Growing up my Mom would often host friends at our home, whether it be to celebrate the holiday season, a birthday or nothing at all. I left Oklahoma when I was just sixteen for boarding school, so her hosting was always a chance for me to see some of my old friends whenever I would come home.
In college, my best friend and I often found ourselves hosting wild and typically late night parties at our apartment. Now as an adult, I love to host. I love all the details, planning and personalization that goes into having your friends over and what is more fun than bringing people together. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so to keep myself sane, I always prep the night before. The house needs to be totally clean with full rolls of toilet paper in the bathrooms, the menu needs to be seasonal, surprising and work for all my friends with allergies and dietary restrictions and there has to be just the right amount of alcohol (aka always have more than you think you will need). Oh and the music is key. I will usually tap a friend for her perfect playlist. The idea is to keep everyone comfortable and give them what they want. In the end, it’s never going to be perfect, but you gotta just go with it and like everything else, practice makes perfect. The more experience you have, the better and more confidant of a host you will be become.
Since December is the ultimate celebratory month, I thought I would share a few of the best tips I’ve picked up over the years. Here’s what you need to know before your next party:
Tip 1: Be mindful of the powder room. Keep a cool mouthwash near the sink, you never know who might feel like they need a swish swish. Candles are great too. I like to keep them lit in the bathrooms to make people feel more comfortable.
Tip 2: If you are serving dinner, set out place cards. There is nothing more awkward that people having to fight over their seat. Trust me, this will ease everyones mind and signal that your dinner is of importance.
Tip 3: Don’t waste money on expensive glassware and napkins. Buy in bulk because they easily break and get stained. These Pottery Barn linen napkins are they best. They look so expensive, yet you can throw them in the washing machine. You can even get them monogrammed.
Tip 4: Always serve appetizers. Crudités (with this dip), crostini or soup shooters will keep people from drinking too much while they wait for dinner and it will keep them out of the kitchen. Should you not be having dinner, make sure you have plenty of snacks. I’ll typically serve an equal(ish) balance of healthy vs. something more indulgent or festive. I am very into presentation and these cheese knives make it easy. Radishes (left with the green stem on) dipped in pretty bowl of my sister’s salt in another one of my go-tos. On the dinner table, I like to leave her salts around the table. They are so good and everyone can customize their own plate. They make everything taste better.
Tip 5: Make sure you have a steady supply of champagne because champagne is always the answer. It gives the feeling of “we have something to celebrate!” even when you don’t. And don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune. My personal favorite is McFadden’s sparkling wine. It’s $25 and it’s the best thing ever. I drink this like water. Complete the look with these adorable cocktail napkins.
Tip 6: Don’t go overboard with your look – keep it classic and comfortable. A light wash of foundation with a pop of something bright will say, “Hey I am confidant in my own skin.” Ditch your high heels for something flat. The guests are on your home turf, after all. Keep your hair neatly pinned back and splash on Chanel’s reinvented No. 5.