Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette is my personal holy grail for all things hosting and etiquette. She covers a lot of awkward situations and how to deal with them appropriately; like what to do with a guest who may be a little tipsy or how to properly eat oysters. Even if you don’t like to host dinner parties, this book is a great guide for etiquette!
I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a hostess—here are my personal eight rules for hosting a great party!
1 | Time is your best friend.
Yay, you have decided to host a dinner party! Now set the date four weeks in the future. Four weeks. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
2 | Do not cook something new.
Your dinner party is not the time to be creative in the kitchen. If you want to make a new recipe try it in advance, not the night before, and definitely not the day of your party. Trust me, I’ve made this mistake before—it was a disaster. Make something you are familiar with; your guests want to see you! You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen or worrying about how your mystery dish will taste.
3 | Start with a small guest list.
If you are hosting your first dinner party, start with a small guest list. Hosting is stressful and expensive, know your limits. Make sure you have a good time too!
4 | Find your inner extrovert.
And do it quickly, because your party just started. My idea of a party is making a Charcuterie board, pouring a glass of Las Rocas Garnacha 2014 and reading The Lord of the Rings. The song All By Myself doesn’t scare me. I love being an introvert, but being a hostess requires a more outgoing spirit. So, take the day before your party for yourself. In fact, you should do this whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. In Susan Cain’s book Quiet, she says no one is exclusively an introvert or an extrovert. We all have a little of both. So, if you are an introvert, you can tap into your inner extrovert :) And you should, because as a host or hostess you need to mingle and make sure all of your guests are having a great time!
5 | Make sure your home is clean.
Open your windows the day before and allow fresh air in. Put the Lysol down. Do not spray Lysol or Febreeze before any party. Make sure your home smells good, but not overpowering. Light a candle, vanilla or lavender—something simple and safe for every nose. Also, make sure your home is squeaky clean: bathrooms, kitchen, living room, etc. And turn on the lights. Not too bright, but also you don’t want your home to be dark and ominous.
6 | Set boundaries.
I’m a Cancerian, my home is my happy place. I’m also shy and passive—not a great combination. I’ve been Lady of the Apple House for almost nine years and it’s still difficult to set boundaries. You have to though. If your guest is disrespectful, you should politely tell them the house rules. Your guests won’t know the house rules unless you tell them.
7 | Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, chances are, your family and friends want to be involved. You don’t have to do everything by yourself!
8 | Invite your BFF over early.
This may be the most important rule! Inviting a friend or family member over early will give you the chance to loosen up. Also, you can ask for advice on decor or how the table is arranged.
Do you have any advice for hosting?!