The E-Word – entertain, can really rattle some people. If you are used to being the guest versus being the host(ess), even considering entertaining family and friends may shake you up a bit. Contrarily, if you are the master host who regularly has family and friends over, today’s post will merely be a refresher, with perhaps a few new nuggets that you can use at your next event.
So, how is it done? How do you position and prepare yourself to host your own event? While being a seasoned, experienced and efficient event host takes a while to master, you can certainly pull off a dynamic event by following some key elements:
Mind Your Guest List
Your guest list just as important as the event itself. Unless you are in to planning and solely attending your own events, you’ll need some guests to make the event complete. Now, here’s the thing, which we mentioned in Wednesday’s blog post – Yes, YOU can host a dinner party too, all of your friends or acquaintances may not be complimentary of each other. So, this means that you’ll need to give some honest and careful thought to your guest list. Complimentary personalities does not mean that everyone must be a parent, attended an Ivy League School or work in government. This just means that you will have to ask yourself some simple, yet effective questions in determining who is best to attend THIS particular event.
- What is the maximum number of people my venue can hold?
- Is there a theme for this event? Is my guest list representative of people that I would enjoy being around and would they embrace this theme?
- Does my guest list consist of people who will only talk about themselves or are they open to collective discussions?
- Is my guest list filled with people who have picky personalities that would pick this event apart piece by piece and make my night a challenge?
Now, you certainly don’t want to alienate your potential guests solely because they are picky or have certain expectations, but you do have to ensure that your event goes the way that you planned it. In a perfect world, you’d be able to invite any and everyone, but if you really want to have a successful, enjoyable and peaceful evening, do give some thought to who’s on the list!
You Are The Event Host. Embrace It!
The bottom line is that you are the ringer leader, the front runner, the pioneer, the champion and the torch bearer for the event. People will likely accept an invitation to an event in large part because YOU invited them. While there may be good food planned, perhaps an expectation of great music and maybe event a hosted bar, many people would forego all of those things if the host left little to be desired personally. This is why you have to own this thing. This is your name, your vision, your personal brand out here, so invest some thinking and some planning into this!
Before your first guest knocks at your front door, rings your doorbell or sends that text that says, “I’m here”, you should already be in “host mode”. Host Mode (or as I referred to it in my wedding planning days, GO MODE) is when the imaginary director in your head says, ACTION. It is when you turn on your gracious ability to ensure guests are comfortable, snacks are being snacked on, libations are being poured and people are generally having a good time. Mentally switching to host mode ensures that you will be fully ready to engage with your guests instead of finishing up last minute things in preparation for their arrival.
As you think through your event and what’s going to happen, you’ll also have to make some decisions on what you’re not going to do that may conflict with your regularly scheduled life. For example, perhaps you are a huge fan of Game of Thrones (as many people are), but subjecting your guests to watch it just because the season finale is on and it happens to fall on the same day as your dinner party isn’t the best move. Now, if everyone that you invited is a huge Game of Thrones fan, perhaps its not that big of a deal, but if it will detract from the focus of the event or bore half of the crowd, perhaps its best to just save it for you to watch another day.
What’s On The Menu?
Whether you decide to go the cheese and crackers route or spring for sushi and an array of the finest cured meats, it is in your best interest to give some intentional thought to your menu selection. The menu selection starts with one fundamentally important component for all events, the five words that most of us dread hearing or considering – HOW MUCH IS YOUR BUDGET? Being honest, up front and accountable to your budget will make your event experience a positively memorable one. There’s nothing worse than wrapping up what you thought was a fantastic event, only to realize that you spent 200% of what you thought you were going to spend.
As you move towards actually selecting your food items, make sure that the items themselves are complimentary toward any activities that you have planned. Have you ever had a delicious meal and ended up feeling immobile for the remainder of the day? Do you want to have a philosophical conversation after the food is served? Are you planning to have open dancing? If your food selection has consisted of an array of comfort food like, mashed potatoes, short ribs, greens and cornbread, chances are your guests are going to be completely wiped out and very much uninterested in rigorous activities. When choosing your menu, be sure to keep your overall goals in mind.
Additionally, allergies are no longer a uniquely rare thing that just a few people have. About 1:5 people have some level of an allergic reaction to food. This means that if you took a quick poll of your immediate friend circle, at least one of those people will have a food allergy. Chances are, at least one of the people that you plan to invite to your event has a food allergy, so you may want to have multiple options to choose from, or if your guest list is small enough, take a poll to see what you’ll include and what’s left off the menu.
When guests arrive, you shouldn’t be still preparing food, cleaning up or getting yourself ready. There are ways that you can cook the meal yourself and still be in hostess mode when your guests arrive. If you go this route, you’ll just need to watch the time and ensure that you keep a to-do list to ensure that you’ll be ready to rock and roll when the first guest arrives. If you decide to go the route of cooking all of the food yourself as opposed to hiring a caterer, you may want to consider meal or grocery delivery that could assist with the added hassle of a trip to the grocery store.
As a treat to our Scarlet supporters and readers, and because I am an avid user of Hello Fresh, you now have an opportunity to try out your first Hello Fresh box at a deeply discounted rate. Hello Fresh provides weekly deliveries of farm fresh ingredients and delicious recipes to your doorstep. Visit their website and use the promotional code, Scarlet35, towards your first box.
Ok…now back to the list…
How Wet Is Your Bar?
Right up there with your food selection choice lies another event component that requires some intentional thought – the bar and beverage choices. Generally speaking, your beverage choices are:
Wet Bar: consists of complimentary alcohol beverages during the event. (also referred to as an Open Bar)
Dry Bar: is completely void of alcohol or in some cases, alcoholic drinks that you can purchase.
Moist Bar: may consist of complimentary beer and wine and in some cases alcohol is available for purchase. Your decision to serve (or not serve) alcohol at your event is completely yours, but if you decide to, consult your budget first. Alcohol and food are usually the most expensive elements of any event. While an open bar is certainly attractive and will be very welcomed by your guest, if you are looking to reduce costs, consider a moist bar.
Also consider that, there are many people who do not consume alcohol or consume it, but are at a particular point in their life where they can’t consume right now, like pregnant women or people who are on specific medications. Of course you can have carbonated beverages, juice tea and coffee on- hand, but you could also take it one step further and have non alcoholic cocktails.
Scarlet Says…at some point in your life you just might get an urge to switch roles from guest to event host, and when you do Scarlet wants you to make sure that you are cool, calm, collective and pleased with the event outcome. Give yourself sufficient planning time, use these tips to your advantage and most importantly take time for you to actually enjoy the event yourself. Happy Planning!
Until Next Time,