The Secrets of a Winning Hostess


From her birthday BBQ to her 4th of July picnic, Justine Dungo ofPretty in Pistachio has set the bar high for party hosting.


Her snack bars of simple DIY crafts and homemade recipes are the things Pinterest dreams are made of. Here Justine lets you in on how to easily pull together a holiday party that will wow your guests.


Pick a color scheme with a single accent. Festive décor begins with your color scheme to anchor the decorations. Select two dominant colors (either complementary colors or shades of one color) and a single accent color and weave it through your display. Here Justine selected a popping color palette of silver and gold with a red accent. Incorporating different textures—like the smooth brushed gold and silver trays and glittery pinecones with metallic tinsel—adds depth to your overall display, while the limited color palette keeps it from being too busy. Also, introduce varying heights to your table by draping the tablecloth over stacked boxes. It is an easy way to break up the space and draws guests into your presentation.



Give the illusion that your party came together effortlessly. To make your guests believe hosting is second nature to you, prepare as much as possible in advance, like moving around your sofa the night before. The more you complete before guests arrive, the more you can prepare for unanticipated snafus like a carpet that, without a couch on it, needs serious vacuuming.


When it comes to your menu, select recipes that are simple but stunning and can be served cold or at room temperature—like Justine’s strawberry and mascarpone crostini. This way you can cook everything the morning of your party and give yourself ample time to clean up the kitchen afterward. Also, keep fresh trays of food ready in the kitchen to replenish the table as guests eat up the snacks.



Strategize your room’s layout. The day before your party, move and arrange your furniture. Bring in extra chairs. Push the coffee table off to the side. Help your guests flow through your space by placing the bar, snacks table and seating all around the room. Station your bar away from the door to avoid a bottleneck of arriving guests and those going in for a refill. Multiple snack tables can be set up throughout the room to keep guests from gathering in only one corner.



Serve homemade treats alongside pre-packaged items. Alleviate some hosting stress by preparing one or two show-stealing appetizers and then filling in your menu with store-bought goodies. The presentation will make all the food look thoughtful and, more importantly, not taken straight out of the box. No food should be served from its original packaging. Lay out store-bought treats on a tray with the same care as your homemade fare. Mix together your recipes with premade treats in a beautiful display and no one will think twice about the food itself—they’ll be so dazzled by your snack table that everything will look homemade and delicious!



Dedicate time to get yourself ready. The room is filled with delicious foods, bubbly cocktails and cheer, so now it’s time for you to match your décor. You should dazzle as well as your table, so allocate time before your party to get ready, too—there is no uncomfortable caught-in-the-act moment quite like walking in on a hostess frantically frosting cupcakes with rollers in her hair. Lay out your sequined dress and shoes in advance. Keep your makeup and hair simple and natural: as you move throughout the party—tidying up tables, pouring wine, and mingling with guests—you don’t want to worry about your chignon falling or eyeliner smearing. A brilliant red lip will give your makeup routine a merry allure without requiring any additional effort.




How do you prep for hosting guests yourself? Have any hosting secrets of your own to share? Share them with us on our Facebook page!