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On the heels of my previous post about simple recipes made for slow gatherings, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips when hosting a get-together or party. Slow hosting, if I may term it as such, takes upfront planning and work. Intentionality is key when deciding what to do in preparation. You could fall down rabbit holes and never dig your way out when considering what details need attending.
Surely, there are sources out there overwhelmingly filled with styling and decor, recipes of feasts fit for kings, as well as libation ideas invented by only the best bartenders. Perhaps I am alone in this, but I’ve fallen privy to over-thinking, and certainly over-doing, a few of my past parties. It’s easy to fall into that trap. However, it’s just as easy to avoid it, as long as I pay attention to a few details.
There are a few things about myself and hosting that I’ve learned to be true.
- I would rather be a guest to my own party than a server and maid.
- I would rather participate in deep conversations, delving into original ideas or passionate opinions, than skim the superficial waters of, “hi, how are you?”.
- I would rather have a good, relaxing evening rather than stress and worry.
- I want to care about the important things in life, like friends and family.
- And lastly but most importantly, I want to have a good time with my husband rather than begrudgingly nitpick over details regarding some preformed, overly high expectation. I’ve found that if I set the bar too high for a gathering, I set the success rate extremely low for us as a couple.
So I’ve gathered a few tricks that keep me grounded when it comes to throwing parties. I hope it preps you for the future, where we will surely make up for lost time, gathering in safety and in peace.
- Opt for a table cloth to immediately dress up any table. Seriously, after this, I feel like the decor is done.
- Put down the table setting prior to your guests arriving to reduce work once the party starts.
- Add simple stems in amber bottles or stick tall candlesticks in candle holders, rather than investing in expensive bouquets.
- Forgo the place cards. Let guests sit where they like and mingle as they please.
- Forget hanging up banners and buying party balloons, or other disposable item that will only add to the landfill. Trust that your home is good enough to celebrate in, without the temporary frills.
- Place a linen napkin out for each guest, to reduce the amount of times you need to get up from the table to grab the paper towels.
- Opt for glassware that can hold water, wine, beer or cocktail, in order to reduce the dishes you need to set out (and later wash).
- Limit the amount of food types or drinks available. Sometimes, I have a theme or a set menu so as not to overwhelm the guests, or myself.
- Choose recipes that can be made ahead of time. I am not only talking about side dishes and salads. I also include desserts and appetizers.I try to keep the main entree fresh.
- Instead of mixing cocktails (which should really be fresh), opt for sangria or table wine. Also, beer or mimosas. Simple things that get the job done.
- Clear the table at the very end, but toss all the dishes in the dishwasher (my favorite) or the sink. Do not wash them while the guests are here. There is time for that later. No space? A fellow small-home-dweller actually stashes them in the bathtub, to address after the guests have left, which I thought was genius.
- Don’t be afraid of ordering food. You’d be surprised how many people favor pizza or Chinese take-out. You’re not a 1950’s housewife who has to prove your worth in the form of housewivery. You’re feeding a group of people who already love you for who you are. It’ll be fine.
- Avoid white noise. That includes music. I suppose depending on the party. I dislike pausing conversation to lift up the needle on the record player. I also dislike when a playlist stops suddenly and someone has to fumble with a phone. My opinion is that, unless your gathering is focused on music listening, music is a distraction.
- Don’t plan an itinerary. Trust that as the night progresses, things will naturally fall into place.
- Ensure that there’s a hand towel and toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. Light a candle and set out hand soap.
- Avoid the goodie bags and give-aways. It requires too much extra work and creates too much extra trash. If you really want to have the guests take home something, opt for consumables. One year for Thanksgiving, we gave away a jar of our favorite enchilada sauce, which we cooked and packaged the evening before. Another year, we baked everyone pastries for the following morning.
- Finally, let go. Let go of all your expectations. Let go of the pretty Instagram pictures. Let go of your guarded nature. Just be a guest, really.