Monday, February 28, 2011

How to be a Helluva Host

You know what my problem is? Deciding what appetizers to make for a party. Either I jot down WAY too many things on my idea list or can't think of anything at all. The rendez-vous I hosted recently? You should have seen my idea list. I honestly could have thrown each idea into a hat and pulled out a few randomly.

Never done that before, but it is definitely a thought for when I am being indecisive...An idea for you too if you are anything like me. Anyhow, the get-together I hosted was a Mary Kay party. Not many people came, but nothing wrong with a small party! Any party is a good party, right?! I love hosting events. Back home, in Ohio, I would have movie nights, pajama parties, Jersey Shore jams (yes, I give into reality tv), and your basic, classy dinner dates. Ask anybody, what do they remember most about my parties? The food. Heck, they barely remember my company, but if I can get them to remember all the tasty things they put in their mouth, I'll take that. I'll never forget what a friend said to me: "Your the best ****ing wife ever!!!!" That made my day. Though I'm not one who loves the F word, that was definitely an exception.

Even though I consider myself a decent host, I picked up a library book called It's Just a Dinner Party, a how-to-host self-help book. I actually gained some insight reading this book! And lucky for you, I am going to share the things that I never knew.

  • This is pretty much a given, but a great reminder. "The foundation of all social entertaining is the guests. After all, it wouldn't be a party without them, would it?" With that said, always make sure your guests are comfortable and happy. One thing that I found to be very important is that guests are at your party to visit YOU! Not to be impressed. The authors stress that your guests are not there to see your newly remodeled bathroom or your expensive china. Sometimes, we get caught up in showing off our things--I've done this before. But now I am going to be more careful.
  • Food. Lots of advice featured, so I'm going to pick my favorites.
    • Don't submit your guests to your diet. Use salt, butter, oils, sugar, and other non-dietetic ingredients.Follow classic, time-tested recipes and menus. Don't make a recipe that is out of your skill level.
    • Have a big variety. People have allergies and preferences.
    • Have plenty of ice! Better to have a lot than not enough.
    • Wine: go with a bottle that has a cork.
    • Use unscented candles in dining areas.
  • Space.
    • Hot rooms make people sleepy, while cool air keeps them awake.
    • Open your curtains and blinds, even at night.
    • Remove decorative pillows from couches if you expect people to sit down.
    • If you value any particular items, put them away or don't allow yourself to fixate on them.
  • What to do before the party:
    • Empty all trashcans and put fresh bags in them
    • Run then empty the dishwasher
    • Clear off your kitchen counters as best as possible
    • Clear a section on your kitchen counter for dirty dish stacking
  • Dogs & cats. If you have pets, put them away. Now. Not everyone thinks that your dog is as cute as you do. Sadly. And if someone brings a dog to your party unexpectedly, don't make a big deal out of it. "Let the pooch in, and treat old Sparky like he's the guest's child. Yes, do this even if the dog has muddy paws, bad breath and fleas--and you dislike dogs. That dog is now your guest."
  • Don't say these things!
    • "Have you gained weight?"
    • "You look tired."
    • "Why don't you have kids?"
    • "How much did that cost?"
    • "Have you found a job yet?"
    • "Did I hear that your dog just died?"
    • "The last time I saw you, you were so drunk!"
    • "Are you pregnant?"
There is also a section on how to be a good guest. I thought I would share this too..You know, since we are all partiers!

*Respond to invitations in a timely, thoughtful manner
*Don't ask if you can bring an additional guest
*Don't even think about bringing anyone uninvited; this includes children
*If you offer help, and the host declines, don't push the issue
*Dress appropriately
*Be prompt
*If you wish to bring a hostess gift, bring something thoughtful and leave your expectations (of prominent display or gushing) behind.
*Be as pleasant as possible. Be social. Mingle.
*Be complimentary (but sincere), and never criticize the host.
****Don't talk on the cell phone or make calls or otherwise give the impression that you would rather be elsewhere.
*Don't drink too much!
*Try not to leave early (even if the party's dreadful). If you must, have a good reason.
*Send a proper, handwritten thank-you note immediately after the party. (I've never got ONE!! sad.)


I thought I would share some photos of the appetizers I chose to make. Let me know if you want the recipe for any!

 French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms

Caprese Salad

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

Chocolate covered strawberries and Mandarin oranges


Lemon Cucumber water (Sooo refreshing!)

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." -Virginia Woolf

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