a breeze at busy parties, substitute the cheap Bud Lights and Michelob’s for hip cheap beer like Rolling Rock or Lone Star, asking a local brewery to sponsor with a keg can make a large gathering feel like VIP, and even combining some of these could allow the guest to feel like their time is being considered for attending.
Pro-tip: Once the guests who came to have a good time are all in attendance, the host may serve half shots of a specific spirit to spice up the party. The host may ask certain guests to help with this. Host may repeat this as needed. Drink responsibly.
I hope these tips help elevate your gatherings and create memorable experiences for all your guests. If you have any questions or other tips, please feel free to email us.
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