A single girl cannot sit at home and wait to be invited to gatherings – parties, barbeques, game nights, etc. Odds are, many of your friends are married, or coupled. Sometimes they have their own ‘couples’ events. Don’t let yourself be forgotten or written out. Keep yourself in the loop by showing what a great addition to a party you are! And the best way to do that is to plan the party yourself!
Being a good hostess is like being a good friend – put others first and make sure you always provide a warm, welcoming haven for your friends. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re planning your next soiree.
- Think of others first. When planning your party, keep in mind your guests. If you have friends with kids, be sure to give them enough notice to find a babysitter. Or if there are many kids, arrange to have a babysitter at your home. If you know that certain days don’t work for some of your friends, do your best to plan around them. Taking the time to accommodate these considerations will make your guests feel like they come first.
- Plan ahead. Set your date at least three weeks in advance to give your guests plenty of time to accept your invitation.
- Set your menu/theme. Theme parties set a great foundation for your evening. Whether it’s a casual game night, or a more formal dinner party, setting the theme will help you focus your planning – and will let your guests know what to expect. Once you’ve determined the theme for your event, set your menu. Be sure to take into account any food allergies, or dislikes, if you know them. Also, do not be afraid to ask your guests to bring something to share. In a perfect world, you’re financially secure enough to provide everything. But we all know that is unrealistic. You must take a larger share – provide the main dish, and maybe beverages. Ask (do not demand!) your guests if they can contribute. If they are in agreement, it is best to assign a course. Let them know what your main dish will be, then assign a side dish, or a salad, or dessert. Knowing the main dish will help them to coordinate their contribution appropriately.
- Prepare your home. A day or two before the event, make sure your home is ready for your guests. Your home should be a warm, welcoming place. Be sure your share rooms are free from clutter and dust. I always vacuum the day of the event. I know when I walk into someone’s home and see vacuum lines in the carpet, I feel special knowing that my friend spent the time to make her home nice for me. Your guests will feel the same. Is anyone allergic to your pets? Be sure to thoroughly clean and vacuum and corral your pets into a single location to minimize the allergens. Will there be children? Make sure all breakables are out of reach.
- Prepare yourself. If at all possible, have everything ready before your guests arrive: House cleaned, table set, furniture arranged, food staying warm in the oven. The best part of an event is the time spent with your friends – if you can have that time start from the moment they step in the door, all the better!
- Extra touches – staging your home. If you have the time, make the effort to go above and beyond. These little touches will let your guests know that you are thinking of them.
- If you’re having a dinner party, have your table set with your best dishes, and everything in it’s place. (Here’s a great article on how to set a table). Add place cards for a special touch.
- Splurge on fresh flowers (stores such as Trader Joes have lovely bouquets for $4 to $10. Or in the summer, farmers markets are the best!) Use them as a table centerpiece or in your sitting area.
- Have fun magazines or books out on your coffee table. If your guests are ever in a situation where they need to wait while you’re in the kitchen, or waiting for others to arrive, having some entertainment readily available lets them know you wont be offended if they’re not following you around watching you make your final preparations.
- ALWAYS have a lit candle in the bathroom – I know I’m not the only one that can be self conscious about lingering bathroom odors in a hosts’ home!
- At the end of the night. As your guests leave, be sure to thank them for spending their time with you. If you can, send them home with a little parting gift – a cute gift bag with mini liquor bottles, fun candy, a deck of cards – something that goes with the evening’s theme. (Dollar Tree can be a great place to get fun trinkets!) If you can’t afford it, a sincere thank you is still a wonderful parting gift.
- The next day. Send each of your guests a special note (email is fine!) thanking them again for coming to your home. Include something personal: reference a fun conversation you had with them, compliment the food they brought, their outfit or their mad game-playing skills. The personal reference will let them know that you truly valued their presence.