Some of us are not natural hosts and when your time comes it might be helpful to have a few easy tips so that you get to spend maximum time with your guests, you can hopefully enjoy the experience and your guests will have an amazing time. Hosting a BBQ, dinner party or cocktail evening is not rocket science and with some careful planning you can make it seem effortless. Bottoms up everyone!
# 1 - Spend a little time making some small and discreet name badges or stickers. Getting a group of people together can be stressful, as people trickle in you will be rushing around taking coats and pouring drinks; the last thing you will have time for will be introductions. Buy some simple plain badges and a marker pen; write each name on the badges. Place them in a decorative bowl or basket near the entrance with a little sign to explain why they are there. People will naturally begin to mingle more and may strike up conversations without fear of forgetting the other persons name. It sounds simple but it really works.
# 2 - Look after the non drinkers as much as the drinkers by preparing some interesting drinks for those who are driving. So often, when we host a party we pack the fridge full with wine, beers and spirits as we fear running out, however more often than not the token bottle of Cola that we got for the non drinking individuals disappears in a flash, leaving some guests finishing off the year old bottle of orange squash lurking in the fridge. By purchasing a few large bottles of plain sparkling water you can create some mouth watering drinks. How about making up some jugs of sparkling ice tea with these fun different flavoured instant teas; these even taste fab with a shot of vodka for those who are wanting to indulge.
Mocktails are great fun too, this simple smoothie style non alcoholic Pina Colada can be whisked up an hour in advance and served throughout the night, a dash of Malibu can also spice it up for the drinkers, just don't forget to stir. Multi functional drinks that can be adapted for those sipping alcohol saves you time and resources.
# 3 - Fun flavoured sweets placed around the room make a refreshing change from the usual crisps and nuts. Sweets can be a real talking point and help guests to strike up new conversations. Try placing bowls of more unusual sweet treats such as Draft Beer Jelly Beans, Jolly Rancher Hard Candies and Peanut Butter M&M's to keep your guests happy.
# 4 - If you are having music at your event, try and stream music directly from the internet, this provides flexibilty to cater for many different musical tastes. If you don't have a DJ or someone in charge of the music set up a playlist in advance using a music streaming service such as Spotify. This means that you can choose tracks to best suit your guests and there will be no awkward silent moments whilst you are rushing around handing out your sausage rolls.
If you are having a DJ it is fun to invite guests to participate in a lucky dip song request game. Simply cut up lots of coloured slips of paper and ask all your guests to write down their favourite song, fold the paper up and pop it into a hat, the DJ can then choose songs at random as the night goes on, a great way to get your guests involved.
# 5 - If you are having a buffet style meal, label the food options before the guests arrive. This simple tip helps to eliminate food waste and saves your guests the awkwardness of taking something that they don't like or having to ask what it is; anything that can free up your time gives you more precious moments with your friends and family.
# 6 - If children are invited be sure to put together a simple activity to keep them entertained so that they hopefuily don't run riot and spoil your relaxed atmosphere. Colouring always goes down well (print off some fun pictures to colour from the internet) perhaps other games like pin the tail on the donkey or guess the number of sweets in the jar are great fun for children and adults alike!
# 7 - The people that you invite want to spend time with you, so remember to keep food and drink simple. The more that can be prepared in advance the more time you will have to circulate and chat. No one likes to be chained to the stove whilst their guests have fun without them.
These quick and easy tips will hopefully ensure that all of your guests feel welcome, well looked after and above all have a great time!
This post was written by Becky Whittaker for online speciality food retailer Tastebox!
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