a good host

The Ultimate Guide to Being a Good Host

To be a good host, you need to be warm, welcoming, and make your guests feel at home. This means introducing them to each other, offering them food and drinks, and generally creating a fun and happy environment. If you can get everything ready and have fun while keeping an eye on the party, then you’ll be a great host at your next boisterous party.

Make preparations

You must have enough food and drink for everyone.

When throwing an adult party, the number one rule is never run out of drinks. You can of course ask sober guests to go to the liquor store, but if you want to have a successful party then make sure there is enough food and drink for everyone. Buy different types of alcohol and lots of snacks so there is something for each of your guests. If you’re going to be serving dinner at the party, make that clear in advance so your guests will bring an appetite. If you only want to offer snacks, make that clear so your guests have eaten beforehand. It’s important that you have enough drinks, as your guests will leave and see that things quiet down once the alcohol has run out. Always buy 25% more drinks than you think you need; you can always drink the rest later or give guests a bottle of wine to take home. Buy more food than you think you need. Buy a little more non-perishable goods, like chips, so you can save them for guests who might not be able to get them.

Create a warm, inviting atmosphere.

As you clean your home and prepare it for the party, you want to make sure the atmosphere is such that your guests can settle in, hang out, and feel relaxed. That means lots of seating, coasters for people to put their drinks on, and furniture placed to keep the space as open as possible so people don’t split into small groups. You should also add enough warm, soft lighting so guests can see each other and don’t feel sleepy. However, too many harsh, bright lights can make guests uncomfortable. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature and that you often ask your guests if they are too warm or too cold. When it’s fall, holidays, or some other festive season, you can add small, appropriate decorations to your home for your guests.

Leave some items lying around that will spark conversation.

To be on the safe side, leave some items around your home for guests to talk about when the conversation gets stale. You can leave a collection of musical albums, a photo album or some souvenirs from your last trip. Some focal points give your guests something to ask you about or talk about. A unique aperitif or mixed drink that guests have never seen before gives them something to talk about.

Make sure your guests can take care of themselves most of the time.

While you can’t guarantee this for everyone, if you want to throw a successful party, you should try to invite guests who are of a similar temperament or who share at least some of the same interests. While it’s nice to have completely different people in the same room mingling and having fascinating conversations, you want to make sure you don’t have too many “problem” people in the same room or you could get into trouble. Knowing that your guests can generally get by on their own will make you less stressed when the party takes place.

Give your guests all the necessary information in advance.

If you want to be a successful host, tell your guests when and where the party is and what they should and shouldn’t bring. You don’t want them to come to a Santa party empty-handed or bring tons of beer when you already have two small kegs. Let them know all the details about your party at least a week in advance. If they don’t already have your phone number, give it to them so they can call you with questions or if they can’t find your house. If you want a themed party or a very elegant party, then give people at least a week to prepare an appropriate outfit.

Prepare everything in time.

You should have drinks and snacks ready at least an hour before you think you’re done with anything. While you don’t want to leave the guacamole out for an extra hour or two, prepare as much food and drink as you can ahead of time so guests don’t come when you’ve just started baking the pumpkin pie. Being ready when the first guests arrive can help you throw a better party. Leave a few simple chores in the kitchen for the last few minutes. This is a great opportunity for shy guests who would like to help you. Don’t be ashamed to ask a friend for help when throwing a big party. It can be more fun to prepare everything for the party with a friend.

Host a successful party

Welcome your guests.

You want to be as warm and inviting as possible when your guests arrive. Smile at them, hug them, ask them how they are, and make them feel like you’re really excited and happy that they’re here. You should also tell them where to leave or keep their shoes, hang up or tell them where to hang their coats, and take away any food or drink they brought with them. Make every guest feel comfortable and welcome the moment they walk through the door.

Help them get their bearings.

If many guests have never been to your place before, you should briefly show them where the kitchen, bathroom, patio, or anything else they’re looking for is. This way they feel at home and don’t have to ask many questions later. If many guests arrive at once, make sure you tell everyone where everything is as soon as possible.

Offer your guests food and drinks.

Once you’ve welcomed your guests and shown them where everything is, put something to eat or drink in their hands. If you’re having a non-alcoholic party, give everyone a drink to make people feel comfortable and get the party started as soon as possible. People may be reluctant to ask for food or drinks, so offer them what they need as soon as possible. Open people’s beer if they want it, pour them wine if they want it, or offer them liquor if they crave it. You don’t want the party to get too loud too quickly, of course, so you can skip the hard stuff for now or offer it up later in the evening. You should also find out in advance whether your guests have allergies and tell your guests which food is peanut-free, gluten-free, meat-free, etc. You should also offer soda, juice, and other non-alcoholic beverages so non-drinkers don’t feel left out.

Introduce your guests to each other.

Another duty you have as a host is making sure your guests meet each other and find something to talk about. If it’s a larger party and not everyone knows everyone, introduce your guests and briefly explain their connection to you while discussing something they might have in common. You can say something like, “Sue, this is Joey, one of my childhood friends. Joey, this is Sue. She works with me at school.” You can also say something they have in common. For example, say, “Isn’t it funny that you’re both from Alaska?” or “You two are the most loyal Lakers fans I know.”. Also, look out for guests who seem lonely or don’t talk much. Introduce her to people you think might like her.

Walk around

To keep the party atmosphere fun and friendly, walk around and mingle with all of your guests. You don’t want any of your guests to feel neglected in relation to other guests and you need to see how all your guests are doing and what they need to make them feel wanted and welcome at your party. Mingle with guests at least every 10-15 minutes to strike up new conversations or bring a new drink and more food to a guest if he/she needs it. Try to have fun at your own party while being mindful of your guests’ needs. If you find the conversations getting stale, try bringing a new group of people together or breaking up the conversation for a larger group.

Offer entertainment, but don’t force it.

You should have some entertainment ready in case your guests get jaded or just to get things going. Keep in mind that some people come to parties just to hang out, and you don’t want your guests to feel pressured into party games or activities they don’t want to do. However, it is good to be prepared just in case. Here are some things you can try: Board games such as Cluedo or Game of Life Other games such as Twister Video games A fun outdoor activity in your backyard such as cornhole, horseshoes, or bocce.

Don’t leave your guests alone for too long.

Also, if you need to go to the kitchen to get more drinks or prepare food, or you need to do something else, as a general rule, don’t leave guests alone for more than a few minutes at a time. Remember that you are the heart of the party and it is up to you to ensure your guests have a good time and make them feel welcome and comfortable. It’s especially important to be there when many guests don’t know each other and need you to help introduce people to each other. It’s okay to ask a close friend to help you with something party-related, like mixing more drinks or cleaning up, so you spend less time away from the guests.

Bring everything under one roof

Don’t clean up when your guests are still there.

If you want to be a good host, don’t clean while your guests are still there, no matter what the cost. While you can clean up spilled drinks or some little things that happen, if you’re in the kitchen washing up glasses and bowls during the party, your guests will take it as a sign to leave. Even if you hate seeing chaos, always remember that a fun celebration is more important than having everything clean when the last guests leave. Even if there are only a few guests left, Clean up sends the signal that you want them to leave. If you really want the party to be over, then be honest rather than hoping they can read the signs correctly. You can also ask a friend or two to stay ahead of time and help you clean up afterwards. With this, you don’t have to worry about making a big mess of yourself at the end of the party.

Keep Calm When Something Causes Chaos.

If someone spills wine on your carpet, tips over a bowl of nachos, or accidentally knocks over a drawing, try not to act too upset or make your guests feel bad about what happened. You’ve decided to throw the party, and big chaos is part of it. Seeing that you’re upset or stressed will make your guests feel miserable and people will think you’re too uptight to have a fun party. Just say something like, “Don’t worry about it. It happens all the time at parties, it’s no big deal.” If you don’t want to break something that means a lot to you, you can take valuable keepsakes, vases, or souvenirs elsewhere before the party starts.

Make your guests feel welcome until the end of the night.

You should be warm and welcoming to your guests throughout the party. If you’ve set an end date and it’s not there yet, do your best to continue being a good host and to make other people feel welcome in your home. You don’t want guests to suddenly feel like a burden to you or want them to go home already. Remember that you’ve decided to throw a fun party and now you have to go through with it.

Consider giving your guests party favors.

When your party wraps up, you can give your guests something to take home, whether it’s a little special holiday favor, cookies you baked earlier, or even leftover food or drinks. This makes them feel like they are part of the party and have taken part in a very special event. Doing a party favor isn’t strictly necessary, and simply giving guests something small as a memento can make them feel like the party was more than a success. Sending your guests home with extra food and drinks also avoids filling your house with too many things you don’t use.

Thank your guests for coming.

It’s important to let your guests know how much it meant to you that they came to your party when they’re about to leave. Thank them for taking the time to hang out, bring what they brought, and just for being pleasant, fun guests at your party. It makes them feel like you’ve taken good care of them and done a great job of hosting. You can also mention the next time you’d like to hang out with the guests, so you’ll have more parties on the horizon to look forward to – which you don’t always have to host, of course!


About the Author

Helen Miller

Helen Miller is a freelance writer at CouponKirin. She covers personal finance topics in a syndicated column that appears in Financial Planning Magazine. Her work has been featured by Market Watch, Digital Journal, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Yahoo Finance. Helen has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles.