Don’t let quarantine put you in a funk, the best part about having time is being able to plan ahead. If you’re anything like me then you’ve used your time to pick up a new skill or brush up on an old one. I love being a host and having friends over and cooking for them. Something about a party and get-togethers gives me an adrenaline rush. I also love the idea of making memories and watching people have a great time. So this blog felt like something I should have written a while ago. Now, of course, I had to do a lot of research because there are also proper ways to host a party and be a gracious host as well. So without wasting any more time let’s dive into the point I have for you all.
Things to do before your party begins:
1) Make sure your house is clean and smells nice
This one is a rather obvious point to make a note of, make sure this is a task you do on the day of the event. Use a party like a spring cleaning episode of your life. You want your house to be clean and neat but not sterile in a way that doesn’t feel welcoming to your guests. I love seating with levels, so floor seating is also a must according to me. I would make sure to have a demarcated space for your guest shoes if you especially prefer people to move about without footwear in your home. Nothing looks worse than shoes piled up outside your front door. Your front door also needs to have a lil decoration, you could just set up some lights and flowers outside your door.
I always like walking into a home that smells nice and not just like the food I’m about to eat. Now, this is hard in Indian homes because well the aroma of Indian food will inevitably escape your kitchen door if you have one. Make sure you set up bowls of potpourri all over and some Aer packets around the house especially your bathroom. Don’t forget to clean up in your bathroom, no one needs to see all your hair tools and bath products on display. You could light up some candles and fill up your space with some green plants.
2) Keep extra toilet paper handy and place it where it can be easily found
Following up on that conversation about bathrooms, make sure you have handwash and handsoap available. Always have a handtowel right next to your sink. Make sure you stock up your bathroom with enough toilet paper so people don’t have to come out and ask you for more. Make sure you have a pair of bathroom slippers outside your washroom in case the bathroom gets a bit wet from constant usage. If you have two washrooms make sure you let the men use one and the women the other just a purely aesthetic decision in nature.
3) Stock up on ice for your party
This one is always a huge issue, while you may set up a bunch of trays in your house. Different people take their drinks very differently, some may use a lot more ice than normal. Make sure you order up and find a way to store them for your party. A really cute trick for cocktails would be to get edible flowers and fill your ice trays, this would totally change the face of some of your cocktails.
4) Adjust the temperature of your house
I would make sure to turn on the air-conditioner an hour or so before the guests arrive. Just so that they walk into a cool environment. Unless it’s cold outside then please make sure to have a warm set up in place but this is an unlikely scenario in India. I always walk into homes that are really warm because the host prefers their windows open or for whatever reason doesn’t have the A/C on. This feels very uncomfortable because I tend to get warm when a space gets crowded. So please keep all of these factors in mind when working through the temperature setting.
5) Refresh the bar in your house with stock
I always like to check-in with my guest about their drink preferences. Some people don’t like to have an alcoholic beverage and in that case, I like to be prepared. Also, refresh the stock in your home, If someone says they might drink 3 beers always stock up on much more because once they get a bit jolly they might tack on more. Also, don’t put your entire collection on display it tends to look very tacky. So put away all your extra lovely bottles that don’t need to be pulled out unless it’s for a special occasion. Also, always have some coffee ready, a lot of people really do love a cup post their meals. Try to have a few interesting cocktails to get everyone’s spirits up because people don’t know this but they love fruity concoctions.
6) Please don’t expect your guests to pay for food when you invite them to your party
Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when that works. If it’s a random last-minute plan and all your friends decided to have an after-party at your house they won’t want to inconvenience you. They themselves will offer and it will work itself out. But, by no stretch of your imagination should you invite people and then expect them to pay for their own meal in your home. Always offer to pay for the starters and meal and ask people what they would like to have. If they still insist on getting their own meal then it’s fine. Otherwise, it is simply rude. Also always account for your vegan and vegetarian friends and have some tasty options for them as well including dessert.
7) Plan for your party well in advance
This is the most important part of being the hostess with the mostest. Plan, plan ahead of time. Make a list of all the people you wish to invite. How you envision the decor, do you want to have a theme party? Make a list of how many people eat meat and how many don’t. Organise an ice-breaker if you’re inviting people who are meeting for the first time. Always introduce people to one another with a few lines about the person and what they do. Make a seating chart if this is a sit-down dinner. Think of what linen and plates and crockery you wish to use.
Make a playlist with a healthy mix of everyone’s musical preferences if this is a small group. If it’s a large one then mix your English and Bollywood. Don’t be afraid to own your Indianess, it’s very in, in other parts of the world. Make notes of the menu and when you pull out your showstopper dishes you’re going to serve up in. Put post-it’s in the dishes so you know what is being served in which dish. Be prepared for every eventuality. Plan out how you want your table to look as well and what other whimsical little elements will find its way to your table decor. Treat linen-like an embellishment, it should be floral or embellished. Also, make sure to decide your lighting. Lighting should not be too dark or too bright. Make sure that it creates a romantic ambience of softness.
Don’t do anything on the last day, do everything a week in advance. Apart from the food that needs to be made on the day off of course. Plan 3 topics of interest, read up on it and be a conversation starter. One important thing to keep in mind, plan your menu not to be outlandish, have 3 outlandish dishes and 3 rice dishes for those guests who knocked back 3 or 4 drinks and who have no idea what they’re eating and could care less about what you’re serving. And please remember to give everyone attention at the party and say one special thing to everyone who attended. This will definitely leave people with a happy memory of you and please don’t forget your own family at the party.
Things to do when your party begins:
1) Extend a formal party invitation
After the planning stage, make sure you give your guest an advance notice and either call or drop everyone a message personally. No broadcast messages, I repeat no broadcast messages. Try to invite different sets of people who will make the party an engaging and memorable one. Invite the funny one, the grumpy one, the hoity-toity one and many more types of people because you never know who will get along with whom.
2) Sincerely welcome your guests at the door
Always important to be the person greeting your guests at the door. Please do not have the staff or another guest attend to the doorbell for you. It would be extremely impolite.
3) Greet them with a hug and offer something to eat or drink
I’m not a hugger, ok, but etiquette demands me to hug someone at the door then I will. I want people to feel warm and welcomed. Always ask at the door if they would like a drink or a snack and also invite them to help themselves through the night. So best show them where they can find more food and drink if you have a table laid out for the same.
4) Offer a place to set their things
Most people in India will show up with a bag and maybe their work laptop if it is after their working hours. Always have a designated space for their belongings that doesn’t create clutter in your home or in the party area.
5) Provide comfortable seating options
Always have extra seats and room for people to sprawl out and relax, I love creating levels with my seating and as I mentioned above. Floor seating is a must to create that vibe. Crystal and colourful glass dishes are the best to use when serving your food. Present the food on different levels, you can use cake platter to create a distinction and this also helps utilise the space on the table adequately. Always have tabs next to your dishes for people to understand what they are about to eat. Play around with the colour of the food, just for embellishments. Don’t be ashamed to mix and match the plates you have, especially if you don’t have 24 of the same kid. This would make your table decor far more eclectic than usual.
6) How to serve all this delicious food
Firstly, you want to work on a centrepiece. Flowers are always nice but imagine how much nicer a fun looking type of breadbasket would look. It’s always nicer to have buffet laid out, so there’s no imposition of when people actually get to eat. What you serve up the food in is just as important as the food itself.
7) Play a game
Omg, this is my favourite part. Plan a few games that you could play with your friends. I promise you it will be more than entertaining. Games will bond you to your friends and create memories to last a lifetime.
8) Party favors
It’s always nice to send people home with something to remember the night by. A small token, what would be fun is to have a polaroid camera on stand by and take photos with every single person. Before they leave; put this photo in a pretty envelope and let them have it as a memory. You could alternatively have little potted cacti as gifts to give people as well or seeds in recycled paper as party favors too.
Things to do as a guest:
- If you’re a guest always RSVP and don’t just show up
What are some of the tips you keep in mind when planning a party? Let me know in the comments below.
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