20 November 2012

Holiday Hosting Tips

This post is a companion to my Holiday Eating Tips post of November 19.

The holidays can be a challenge for anyone planning to host a family, friends, or office gathering.  Realizing that love, friendship, and the comfort of your guests are more important than fancy hors d'oeuvres or your new china pattern may help.  So, here are some tips for hosting a loving, friendly, comfortable party this holiday season.

1. Be yourself.  As a party host, you don't need to be the "perfect, super" version of yourself that is really only possible on a scripted television show.  Your friends and family love you and your co-workers enjoy your company, so relax!

2. Find out if any guests have food restrictions or allergies.  This is not always possible, but if you can either through the grapevine or your invitations ask guests who may not eat certain foods for religious or choice reasons or have severe food allergies to let you know privately beforehand.  Some people who eat a limited diet may offer to bring a dish for themselves or help you figure out how to include them in your food spread.

3. Don't push food and drinks too hard.  Some of your guests may be dieting or have food/drink issues that they haven't shared.  Have the food and drinks available and politely offer more occasionally, but don't be offended or upset if someone passes on a second helping of pie or a third glass of wine.

4. Offer a mix of healthy and "traditional" (high in fat and calories) food and drink options.  More and more people want to have at least one healthy option when attending a party.  You don't have to spend a lot of money or time serving a huge variety of items, but at least offer a tray of vegetables, fruits, low-fat cheeses or meats amongst the cookies, fudge, and mini quiches.

5. Don't embarrass late arrivals.  Some of your guests will arrive later than you expect.  Don't say, "Hey, look! John decided to show up!" or "I'm glad you're finally here," since phrases like these can make your guest uncomfortable and unwelcome.  Instead, warmly greet them as if they arrived right on time.  If the late guests offers an apology for their delay, let them know everything is fine.  You could say with a genuine smile, "No worries, we are glad you're here."

6. Turn it down! Some people only see each other at holiday functions.  This is especially true at family or large office parties.  Keep the music or entertainment volume low enough that people can easily hold a conversation.  This is especially important if anyone with hearing difficulties is attending.  Also, take into account the age and musical tastes of your guests.  We may love heavy metal, but Aunt Sue or your boss will not appreciate Steve Harris' excellent basslines.

Images from Microsoft Clip Art website