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Hosting a House party for the Holidays!

By Heidi Vail & Tanya Schmit

There is nothing that says ‘I care about you!’ more than hosting someone in your home. Whether it is having another couple over for dinner, or hosting a large crowd for a cocktail party – it says a lot that you open your home for family, friends, and associates. Furthermore, a company holiday party at the boss’s home really shows that the company you work for values – and respects - you as an employee. Anyone can go to a restaurant, hotel, or other venue for a party. The parties at a home are personal and mean so much more.

That’s where catering comes in – you clean, put up the holiday decorations, and provide the home venue – let the professionals do the rest!

Many of us are worried about working the space, and the work involved in getting the job done. I have said many times, “Do the things you love and hire someone to do the rest!” If you like to decorate your home, put your effort into doing that. If it’s the cooking you desire, do that (but then hire someone to serve your food; so you can actually host during the event)!

Also, make sure there is plenty of light everywhere your guests will be. I’ve always had a lighting company come and do the lighting. It really makes a big difference when the winter sun sets so early. It creates the mood! I have the entry done, the side yard, the back yard and of course plenty of light on the food stations and for the bar.

Don’t over plan your seating unless you are planning to have a meal that everyone will need to eat with a knife and fork (like Thanksgiving). You want people to mix and mingle. High top tables are good. Plan no more than one third of your guest count for seating at any given time for a cocktail style event.

If your space is tight, plan to have all the food hand passed. The caterer can work from the garage so they are out of sight if you have a tight kitchen! If you are hosting your event during a main meal time offer at least 8 to 10 hearty hors d oeuvres per guest. If space allows, offer a grazing station for self-consumption; like Charcuterie and cheeses. These self-serve stations are great – it still allows people to mix and mingle.

It’s always smart during the cold winter months to have some coffee with the condiments and sweets out for self-service. You can add liquors to the station as well if you desire.

Have a signature beverage premade and offered as guests arrive. If they don’t care for your welcome beverage they can go to the bar. Speaking of, it is important to always have a professional insured bartender serving drinks. The person that is bartending should not be a guest, friend, or anyone drinking anything at all. Arizona is a shared responsibility state. You, as The Host, will be responsible if one of your guests drives drunk and hurts someone.

Music is key! It’s another creator of mood. If you can’t afford live entertainment (which is always a crowd pleaser!), a good pre-thought through play list will suffice that satisfies the guests attending your event.

If you want to offer a special time of entertainment for your event (like a Santa visit, dancers, singers, etc.), it’s best to plan that about half-way through your event.

As funny as it sounds, paying attention to your bathrooms is also a key part of your party! Be sure to have disposable hand towels in the restroom. It’s not sanitary to have everyone using a cloth towel. Make sure there are extra tissues and toilet paper, visible; and some freshening spray or a candle.

As the Host and Hostess of your event, be available to greet your guests as they arrive and to say good bye. A small gift is a thoughtful way to say ‘thank you for coming’. Something they can eat later or remember you buy.

And last but not least, have everything prepped before the day of the party. Don’t wear yourself out preparing for a party; you won’t be any fun during the event. Greet the caterer, then go get a facial or massage and let us do the rest!