How To Be A Good Host For Indoor Gatherings

How well you receive people in your home or at a party you’re hosting is partly a reflection of your character.

· 9 min read
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It’s important to learn how to be a good host if you like having people over. How well you receive people in your home or at a party you’re hosting is partly a reflection of your character. Like it or not, people will form an impression of you based on how you treat them when you host them for a party, a dinner, or even a casual gathering. Whether it’s a hosted dinner for friends, a romantic  date-night-in, your kid’s birthday party, a baby shower, a movie night, a full-blown evening shindig, casual drinks, or a week-long visit from out-of-towners, making sure your guests feel welcomed and comfortable is a priority.

Have you ever wanted to throw a get-together in your home for your family and friends, but gotten cold feet because you realized you don’t know how to be a good host? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Everyone seems to have that one friend who’s the “hostess with mostess” or the best at being the host. They throw amazing gatherings that are welcoming and feel like a warm hug. The guests’ needs are met with a delicious charcuterie board, a great playlist, perfect table setup, awesome food, and drinks that never run out.

These well-organized gatherings just run smoothly when you know how to be a good host, with the attendees having a great time and feeling a sense of comfort. Moreover, you can see in the face of the host that they’re not burdened by the party, but they’re also having a spectacular time. If you’ve ever attended a party like this, you go home satisfied with a huge smile on your face. And you feel extremely grateful to the host for such an amazing time.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pay it forward and emulate those hosting details, and create the same feelings for your guests in the next shindig you host at home?

How to Be a Good Host: It’s Innate, But Could Be Learned

Hosting people is somewhat of an art form, and it can be quite overwhelming if you don’t know what to do. The art of hosting comes natural to some people, but it could also be learned.

Hosting is a selfless way of showing love. It’s an act of giving, and it’s important to give rather than always receiving.

Opening up your home to people you care about is no mean feat, especially if you’re a private person by nature. Experts say that the hospitality mindset is innate, and it strongly correlates to the Extroverted-Sensing-Feeling-Perceiving (ESFP) personality trait in the Myers-Briggs Indicator Test (MBTI). Another name for ESFPs would be the “entertainer” or “performer” because they have a naturally social, outgoing, resourceful, spontaneous, and people-pleasing personality. Hence, these personality types are excellent hosts, throwing amazing parties

If you’re curious about your personality traits and how they might impact your natural hosting skills, you could read about your genetic personality traits after taking a CircleDNA test. This at-home DNA test offers comprehensive insights including your ancestry, health risks, sleep patterns, nutrition, exercise, personality traits, behavior traits, hidden genetic talents, and more based on your genetic makeup. Get unique insights into your personality traits, including if you’re naturally extroverted or introverted. You may even uncover hidden personality traits which you can use to unleash your full potential.

Here’s the good news: even if you’re not born with the genes that make you a natural entertainer or give you a hospitable personality trait, you can still learn how to be a good host. Whether you’re hosting a fine-dining inspired dinner party, or throwing a casual barbeque for colleagues, you can implement good hospitality. You can also mitigate some of the stress of hosting if you plan ahead and know what to do.

Below are some tips on how to be a good host, and how to throw a memorable gathering.

Always Set a Specific Time Frame

Whenever you host people, always set a specific time frame with a clear start time and end time. Whether it’s a dinner party or a long weekend visit, you must specify what time works for you. Always make it a point to let your guests know what hours or days you’ll be ready to receive them. Don’t feel embarrassed to say at what specific time the dinner party is ending or until when your sleepover guests can be accommodated.

If you have guests that tend to wear out their welcome and stay way too late, don’t hesitate to speak up and give them an excuse such as a big work project in the morning or an early doctor’s appointment. Remember, even the most gracious hosts can turn into cranky hosts when guests overstay their welcome. And you can mitigate this by being clear when you extend your invitation.

In the invite, set a time frame such as, “We’d like to invite you to dinner from 5pm - 8pm on Sunday evening. Being very clear about the time frame is one of the most crucial aspects of how to be a good host who doesn’t get worn out from over-hosting.

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Learn How to Be a Good Host With These Dinner Party Tips

Although it may sound like a cliche, failing to plan is planning to fail. If you want to be the ultimate gracious dream host in your guests’ minds, everything from your table set up to the drinks cabinet will make an impact. Fortunately, you no longer need starched tablecloths, beautifully folded napkins, fancy charger plates, and five-course meals to be considered a good dinner host.

Even if you “cheat” on cooking and buy meals, you can make them look carefully prepared with garnishes, pretty plates, and proper presentation. More importantly, it’s the simple gestures that matter like offering to take your guests’ coats and giving them beverages upon arrival. You can cut down on the hosting frenzy by making smarter choices and avoiding the pressure of doing everything perfectly from scratch. Here are some handy hacks to assure a smooth-flowing party:

  1. Before the party date, ask for any food allergies or food sensitivities
  2. Make sure the house is spic and span
  3. Prepare a comfy seat for all the guests
  4. Create a nice table setting with special dinnerware and personalized nameplates
  5. Sit the right people next to each other
  6. Don’t make guests wait too long before serving food (start with an appetizer)
  7. Offer guests a cocktail or a glass of wine as soon as they arrive
  8. Spend more time with your guests than you spend in the kitchen
  9. Plan a delectable menu with everyone’s preferences and restrictions in mind
  10. Present food nicely whether store-bought or made from scratch
  11. Keep drinks and conversation flowing (but not overflowing)
  12. Prepare activities like a board game or karaoke
  13. Curate a playlist for background music for the occasion

If you’re hosting a party, you can also create a fun hashtag and encourage everyone to take pics and post them online. With this, you can view after-party pictures easily and maybe see scenes you may have missed because you’re busy working the room and providing what everyone needs. The smiles you see online will make you feel good because your guests clearly had a wonderful time.

Hosting Etiquette 101: Practice Empathetic Hosting By Giving Attention to Detail

When people prepare for guests to arrive, whether it’s a dinner party or a week-long staycation for relatives overseas, they tend to clean and decorate the place. This is usually driven by a desire for approval. After all, you don’t want anyone to think that your home is messy with dust bunnies under the sofa or bed. But remember, once you’re done focusing on preparing your space, give attention to what your guests would need, especially if they are staying for a few days.

If you have visitors coming from out-of-town to stay for a while, it would help to put yourself in their shoes. Part of practicing how to be a good host includes asking yourself what will make your guests happy and what they would appreciate. Check out these helpful empathetic hosting tips that your guests will love:

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Give guests a warm welcome

The number one rule on how to be a good host is to make your guests feel welcome. You want them to feel at home and not like intruders while hosting them. If you’re hosting out-of-town visitors, and you have a guest room, prepare thoughtful extras like slippers, aromatherapy sachets, and water bottles to make their stay comfy. If they’re staying in a home office, set it up to be as comfortable as possible. It would also be helpful to avoid using that space while they’re around.

Make sure they’re comfortable

Don’t let visitors go hungry and keep a well-stocked pantry. Show them where the snacks and drinks are and encourage them to help themselves. You can also tell where to get extra linens, towels, or toilet paper. Go the extra mile to show them how your remote works.

Plan a few activities

If you don’t have a hectic work schedule, your guests would surely appreciate it if you take them around town. But don’t forget to consult with them first because you don’t want to commit to activities without their permission. For example, some people prefer visiting historical places while others enjoy the outdoors and nature.

Share your schedule

It would help to let your guests know if you are early birds or night owls, so they know the rhythm of the people in your home. You can also inform them of the schedule of your family, like work hours and children’s activities. This would be beneficial, especially if the guests are staying for a week. In this way, you can coordinate activities and manage expectations.

Avoid potential drama

If your guests have kids, prevent potential drama by putting away breakables and precious bric-a-brac ahead. Furthermore, avoid losing something precious by keeping them in your safe or a locked cabinet. Get breakables and valuables out of the way before the guests arrive.

Be Frank About House Rules Without Being Overbearing

The motto My house, my rules usually applies to your children. However, it can get tricky when you’re serious about learning how to be a good host. Of course, you want your guests to feel at ease in your home, but at the same time, you want everyone to respect your personal space. Whether you’re hosting a movie night with friends versus a longer staycation for out-of-towners, keep communication lines open and be honest with guests about your preferences if you want to enjoy the hosting experience.

Since you're inviting people into your personal domain, there is a degree of trust in your relationship. You likely know each other well, so you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells or feel embarrassed to share about your home practices. This level of honesty matters a lot, especially if you’re hosting longer stayovers. Being upfront about your home rules may help you keep your sanity since the guests are staying for several days. So don’t be wary about speaking your mind but do so politely.

For example, if your home doesn’t welcome pets or has a shoes-off policy, let your guests know before they arrive. When you’re hosting smokers but you don’t want them to light up in your house because the occupants have allergies or other health concerns, speak up. You can leave your guests a lighter and ashtray by your porch to reinforce your point.

Relax, Let Your Hair Down, and Have a Blast

Finally, one of the most important aspects of learning how to be a good host is remembering to relax and have a blast. If your guests sense that you’re worried or stressed, you will channel that energy to them, and they won’t have fun. Once you’ve done enough preparations, go with the flow, mingle, and have a good time. Put the cleanup process at the back of your mind. Anyway, you can enlist help afterward to avoid dealing with the stress of the after-party mess.

Instead, focus on your guests and find ways to bond with them. The point of hosting people is giving them your undivided attention and spending quality time together. The best way to do that is for them to see that you’re also having fun in their company.

Let your guests see that you’re present in the moment and enjoying spending time with them, rather than appearing distracted about dishes or other things. Your happy and easy-going attitude will put your guests at ease and set the right tone for your get-together.

References:

  1. What does hostess with the mostess mean? (The Daily Buzz Team) https://the-daily.buzz/what-does-hostess-with-the-mostess-mean/
  2. Hospitality Thinking: Hospitality Mindset (Riku Penttinen) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hospitality-thinking-mindset-riku-penttinen
  3. ESFP The Entertainer: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (Julia Simkus https://www.simplypsychology.org/esfp-personality.html