If you love the idea of hosting—but feel nervousness creeping in when actually planning and throwing that get-together—we completely understand. Even the most effortless-seeming parties do require some prep and practice.
If you're looking to become a more confident host but don't know where to begin, the pros are here to help. Read on for useful, step-by-step advice that will set you up for plenty of hosting success.
Meet the Expert
1. Work On Your Attitude
It may seem simple, but you'll want to get yourself in the right mood to host to ensure that an event will be joyful.
So, why not make your party prep fun? "We love to prepare while listening to great music and lighting a few candles," McGraw explains.
2. Prep Basics Ahead of Time
Another way to ensure that you feel in the groove on the day of your party is to check a few basic tasks off the list ahead of time.
"One way to really enjoy hosting is to feel like you are a guest yourself," Bria Hammel of Bria Hammel Interiors and home décor store Brooke & Lou says. "Prep as much as you can the day before so that you aren’t scrambling the day of—or stuck in the kitchen while your guests arrive."
This may mean completing your tablescape, beginning to prep recipes, or laying out your outfit a day or so in advance, Hammel explains.
3. Keep Tried and True Recipes on Hand
There's no need to prep a new menu every time you entertain. "Unless you’re a professional party planner or aspire to be, don’t reinvent the wheel every time you entertain," Dana Lewis, the owner of Proper Table, says. "Keep a file of tried and true (not too complicated) recipes that you feel comfortable preparing."
Need a few suggestions? McGraw offers an easy hack. "We have become obsessed with roasting vegetables and serving with a simple protein on a large cutting board," she comments. "It looks amazing and is an easy serve."
4. Don't Be Afraid to Outsource
Not a pro chef? That's more than okay, Lewis adds, explaining that she will often outsource part of the meal she plans to serve.
"I often grill the meat but buy a tzatziki or chimichurri from a local restaurant or gourmet shop," she explains. "Perhaps lighten your load by ordering a cheese and charcuterie board from your local grocer or pick up something sweet from the bakery."
5. Keep Your Display Simple
There's no need to go full-on florist every time you entertain. "Keep a pair of clippers in your car or bag and snip foliage while you’re out during the day," Lewis suggests. "Seasonal branches in glass vases, pitchers, or jars are stunning and dramatic."
There are simple yet festive ways to jazz up each place setting, too. "Tie an un-ironed linen napkin in a loose knot, tuck in a sprig of rosemary or even boxwood from your garden, and lay the napkin on the dinner plate for an effortlessly chic vibe," Lewis suggests.
6. Clean Up as You Go
Maybe you dread hosting because you work hard to keep your home nice and orderly and feel anxious just thinking about all of the cleanup involved. To make putting everything away a bit less stressful, make an effort to clean up over the course of your gathering, McGraw suggests.
"Just removing dirty dishes and cheese boards as the goods disappear makes cleaning up less scary," she notes.
7. Keep Hosting More and More
The more you host, the more comfortable with it you will become. "I honestly view socializing and hosting as a muscle," Hammel shares. "The more you exercise it, the stronger and more confident you’ll get. Sure, your first gatherings might not go 100 percent smoothly, but you’ll learn and adapt over time—making each better and better."
Lewis agrees. "Just do it—it will get easier and remember the most important piece of a get-together is the human connection," she says. "Your guests are so grateful to be included in your special evening and to fill their cups, figuratively (and literally!), by socializing with you and the other guests; only you are worried about all the details."