The holiday entertaining season is coming up and you may be throwing parties for family or friends or you may have been put in charge of the office party. Here are a few things to not overlook so your party can come off without a hitch. 


It all starts with the invitation. Don’t forget to tell potential guests where the party is including your address with a small map insert. It’s always nice to know what time it starts, so don’t forget that, but if you’re eating at a certain time, don’t forget to include an arrival time so guests know that there is a definite start and that fashionably late isn’t a good idea. One sure fire way to get guests to your house by the arrival time is to call it “cocktail hour”. No one I know wants to miss that. If it’s an ugly sweater party, fancy party or casual party, tell them. It helps to know what the dress code is so guests don’t show up to a fancy party in jeans and a hideous sweater. Make it as easy as possible to RSVP. Include a phone number and an email address and if you need them to RSVP by a certain date, say so.


If you’re having the party at your house, it’s a wise idea to greet as many of the arriving guests as you possibly can. If your doorbell rings and you’re in the middle of a light conversation, just politely excuse yourself so you can open the door and greet as many of your guests as you can. I’ve been to parties where I know the host and a couple of other party guests, but when you ring the bell, no one comes to the door, but you can hear the conversation so you just walk in and everyone looks at you like you’re naked. What are you supposed to do? Just stand out in the cold? So, this one is very important to not overlook.


As mentioned, I’ve been to parties where I knew a few of the guests but not all of the guests so if you find you’re throwing a party where it’s going to be a mix of people that you know aren’t familiar with each other, when you open the door and take the coat, or when they come back from placing the coats on the spare bed, make it a point to introduce your guests to others, especially if you know they have something in common. Make mention of that when you’re showing them around. “Mary, this is Karen. Karen and I work together in administration and Karen and her husband Jim just had their first baby in June. Mary and her husband Bob just welcomed twins about a year or so ago. Mary and I met in college. We sat next to each other in Sociology.” Then politely excuse yourself.

No Rules

OK, maybe no rules, but don’t get upset if your guests don’t take off their shoes, don’t use a coaster on the glass coffee table or don’t put a plastic cup or aluminum can into the recycling container. If you’d prefer people take off their shoes, have a shoe taking off area that’s obvious when guests come in. If you’d prefer that guests use coasters all the time no matter what, have an abundance of coasters all over every surface that a glass could possibly be set down on. If you’d prefer that the guests recycle, have bins made up that are in a conspicuous place and also have them labeled, but if someone is wearing shoes, standing near your glass high top with no coaster and their full beer is condensating all over the place and you know they just threw their empty beer can in the trash, don’t freak out. Others may not be as stringent with the rules as you are. It’s a party. Have fun.


Keep It Simple, Stupid. That is the number one way it’s going to be easy on you so you can enjoy the party and not be frazzled around your guests or tethered to the kitchen. Make what you can a day ahead of time so you can just spend party day sprucing up the house and doing last minute decorating. Keep the food as easy as you can, but don’t ignore it and let it run out. Same with the cocktails. Set up a bar area and let the guests make their own drinks. Keep a cooler full of beer in the garage or back yard, but also keep an eye on the ice so it’s always fresh, or make sure that you have someone who can also keep an eye on the ice.