For many, hosting a party is a challenge that can be as daunting as public speaking!  Why? Because there are so many important elements to manage in order to create a memorable party experience: the food, cocktails, guests, music, the venue, décor, ambience, and the list goes on.  But we’re here to tell you that you can host a festive gathering, whether it’s a backyard barbeque or a sit-down holiday dinner for 12.  So take a deep breath and consider these fundamental tips.


  • Recruit a few friends to arrive early and put them to work with light duties such as arranging appetizers into serving trays or organizing a self-serve bar area. Catching up quickly with friends while you handle last-minute party prep will make you feel relaxed and ready for the night.
  • Don’t Be A Super Hero! Do you want to spend time in your kitchen or do you want to spend quality time with guests? Don’t fall into the typical hostess trap that says you have to do everything yourself, including making all of the food.  If you have the budget for it, let a professional catering company do what they do best, create delicious food that your guests will be talking about long after the party.  For more casual gatherings, you can find quality appetizer trays and other party offerings at finer grocery stores, such as Publix. Bottom line: If you’re able to enjoy yourself and mingle with the crowd, so will your guests.
  • Create a warm, friendly atmosphere. Use lighting, scents and sounds to create the right mood for your party.  Keep your lights slightly dimmed and then accentuate rooms with an assortment of beautiful candles.  Perhaps your kitchen already has an inviting aroma from the delicacies that you’ve prepared but if not, scented candles are another good option.  Pre-program your music playlist beforehand starting with fun, energetic tunes as guests arrive and then transition into something comfortable and jazzy for the dinner hour. No time to create a playlist? Simply select a Pandora station based on the genre that you want to hear.
  • Make guests feel as comfortable as possible by leaving no detail unturned. Nothing kills the party mood faster than having to ask your host for things like toilet paper or a plunger. Awkward. Ensure that emergency items are fully stocked under the sink or in a pretty container where guests can quietly help themselves.
  • Above all: Stay cool if things go wrong! Major drama unfolding between neighbors with differing politics? Did the kitchen flood as you’re about to serve dinner? Just play it cool like the gracious hostess that you are and guests will take their cue from you. Breathe, smile and try to remember that some things really are out of your control. And that’s okay. Ultimately, your friends are there because they enjoy your company and will be amazed and inspired by your composure.