Lifestyle: How to Stay Sane When Hosting a Get-together
Friends and family heading to yours? Read on for tips that will help you stay the right side of frazzled before, during and after the event!
True, hosting a get-together will involve some work and thought, before and during the event, but it can also be a lot of fun and help to create a whole bevvy of warm, shared memories. So to feel happy about hosting, check out these tips to help you make it easier when preparing yourself and your home for a crowd.
Don’t worry if you run out of paper napkins or your vol au vents don’t rise. Remember that your friends and family have come to see you, not grade your cooking or critique your interior design! The key to a great get-together is the company and the more relaxed you are, the more successful the event will be.
The same goes for your home. It doesn’t need to look spotless or be formerly decked out, it just needs to feel ready and ordered enough to create a welcome, whether you’ll be nibbling bread and cheese round the kitchen table or staging a banquet in the dining room!
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This is not a sign of being a sloppy friend. Most guests love the chance to ease the pressure on their host and by bringing something along to the get-together, they also feel more involved. The contribution need not be food or wine, either. They could bring something for the house, such as paper decorations, party poppers, fairy lights, paper napkins or flowers for the table.
Be ready to rearrange your furniture to create plenty of spots for your guests to sit where needed. Bring kitchen chairs into the living room to ensure there are perches for everyone and think about who will be sitting down, too. Any senior members of your party may prefer an upright chair to a squidgy sofa, while lots of small children will happily squash up on a long bench, tucked against a wall.
Cooking and preparing food for a gathering takes time, no matter how low key you want it to be, and this can’t always happen in advance. You can still get ahead, however, by setting the table the night before. This will also alert you to any deficiencies. Do you need to bring a chair down from upstairs, pop an over-spill camping table up for the children to eat at, or find an extra plate or two?
For a large gathering, let your beautiful ceramics brighten up a wall or your dresser shelves and instead serve food on recycled paper plates, saving you lots of time washing up. Use recycled paper napkins, too.
So that you don’t spend the whole get-together fixing cocktails or topping up glasses, create a drinks station so that guests can help themselves. Use a retro hostess trolley, if you have one, or just clear some space on a kitchen worktop and arrange with bottles, glasses, an ice bucket and bottle opener.
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Think about what aspect of this get-together is most important to you. It might be the food, or how the table is decorated. It could be the music or creating some really atmospheric lighting. Focus on this priority and let the other aspects of hosting take a back seat. For example, if a killer playlist is vital to you, get this sorted and then cater with ready-prepared food dishes or pizzas.
Make sure that there is enough space for guests to stash their coats. Thin out your cloakroom or hallway hanging space and store your own coats temporarily upstairs to free up room for your guests’ bits and pieces. Check that there are enough hooks or hangers, too.
Take stock of your cutlery, plates and wine glasses. Do you have enough? Maybe you need to borrow some cutlery or use paper plates? Perhaps you could hire some glassware? While you’re at it, make sure that you have enough dishes and platters for the food you’re planning to serve, too.
Small children won’t enjoy sitting at the table for hours, so prepare some alternative activities for them. Colouring, ball games (if you have a big enough garden) or a fun craft project, such as making friendship bracelets, are all nice ideas.
How do you ensure you enjoy big get-togethers? Share your tips for hosting with a smile in the Comments below.