If you love to entertain, then you're most likely planning to have friends and family over for at least some kind of celebration throughout the year, be it Thanksgiving dinner, a holiday gift exchange, adinner party, or a game night. To ensure that your guests feel comfortable, happy, and included while attending your event, you'll want to brush up on the below common hosting mistakes—and make note of what to do instead—so that your gatherings go off without a hitch.
1. Seating Close Friends Near One Another
It may be tempting to set out the place cards for your gathering and seat people who you know are close friends at their own portion of the table, but doing so is actually quite limiting. "Dinner parties are supposed to be fun," says Melissa Funk, founder of servingware company Lynn & Lianna Designs. "It’s a time where people have the opportunity to share interests with one another, make new connections, and gain new friends. Unless you are doing a get-together where there is a lot of catching up to do, don’t pair people together who are already very well acquainted." Additionally, placing besties beside one another may result in other guests who do not know as many party attendees feeling left out, Funk adds.
Unless you are doing a get-together where there is a lot of catching up to do, don’t pair people together who are already very well acquainted.
2. Trying to Play Bartender
Don't sign yourself up to be mixing drinks all night, urges Tracey Wooster of Tracey Wooster Design. Instead, keep things nice and simple by doing some prep in advance. "Set up a beverage area with a few bottles of wine, an assortment of beer, two liquors of choice and a pre mixed signature cocktail," Wooster suggests, noting that she also keeps a few non-alcoholic options on hand. "I’ve found that this keeps the bar line moving while giving me more time to mingle and enjoy my guests," she adds. "I promise your guests will be just as happy pouring their own drink!"
3. Not Think About Lighting
It's all about the ambiance, after all! "Lighting is key to setting a space's mood, so ambient lighting is absolutely essential when you're entertaining," comments Sofia Crokos of Sofia Crokos Events & Lifestyle. She prefers ambient lighting rather than LED, adding, "When you're hosting a beautifully-lit room, the wonderful atmosphere follows in accordance."
4. Not Considering Your Audience
Jamie Kramer of Jamie Kramer Events notes that being mindful of your target audience when planning a get together is key. "Often times, people get so excited to host and whip out their fancy servingware," she says. "However, if you are having young kids over, be sure to cater to them as well." For example, setting out some plastic utensils and paper plates is an excellent idea in this type of scenario. Have plastic or paper. "This doesn't mean you can't use those items from your wedding registry you have been waiting to make use of, but having options that are best suitable for all age groups is key," Kramer adds.
You will also want to consider your audience when sending out your invites and planning your playlist and other details for the evening, says Tracy Taylor Ward of Tracy Taylor Ward Design. "If you’re unsure about whether all of your guests observe the same holiday(s) that you do, it’s best to err on the side of caution and incorporate details (such as the language used on your invites, your music selections or your décor) that feel inclusive of all.”
5. Posting Too Much on Social Media
Social media is a major part of our lives, but you may wish to limit those posts when hosting a party. Deliece Knights-Barnett of Dhalia Events points out that not sharing a ton of content from your party is especially helpful when you have to keep the invite list small. "Try requesting or suggesting an unplugged affair to limit the online sharing of your event," she suggests. "This way you can share just the photos you want (decor etc.) without impacting those who you may not have invited and who may be having a tough season."
6. Overdoing It
Of course you'll want to make your home feel festive for the occasion, but it's ok to scale back a little, Ward says. "There’s a fine line between subtly leaning into a theme to add a seasonal vibe and going so overboard that your party feels cheesy!" Scaling back a bit on decor can be a money saver, too. "It’s easy to feel inclined to buy every decoration on the shelf, but our general rule of thumb with any event is to keep it simple, yet celebratory.” A few accents can go a long way.
7. Failing to Think About the Weather
Last but not least, depending on where you live, you'll want to factor in weather when making arrangements for your gathering. "During the winter, it’s important to consider the possibility of bad travel conditions interfering with guests being attending your events or at the very least preventing them from arriving on-time," Ward notes. The same goes for summer events that might be impacted by extreme heat and gatherings impacted by rain, wind, or other inclement weather. "On occasion, challenging weather can even result in the postponement of your events, so it's helpful to think through these scenarios ahead of time."