The life of a host or hostess is not an easy one.
You have to make sure everything runs smoothly and on time. But more importantly, you need to make sure everyone is having a good time.
We’ve put together 24 great tips for how to host a food and drinks event people will remember. Follow them to create the right atmosphere and make the conversations flow.
1. Set the tables
The table is your canvas when you curate culinary art. Make sure that the tables are set in a manner that complements what you’re serving. Set them early in the day so it’s out of the way.
2. Arrange the seating
It’s optional to assign seats, but it can sometimes help make the conversations flow. Play matchmaker and try to pair up people who have something in common.
3. Organise seats and tables alphabetically
If you do table plans and assign seats, try to avoid name cards. It can be difficult to skim through at a large event. Make it easy for your guests by arranging it in alphabetical order.
4. Cue up the music
Music is not only good for creating the right atmosphere. It can also help guests avoid awkward silences during the meal. Use Spotify to find a playlist that matches the theme of the dinner.
5. Prepare transport and accommodation
If the venue is in a far-off or difficult-to-access place, do your guests a solid by researching transportation and accommodation. Have numbers for local taxis and hotels at hand for later.
6. Food safety
Make sure you adhere to food safety standards. As a rule of thumb, keep cold food in the fridge until it’s time to serve it. Replenish snacks in small quantities so they don’t spoil.
7. Make everyone feel special
All your guests are VIPs at your event, and you should treat them as such. Greet everyone personally at the start of the evening, and make sure shy guests are introduced to others.
8. Start it off right
Once the guests have arrived, it’s time to kick off the festivities. You should have a nice welcome drink and some nibbles for the guests so they can whet their appetite.
9. Hors d’oeuvres
The hors d’oeuvres you serve when guests arrive should be small but delicious. Cheese and crudité platters are always a good choice. Make sure you spread them out evenly across the room.
10. Announce the menu
Now is also a good time to announce what the guests will be treated to. You can kill two birds with one stone here. First, you build hype around the food. Second, you preempt any dietary requirements some guests might have.
11. Maintain wine temperature
It’s important to make sure the wine has the right temperature. As a rule of thumb, red wine should be 12–18 degrees, and white wine should be 8–12 degrees. Remember to decant red wine 30–60 minutes before serving.
12. Pair the wines with the right food
Have a think about what food will go well with the wines you’re serving. Even if your event is a wine tasting, you should have some cheeses and grapes to match the drinks.
13. Break the ice
Unless everyone already knows each other, you should try to break the ice early on. Introduce guests to each other or prepare a fun game that does it for you.
14. Let the guests help out
Don’t be afraid to let the guests help you if they offer to do so. It might intuitively seem unprofessional, but it can also be awkward if you insist on doing everything yourself.
15. Make no apologies
Unless something goes terribly wrong, you shouldn’t make any apologies for the food. The guests will not appreciate every dish being introduced with a disclaimer.
16. Serve the dinner quickly
You have to make sure everyone gets served within a short time-frame. That way, no one has to sit and wait for their dinner while others are eating…or waiting as their food gets cold.
17. Change seats
It’s optional to change seats halfway through the evening. But it can be a useful way to encourage people to mingle with a different crowd, rather than sitting with the same one all night.
18. Keep the conversation clean
As a host, it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone has a good time. If a heated topic is brought up (Brexit, anyone?), try to change the subject if it makes anyone uncomfortable.
19. Pay attention to body language
A more subtle way you can facilitate a good time is to pay attention to the body language of your guests. If the guests are starting to look bored, it’s time to move the event on to the dessert.
20. Finish off with dessert
It’s a nice touch to finish off with a bit of dessert. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but something sweet hits the spot. Serve it with coffee or tea, but try to keep the coffee decaf.
21. Remember to relax
Although your responsibilities as a host are many, it’s important you relax as well. Not only will you have a better time, but it’s not nice to see the host constantly stressed out and on edge.
22. Thank the guests for coming
As the evening draws to a close, it’s important to thank everyone for coming along. It will make them feel appreciated, and increase the likelihood of them attending the next event you put on.
23. Ask for feedback
Although you should always follow up the day after the event, it’s not inappropriate to poll a few guests on the night. Ask them for a bit of feedback, and see if you could improve anything for future events.
24. Walk people to the door
Remember those taxi and hotel numbers you collected earlier? They might come in handy now. In any case, you should follow people to the door and send them off home properly.
You now know how to host a food and drinks event.
Hopefully, you’ve managed to pull off a great event and avoid uncomfortable topics and awkward situations.
If you’ve picked up any tips that we didn’t cover here, feel free to share them in the comments section below.