I know not everyone is a born hostess or adores entertaining, but opening your home to family and friends is way to Live Beautifully that blesses others as well as yourself. Here are a few tips that will definitely help both seasoned and inexperienced hostesses alike.
1.) Store a few ounces of touch-up paint in the fridge
My friend Lee Ellen–a fabulous hostess–gave me this tip not long ago. Label each container with the paint color and location, ie: Ming/James’s room. This will keep your paint fresh, and will also make pre (or post!) party touch ups soooo much easier than having to sort through old paint cans in the attic only to find the heat has ruined it. These tiny Tupperware containers came in the set I bought at Sam’s.
2.) Join a Bubble Club and split it with a friend
When I was in Napa last Fall, my sister-in-law and I decided to join the VJB Bubble Club and split the bottles. Every April and November we receive a case. Brian and I aren’t in the habit of opening a bottle of bubbles very often, but it is soooo nice to have several bottles of good champagne to share when entertaining or to take as a hostess gift when attending a party. This will save you time and money, as club members often get a better rate.
3.) Have a go-to centerpiece.
Creating an elegant and memorable centerpiece can feel so daunting to even the most experienced of hostesses. Especially to those of us who don’t have ready access to a florist or party planner each time we want to invite friends over for dinner. My go-to centerpiece consists of (3) 4″ square vases, (4) 4.5″ round goldfish bowl vases, 4 votive candles, 1 table runner and 2 bunches of hydrangeas.
I fill the square vases with flowers–Hydrangeas are beautiful and require no “arranging.” All you have to do is cut the stems to the height of your vase. Place the votives in the round vases and then alternate with the flowers the length of the table runner. Add some crystal pebbles or rose petals if desired. Simply change up the color of runner, candles and flowers to make this a fail-proof centerpiece every time.
4.) keep dessert simple
Even when serving a formal dinner I really like dessert to be a comfortable, less rigid part of the evening. My favorite and THE MOST SIMPLE dessert to serve is Cowboy Bark, Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Balls and a variety of berries…all from Trader Joes! These are delicious and absolutely no fuss!!
Prior to guests arriving, set a large serving tray with coffee cups and saucers, a few serving bowls and a French press with the coffee grounds already inside. Once dinner is finished, simply switch on the kettle and fill the French press, arrange your tray with the chocolates, berries and coffee fixins’ and set on the middle of the table or wherever you are serving dessert. Guests are free to help themselves.
5.) Consult with the experts.
Keep a few of your favorite entertaining books on hand, ie: Emily Post, Camille Styles and Tablescapes: Setting the Table with Style. I don’t know how many times I’ve consulted these Entertaining Dictionaries for rules and inspiration for whatever event is on the calendar. This graphic from Liberty Tabletop is an excellent cheat sheet for every hostess to keep on hand.
6.) Keep a stocked Bar Cart
During the Season (September 1-January 1) it is an excellent idea to maintain a stocked bar for drop in guests or spur-of-the-moment get togethers. Wine and beer are always safe, but why not offer your guest something new and different. (Sage Advice and The Republic are two of my faves!) If you don’t have a quality ice maker, keep a bag of ice in your freezer. Have a variety of liquor and mixers (tonic, club soda, soft drinks etc…) on hand, and festive glasses to coordinate with the season. Decant your whiskey! It looks beautiful in crystal and is ready to serve on a chilly Fall afternoon.
7.) Have a few candles on reserve.
The other night, I had scheduled a dinner party for some friends and their husbands and realized the two scented candles I typically have lighted were almost completely gone…and I didn’t have any spares! Scented candles add EVERYTHING to the ambiance of your home. My favorites are from Nest. Grab a few extra next time you are at Sharla’s or any time you see them on sale, and put them away in case of a candle emergency!
8.) Print and frame a pretty “Come On In” sign.
A scribbled post-it really isn’t the thing these days. Why not print a sign at home or purchase a printable on Etsy? Slide it into a picture frame and hang it on or near the front door before parties.
9.) Purchase an Instax mini 8 camera
The Polaroid is back! These mini cameras print tiny polaroid-type pictures and is such a fun change from snapping a selfie via your iPhone.
10.) have a second set of everyday silverware
When I say this, I do not mean you must buy another set or that it even has to be very nice. My second set was my mother-in-law’s stainless when she got married. She hated to throw it away when she replaced it several years ago and kept it in case one of her 4 children needed a set for their first apartments. I have it now, and keep it in a drawer beneath the “cooking-prep area” of my kitchen. Its nice to have a second set when entertaining a huge crowd…or if you have gone through an obscene amount of forks one week, and don’t have any from your regular set clean.
You’ve got the tips…now go throw a party!