Get Ready to Host Again! Best Hosting Practices for the Perfect Party
Tips and top practices for event planning and hosting. We cover how to champion the DIY barbeque.
- Hosting means making everyone feel welcome. Nothing does that better than the personalized touch of invitations, place cards, and festive decor
- Event planning is the key to a coordinated and smooth event regardless of party size
- There is no ‘perfect host’ but we can assure you; if you’re not having fun, your guests won't either
It’s been over a week since President Biden announced that he was doubling his goal to 200 million vaccinations in the United States. The President also stated that he believes Americans will be able to celebrate the 4th of July with small gatherings of friends and family. This is exactly the news we’ve been dying to hear! It’s been so long; we thought we’d review some hosting best practices.
Throwing the perfect get-together means thinking about each and every guest. How will you adjust to being in contact with larger groups of people after a year of quarantine and social distancing? Some people will decline the invitation because they’re uneasy about mingling with crowds, but does this mean every attendee will be comfortable? Probably not.
Your guests are certainly looking forward to seeing you again. Let’s make them feel at home. What’s that signature dish again? Get out the old family recipe book. We all know that family member that’s been craving grandma’s famous pie recipe. Maybe make two. If you don’t have a family recipe, maybe now’s the time to create new traditions. If you’re not a chef, or are concerned that you’ll be too exhausted from cooking and baking, support small businesses. Now you can truly support the reopening while exposing your guests to excellent local eats with your patronage.
Home cookin’ is great. Food is definitely a staple at every event. There are lots of other ways to show your personalized touch. Holiday themed desserts are a great way to sprinkle in some cheer. We take the time to check as many resources as possible. We want to be your planning and hosting experts. Sometimes, when things are out of our wheelhouse we look to the experts. That's why we suggest checking out Delish. No affiliation, we just think they have awesome recipes and content. You don’t want to try my baking, trust me. If your lack of baking skills are like mine, we always suggest patronizing local small businesses and minority owned businesses -- or in this case bakeries!
Lately it feels like all you can do is talk to friends and family. We’ve had countless FaceTimes, Zooms, and other video calls. Part of what brings us together as a society is our love for culture and music. Whether you plan your first get together with your best old friends or your dearest family, there is a song and a sound to share in. Tunes can evoke memories and put people at ease. Keep the music soft. The best sounds at your event should be laughter. Your neighbors will appreciate it too.
Music also brings us together through dance. We all have a few extra Covid-calories we’d love to burn off. Is there a better way than dancing with loved ones? We think not. As the sun goes down, try switching out your playlist for some more energetic music. You don’t have to be an expert, just encourage everybody by getting it started yourself. There are great group dancing songs that can get everybody off their backside and onto the dance deck/lawn/floor. Make sure to leave a small area for dancing to take place. No one wants to knock over the cooler while they’re grooving.
Smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. This can be good or bad, depending on the scent. Try placing chairs near floral arrangements, especially if you have scented plants like lavender. One of my favorites is citronella, which smells lemony fresh and repels mosquitoes. Try scentless sunblock and bug repellent to keep the focus on those more pleasant smells.
Speaking of things you don’t want to smell, keep clearly labeled trash receptacles far from your guests dining areas. For less formal events like barbeques birthday parties, task a young helper with going around and helping to clear the tables. Keeping your tables clear allows space for a game of dominoes, cards, or any other activities you may partake in. This also keeps away bbq fearmongers aka bees. We all know that one aunt, uncle, or friend that jumps up and screams everytime they see a bee.
Being prepared is at the core of proper hosting. Preparedness encompasses all topics we’ll discuss. How can you be prepared for your event? Well for starters let’s address the venue. Regardless of the event, we need a budget. It’s been a while since we’ve partied the night away. There is going to be an urge to just buy, buy, buy. We want to quell that urge and have a plan.
The first budgetary item of business is food. You want all your guests to go home happy and full, but the sad truth is that you’ll probably end up throwing out lots of good food. According to Rubicon, Americans alone waste one pound of food every day per person. This accounts for over 100 tons of food waste annually. We can’t solve the global hunger crisis ourselves. Heck, we’re just a place card company! But we can support our company goal of bettering our planet by doing our part. So, how do you make sure your guests leave fat and happy without the unnecessary waste?
One of our favorite cookout pals, Smokedbbqsource states: “A good rule of thumb is to count on about ⅓ pound of cooked meat for each person for a main. This amount may vary between ½ pound if your guests are big eaters or you don't have many sides, to ¼ pound if your sides are generous.” So, take your head count and plan accordingly! Having the appropriate amount of food will keep your cost down and give you more time to engage with your guests (less cooking). Still have left over uncooked or non-perishable food? We urge you to donate it to the food drives or local groups that care for the less fortunate.
We also need to keep our guests hydrated. Drinking alcohol in the sun for extended periods of time can be dangerous. Ensure your guests have access to water and non-alcoholic beverages. It’s been a while since we’ve indulged with our friends and loved ones. Be responsible and make sure your guests have a designated driver. For another personal touch you can jazz up a few pitchers of water with fresh fruit.
Next, let's get that yard in check. Try to mow the lawn a day or so before the event with a slightly lower blade setting. Tightly mown even grass is much more pleasurable to walk on than long unkempt grass. Speaking of things you don’t want to step on, check the yard for animal poop, out of place rocks, or small tennis ball sized holes in the grass. We don’t want anyone twisting an ankle or tracking waste around. If there’s a chance of rain or if it’s going to be a sunny scorcher make sure you put that umbrella in the table holster. Renting a tent may be necessary, so make sure to check the weather and be prepared!
When it comes to partying it's so much more about the company and the setting than the cuisine. Make sure your space is festive. A lot of barbeque themes center around patriotism. Bright red disposable table cloths and cups are great. Balloons, runners, and banners are other great accents. Try securing balloons to your fence for an awesome visual. To maximize participation and fun, have young ones draw festive pictures with crayons and watercolors. Then tack them up around the house or yard.
Being a great host means ensuring that all your guests are safe, full, and entertained. That is a lot of pressure! The ‘day-of’ will be hectic. Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to chase your party around cleaning. Know that in the end, there will be a mess. And yes, you will probably have to “encourage” your children and spouse to help. The mess is inevitable. Don’t miss the fun for a slightly easier cleanup. Hosting involves being in the present.
Hosting all involves a nurturing attitude. Your guests want to see each other, but they especially want to see you. Showing your guests attention makes them feel important and engaged. You want to socialize while keeping your event on task and on schedule. That means making sure the food is served before tummies are rumbling, making sure there’s ice in the cooler, and ensuring that your guests are comfortable.
This is where place cards can help. Use place cards to show your guests where to sit. If you don’t, you may have a traffic jam in your kitchen and an empty yard. That’s not a barbeque, that's a headache! Also, place cards can be used to label hot plates. You don’t want everybody opening the lids and letting your food go cold. Clearly labeling things is a true trick, regardless of if it’s two place cards or two hundred.
For a more focused article on event safety, especially as it relates to Covid-19, check out our “How to Conduct a Safe Event.” We’re going to stay focused on barbeque etiquette and safety today. So let’s start with the grill. There are three main safety goals when it comes to your barbeque. First, make sure to have a pitcher of water nearby, as well as baking soda, in the event your greasy goodness becomes a grease fire. It happens. To prevent grease fires, make sure your grease pan and grill components have been cleaned with a wire brush.
Next make sure the grill is set up in a safe location. A few feet from points of egress or areas where children can wander up. We don’t want anyone knocking the grill over. For optimal placement, set the grill up down wind and away from your guests, so that smoke doesn't blow in their faces.
In fact, most of our safety advice will pertain to avoiding fire hazards. We all love the taste of s’mores and there is nothing better than making one on the open fire. A pitcher of water is also important if you plan on starting a fire pit. Make sure to have rocks and other containing elements around your open fire so that it cannot spread. Keep your eye on little wanderers aka toddlers. Also, make sure it is away from any gas lines or propane tanks.
Fireworks are the staple of every 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. We suggest leaving the fireworks to the professionals. Every year we hear the stories of those who are left equipped with less than 10 fingers. It is also not lawful to launch fireworks in certain areas, which is why you should defer to your local legislation if you’re an experienced fireworks wizard. Regardless, make sure to keep the area safe, keep water nearby, and watch for toddlers and animals. For a safe alternative try sparklers! They’re fun for the whole family.
As we continue to ‘reopen’ society, we are faced with new challenges. This is the ‘new normal.’ We don’t have time to waste or whine so let’s address these challenges with love and humanity. Start planning your event with some patriotic place cards!