Host with the Most: Mom’s Tips for Throwing the Perfect Bash

My mom likes to entertain. Scratch that – she loves to entertain. Thanksgiving has been held at her house for at least 20 years now and the entire event runs like a well-oiled machine. Add in the countless birthday and cocktail parties and having the family over for dinner… she’s basically a pro. So I’ve stolen (er, borrowed) her tips for making sure the party is always a success.

Prep food in advance.
There’s nothing like trying to whip up a dessert on the day of your soirée, only to find out you’re short one stick of butter. Start preparing the menu – and the actual meals – at least a day ahead of time, for whatever items that can be pre-prepared. My mom’s rockstar banana bread? She bakes it a week ahead and pops it in the freezer until day of, so the only thing she has to worry about it slicing and serving.

Use the good china.
Because when else can you? Set the table with your nicest tableware so guests feel that the event is special. If you’re not quite at the china-owning level, pick up a pretty and patterned set of plates that sets the theme and mood for your party, whether it’s a summer BBQ or a friend’s bridal shower.

Put out napkins and coasters – everywhere!
When you’re hosting at home, the last thing you want is someone spilling cheese that gets stuck to the carpet, or getting crumbs all over your brand new sofa. Water stains on the end tables? Don’t even think about it. Set little cocktail napkins (order your own for a customized touch) and coasters on every table surface, to encourage guests to set their glasses on coasters and use napkins for finger foods and appetizers.

Make party favors out of place cards.
Eliminate the problem of guests asking where to sit by creating place settings that they can take home. Whether it’s a themed piece of candy with their name attached or a labeled glass, they’ll appreciate the decor (and the takeaway).

Don’t forget to have fun.
Somebody dropped and broke a glass? The chicken came out a little more crisp than you intended? Mistakes happen – don’t let them get the best of you (and your guests). Shrug off little mishaps and focus on the positive. Your guests will remember your great attitude and ability to laugh at the slip-ups, not the fact that the cake ended up on the floor. (Although it’s always good to have one extra dessert.)

By Melissa Mann, Staff Writer

What are your favorite party-hosting tips? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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August 1, 2012