I love spoiling my guests just as much as my customers . Planning every last detail of a party or overnight stay keeps me tossing and turning constantly, dead set on making just the right decision for everything. and I love it! And since this weekend is my son’s first birthday party (Wahooooo!!! Confetti mess here we come!) I thought we’d switch things up a bit and have a quick post on the best ways I’ve found to treat my guests just as well as I treat my customers.
The first thing I’ve learned to focus on, function. The party has to function well before it can be beautiful. If you have a huge balloon in the middle of an outside table but it keeps blowing in the wind and hitting someone in the face, obviously not going to work (been there, done that). If you have children as your guests, try to have as few breakable dishes/pitchers/servingware out as possible – this one is always a challenge for me. If you use your dining room table as your buffet table, remove the dining room chairs so people can easily approach the table. And if you’re serving food outside, make sure it’s able to withstand the heat – a surprise melting of your prized dessert and your own consequent meltdown is never good. You may even want to test it to be sure. Chocolate obviously melts, but other unknown items may melt as well. And trust me, I know the function before form can be very hard. I fight myself on it every time! I think, it won’t be thaaaaat difficult to put together, it won’t take thaaaat long to hang, it won’t be thaaaat big of a deal if it costs me $450 to make this craft. But (almost) every time I put form before function, I regret it. And so does my husband!
The second thing I focus on is, self-service. Make everything as easy and obvious as possible for guests. Lay plates, napkins, and utensils out at the very beginning of your buffet. Sounds obvious, but I’ve seen many a party where each piece is strewn around the room and guests have to go on a scavenger hunt. If you don’t want guests scrounging through your embarrassingly messy drawers, put all of the items together and where they make sense. And when you are having guests spend time both indoors and out, make sure you provide drinks in both spaces. Don’t make people come inside or vice versa just for a drink. The same thing doesn’t have to be offered in both areas, but give people at least one option in both spots. For our own party this weekend, we’ll have iced tea, lemonade, and white wine inside, and water, sodas, and beers outside.
For food, I’ll do a lesser version. The main table will be inside, but there’ll also be a plate of cookies and maybe one other snack outside so people can nibble as they chat and watch the kids play. And make sure it’s all in an obvious location. Don’t hide your beverages in the fridge and force guests to ask for something to drink. It makes them feel awkward, and puts one more demand on you during the party. And I beg of you, please don’t hide the desserts in a room separate from where the main meal was served. Nothing is worse than seeing people walk by with a cupcake in their hand and desperately wondering, “Where did they get that? Where did it come from? How come they get one and I don’t?!” Cause I’m always that person!
Finally, relax and enjoy your own party. Do as much planning and prepping as possible so that by the time the party starts, you can actually be a guest. It’s never fun to be a party guest where the hostess is hidden in the kitchen frantically (and sometimes furiously) taking care of everything. When one dish is empty, have a replacement dish ready to go in the fridge to replace it. No need to spend the time refilling an empty dish unless it’s absolutely necessary, like for a hot dish (which is why I try not to have hot dishes at parties). And don’t wash the dishes while guests are still there. Let em pile up wherever they land and deal with it all later. Because no one ends a party thinking, “If I only I had done more dishes, I would have enjoyed myself more!” Remember, guests came to celebrate with you, not to watch you work or feel forced into picking up a sponge in their party dress.
So just like you plan your time with your customers, plan your time with your guests. And the more planning, preparation, and thinking ahead you do, the greater chance you have of throwing “that party” that everyone still talks about. Happy hosting!
Let me know in the comments below what special treatment you give to your guests!