Invitations. They should be clear as to attire, time, date and whether a guest is allowed. Specify your latest RSVP date.
Special Diets. Check for allergies or dietary restrictions.
Dueling Guests. Don’t let your guests get caught off guard. Encourage all parties to settle any family feuds or office animosity in advance. Notify all parties as to who is and isn’t attending.
Greetings. Greet your guests as they arrive or designate someone to do so.
Introductions. Be a conversation starter. Put people together by citing something interesting about each individual.
Music. Have holiday appropriate music playing - it’s festive and music sets the tone. Make sure it’s at a comfortable volume that doesn’t interfere with conversation.
Gifts. Ask if a host gift is to be opened at the party or saved for later. Acknowledge each gift with a verbal thank you. If you forget, follow up with a thank you call the next day. There is no need for a hand written thank you for a thank you.
* If giving out gifts or party favors, have extras on hand for surprise guests.
Seating. Have a seating plan. Sketch it onto a piece of paper. For family get togethers, mix it up - kids, adults, cousins. If space allows, try to seat the kids with the adults.
Keep feuding parties at a distance. For non family dinner parties, put guests together who will mix well, have something in common, or may bring out the best in each other such as Chatty Kathy next to Shy Sam.
Conversation. Steer conversation away from prickly topics such as religion, politics, someone’s parenting skills. If you notice that the conversation is becoming heated, take charge - change the subject, feign assistance in the kitchen. Some families and coworkers embrace controversial topics gracefully and healthily. Only you know your family or guests. Best to discourage these topics if there is a hint of doubt.
Potlucks. Make a list and have family members or guests check off what they’d like to contribute in order to avoid duplication.
Make it Fun. Have trivia fact contests about each other, draw for a raffle, play bingo, have a story telling contest. Give away small prizes to the winners. The winning number can be hidden under the coffee cup saucer, under the chair, under the butter plate.
Alcohol. Cut off alcohol at least one hour before the guests’ departure time. Call a cab or take away keys if a guest is inebriated. Know the laws in your area. They vary jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Do not serve alcohol to a minor!
To combat alcohol intake, have snacks and water pitchers placed in clear view for easy access.
Children. You may discipline someone else’s children if you have been given permission to do so or the situation is serious or disrespectful to your property or other children. Best to get the parents first, if possible.
Clean Up. Don’t be afraid to accept a little help from your family members or co-workers. If, however, this is a formal event, save the clean up for later after your guests have left.
Good-byes. Escort your guests to the door to say a proper good-bye.
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