Playing host comes in many different guises whether you’re cooking for relatives, having bravely decided to hold NYE celebrations round yours or simply even putting a friend up for the night. Ultimately, being a great host comes down to a few simple things. Read on to discover whether you’re doing it right, or if there are some tips and tricks you might pick up along the way…
C U S T O M I S E
To really nail the hosting game, you need to customise the experience. Think about who your guests are. When you’re cooking for the in-laws, consider the types of people you’re looking after. Do they drink red wine? Like playing games? Prefer to discuss current affairs? Perhaps you’re having uni mates to stay… recreate your favourite cocktails and make a playlist of some nostalgic songs you can all
sing scream along to! Tailor the experience to them. It should feel natural, so that upon returning home they realise how comfortable (and hopefully enjoyable) their time with you was. Remember – true hospitality is subtle.
P L A N A H E A D
Most of the time, you’re playing host because you’re facilitating the meeting of people whether it be one or fifty! There will be varying degrees of responsibilities that you will have while guests are in your company so don’t underestimate the power of planning ahead. Cooking for multiple people can be stressful, so it’s worth road-mapping the evening. Your guests are here to see YOU, so whilst ensuring everything’s of the best standard – if it’s at the sacrifice of you being good company, it might be simpler to order a takeaway! If you’re hosting solo, think about how to keep your guests entertained in the moments you’ll inevitably be tending to the food. If you’re hosting in a pair, allocate roles so that you’re not neglecting your guests at any point. Always serve drinks on arrival and have snacks free-flowing so no one goes hungry (even if you did forget to turn the oven on…).
P A M P E R Y O U R G U E S T S
A certain level of pampering must occur in order to show your guests a good time. The moment they step through the door, offer to take their coat, stow their bags, show them where the bathroom is – make them feel immediately comfortable. Mi casa es su casa… and all that. Hospitality is KEY. If you’re hosting a manageable number, always keep drinks topped up. If it’s a party and people are bringing their own, offer them some fizz on arrival – they’ll instantly be made to feel welcome and considered. Then – leave them space in the fridge and show them where to find glasses, ice etc.
T H E B A S I C S
If you have people to stay, don’t forget the basics! The room you’ve designated them to sleep in becomes their space – tell the kids to keep out and be sure to knock before entering. When they arrive – offer them a cuppa, have clean towels on the bed, a glass for water and if you’re really looking for maximum hosting points – even a spare dressing gown! Let them know how things tend to run in your house so they’re not surprised by unusual morning activity and tell them it’s OK to enjoy a lie-in.
S E T T H E M O O D
Ambiance is a major player in ensuring your guests enjoy spending time at your place. Main lights rivalling that of a hospital ward will not make your home seem friendly, it’s not conducive to creating a party vibe either! Adjust the lighting to feel warm and cosy – candles on the table if you’re eating is a nice touch. However, be wary of going too dark – the meal you’ve spent hours creating shouldn’t boil down to a taste test! If it’s a party, be creative – things like lanterns or fairy lights in jars are easy extras that take the mood from zero to a hundred.
There are a few must-do’s to ensure you become a great host, tick these of before your next invite goes out:
- DO make a dish you’re well versed at cooking. Experimenting with something new, coupled with the stress of hosting is a recipe for disaster!
- DO plan for every occasion. Meal gone wrong? Have an easy alternative on standby… or the number for Domino’s.
- DO have lots of mixers in the fridge – it’s less for your guests to carry plus they double up as soft drinks for anyone who’s driving.
- DO try to have fun. Forward planning will leave more time for you to enjoy yourself.
- DO go with the flow. If the evening isn’t quite going the way you’d expected, go with it (unless for any reason it’s weird, then you need to reassess your company…!)
- DO go above and beyond to ensure your guests feel comfortable. They’ll leave on a high and you’ll feel a sense of achievement! You did it!