Throwing a good party is one of life's finest pleasures, but it can also be stressful and downright disastrous if it isn't handled correctly. One potential danger zone for party hosts in the 21st century is failing to understand proper hosting etiquette. Even in today's less-formal times, there are still several principles of etiquette to follow in order to prevent potential awkward or embarrassing moments for guests and hosts alike. Below are several of these etiquette fundamentals to keep in mind as a party host:
Before the party begins
Of course, proper party etiquette is more than a matter of what happens during the party itself. Instead, practicing good etiquette begins well before the party itself, in both the planning and invitation stages. The following is a list of specific things to keep in mind during the pre-party phase:
Schedule your party date carefully - While no date you choose to host your party may be perfect for everyone, it is inconsiderate to choose dates that are deliberately difficult for guests that you know will expect to be invited. In addition, make every effort to avoid scheduling a party on a date that is going to compete for your guests' time; for example, if you are aware of a wedding that impacts your circle of friends, be sure not to host your party on that date. You will not have the attendance desired, and the bride and groom may be offended by your seeming disregard for their big day.
Make your invitations clear and concise - In the 21st century, invitations don't have to be mailed, as electronic invitations are perfectly fine for most events. However, regardless of how you make contact, Invited guests deserve to receive invitations that are clearly worded and that get to the point. Be sure to include basic information about where and when, but also give guests a sense about the party's planned duration and other relevant details, such as appropriate dress. In addition, provide RSVP information so that guests are able to let you know if they are attending.
Be ready to go on-time - Though it is polite for guests to arrive a few minutes late, it is never appropriate for a host not to be ready to receive guests after the stated time. That is why you should make every effort to have all things in order, including food preparation, and be dressed appropriately when it's time to begin.
During the party
When the main event starts, you still have a number of responsibilities centering around etiquette. If you keep in mind that you are "in charge" of the party, then you will actually find that the party will go much more smoothly and appropriate etiquette will be maintained. Here are a few ways to go about it:
Redirect inappropriate conversation - Should you find an uncomfortable conversation developing, then you will need to step in and redirect the participants to prevent a mood-killing moment from occurring. By all means allow guests to freely mingle and talk, but whenever the conversation centers around religion, politics and other hot-button issues, be on the alert. An easy, elegant way to put a halt to this type of chatter is to intervene with an unrelated question to the conversants. This should send a subtle message and help guests self-correct their behavior.
Be an orchestra director - Just as a well-written piece music has its own ebb and flow and is blended together to create one voice, a successful party should have the same feel. That is why you should be willing to jump in whenever necessary with an announcement, introductions, music or some other means of getting the party rolling again. Do not become self-absorbed or spend your time with one guest exclusively, as you should always be ready to act.
Be gracious above all - As a host, you must be willing to take a chance that something could disturb your best plans. Spills can happen, guests can drink too much and you may run out of food. Never express frustration where guests can see it, but always maintain a happy-go-lucky attitude and keep a smile on your face. If you are worried about something precious being damaged, take care of it before the party begins.
Give your guests a hearty goodbye - Once the party begins to wind down and people start to leave, make it a point to provide a handshake or hug, as appropriate, to each guest as they leave. Be sure to help guests gather their possessions, such as coats, cell phones, and keys, to prevent frustrations about leaving something behind.
Keep these ideas in mind as you chose a place to host your holiday parties this year.