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How to Be a Good Party Host

Want to throw a great party? Be a good party host! Use our 10 tips for success.

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It’s All About the Guests

If you want to be a good party host, it’s all about the guests and making them feel like they never want to leave. That’s not so hard to do when there’s only a guest or two. But pulling that off for a bigger bash takes some planning and hosting know-how. These 10 tips will set you up for success, and your friends will have no doubt that making them feel welcome and comfortable is at the top of your party to-do list.

And, if you’re hosting houseguests, here’s what not to do.

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Send Invitations

Being a good party host starts with creating well-thought-out invitations. Be clear on the details, request RSVPs and ask for any information you might need regarding food restrictions or allergies. Use social media or evites so you can send a reminder about the event, something busy people always welcome.

Dazzle your holiday guests with these smart home trends.

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Get Organized

Parties require planning, so give yourself plenty of time to figure out the details. Get down to the minutiae, like what you’ll serve, where you’ll put the food (it should be where you want people to congregate), how you’ll decorate and stage the house, where people can put their coats and so on. Once you’ve got a plan, you might want to recruit some of your guests to help. Asking is NOT a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of inclusiveness: Most people are flattered and happy to pitch in. If you’re not comfortable asking guests, ask a friend to help if it’s a family party or a relative is it’s a friend party. You might also consider hiring a teenage neighbor to help you out.

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Make Food That Satisfies

Tried and true is the rule here: Make what you know will turn out and taste good. Be sure to include dishes that take into consideration any guests’ food restrictions. And, choose recipes that can be made ahead, and make plenty so you don’t run out. Your guests will love the food (all part of earning your “good host” credentials), and you’ll be less stressed and able to spend more time mingling.

These are our 10 favorite ways to make a kitchen cozy for the holidays.

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Plan for Kids and Pets

If your party’s for adults but you know there might be a child or two attending, have food and some activities that will appeal to them. No need to go overboard here, but you’ll earn kudos for your efforts. You’ll also get points if you keep your pets behind a gate, or even out of the house (if you can, arrange a play date for them with a neighbor or friend for the duration of the party).

Did you know, these are the best dog breeds for kids?

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Encourage Conversation

Unless you want everyone to stand (meaning, you don’t want guests to stay long!), figure out how best to arrange your furniture so guests can sit. This will make them more comfortable and thus, more likely to talk to the other guests. It might mean setting up some folding chairs or re-arranging things to open up some spaces. And, you may want to remove furniture from a room to re-purpose it for chairs, tables or even a beverage or dessert bar.

Here are the top 10 ways you’re incorrectly arranging your furniture.

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Let Guests Help Build a Party Playlist

Music fills in those occasional quiet moments at a party. It also sets a mood. Stick with tunes that aren’t overly energetic and mix up genres if you’re not sure of a single one everyone would like. Get your guests in on the planning by asking them to help build the playlist on a music-sharing site, such as Spotify, before the party.

Here is a quick smartphone speaker trick that can be used in any room.

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lightsHannah Melissa Woods/Shutterstock

Decorate with Restraint

An overly decorated home can actually feel unwelcoming. To encourage your guests to settle in, adorn your space with restraint in mind. How to do that? Use a few simple statement decorations. Hang banners or bunting flags in a prominent spot. Strategically place a striking large floral or branch arrangement at the bar or dessert table. Use votive candles and strings of lights to add warm light and sparkle. To tie a theme or color scheme together throughout the rooms, use a consistent or complementary color for décor, including table linens.

13 holiday decorating ideas for minimalists.

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Greet Each Guest

Be the welcoming committee for each of your guests as they arrive. Orient them to where things are: places for coats, food (make sure you have some out at the beginning of the party), beverages, bathroom. Take a moment to chat with them, and before you walk away, introduce them to other partygoers.

Here’s a look at 10 entryway decor ideas to make your entry space more welcoming.

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FriendsMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Be Present

Give your guests something they’re hoping to get at the party—face time with you. To do that, you’ve got to have a plan that lets you escape from the kitchen. If you’re concerned you won’t be able to manage food prep and mingling, ask before the party for volunteers to help with certain chores. You can even assign time slots for people to pitch in. Check out this holiday houseguest prep checklist, so you can better prepare for overnight guests.

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Buy the Right Amount of Booze

Nothing can ruin a party more quickly than guests who get drunk. One way to avoid that: Limit how much alcohol you serve. Use an online app to calculate how much booze you’ll need. And, be prepared should any guests over-indulge: Have a ride-share app on your phone so you can arrange a safe ride home for them.

If there is a wine spill (and there usually is!), this is how to get red wine stains out of carpet.

Kathleen Childers
Kathleen Childers, a Minnesota-based writer, covers topics about home and life for a variety of clients.