As the sales manager of the Nomad Hotel in New York, John Sutherland is in the business of hospitality and entertaining guests.
He knows how stressful it can be to play hostess as you mail the invitations, plan your menu and prep your venue or home for the influx of party-goers. Whether its a small family get-together or a raucous New Year's Eve party with friends, John shares his tips and tricks to not only keeping the party going but your sanity as well.
Make it a thematic occasion. “It’s a great way to break the ice when you pick a fun theme or occasion. Plus it can give guests direction on what to bring,” says John Sutherland. With a bit of imagination, any theme is bound to get your guests giddy with excitement for the big event and help guide the planning process. Setting a theme can be as simple as choosing a color pallet and using it in the invitations and decorations or basing it around food choices and party favors. Host a Gossip Girl – like masquerade ball or High Roller Casino night because themes like these instantly give guests something to talk about.
Include key details in the invitation. Deciding on a guest list can be semi stressful so entertain the idea of inviting a mix of friends. John Sutherland says he, “loves when two separate friend groups collide!” After creating an eclectic guest list, send out comprehensive invitations with all the needed details. An invitation should clearly state the: host’s name; date, time, and location of the event; type of party (casual or formal); theme; suggested attire; and contact and RSVP information
Plan, plan, plan. Follow detailed lists while shopping for ingredients and party items. Lists will keep your mind focused and avoid being side tracked like typical shopping sprees. Also, have a running check list of all that you need to accomplish up until the final hour. Being as best prepared as possible will help you remain calm and keep your curls intact. Enjoy your party as much as the rest of the party-goers. It’s a party for you too, after all!
Serve up icy cocktails and icebreakers. “Get people out of their comfort zone!” John exclaims. Pour some marvelous margaritas or scrumptious martinis and liven up the party with quick games or conversation starter cards from TableTopics. John lastly advises that as a host, “Always remember to not sit next to the person you know [best]” and continue getting people mixing and mingling. Personally introduce one person to another or a new individual to a group but wait for the most opportune moment to do so and avoid imposing on a serious conversation. A helpful etiquette tip is to say the name of the older or higher ranking person first. If they are equal in those regards then say the name of the person you know best first. Liven up the conversation from the get go by mentioning a commonality between the two.
Be a hostess with the most-est. As a host, your priority is making guests feel welcome at all times so be extra attentive and jovial. Ask someone if they want another drink when their glass is empty and use your peppy social skills to include everyone. When glitches happen, and they most likely will, remember to be flexible, gracious, and polite. Throughout the party do not feel obligated to clean excessively or find yourself trapped in the kitchen. Simply clear plates and pick up small pieces of trash but don’t load the dishwasher and lug out garbage bags. For a final reminder John says, “Get off your phone, please! Instagram can wait." Take pleasure in the moment and have a fabulous time surrounded by delightful friends.