10 Ways to Up Your Hosting Game (Details That Make a Difference!)

hosting details that make a difference"
hosting details that make a difference
Source: Alaina Kaz
Source: Alaina Kaz

When I think about the last event I was invited to that truly wow-ed me, I’m hit with several fond memories. And while time spent with good company was a primary focus, what really stood out to me about the event itself was the attention to detail the hostess took to make all of the guests feel welcomed and ready to celebrate. I remember matching tablecloths and napkins, gorgeous dinnerware, and refreshments worth praising. With not a single plastic spoon in sight, it was clear she went the extra mile to make the event special. 

While hosting in general takes effort, it’s become clear to me that there are a lot of small touches that can elevate an event—and they don’t have to add hours or hundreds of dollars onto the planning process. When it comes time to plan your next event or gathering and you want to step up your hostess game, refer to this list of our 10 best hosting tips. 

1. Opt for Snail Mail Invitations

The first step to hosting any event is inviting your guests. While sending out digital invites—either via text or through an e-vite site—can sometimes be the easiest and most cost-effective route, a paper invite will always feel extra special. We especially love when an invitation perfectly reflects the gathering’s theme, and platforms like Canva and Minted have plenty of pretty options to help you do just that. And, at the end of the day, who doesn’t love getting fun snail mail?! 

2. Decorate with Fresh Flowers

This tip doesn’t have to be fancy or overly complicated to be special—even a single bloom in a few vases around the home adds such a lovely touch and creates a sense of occasion. Utilizing fresh flowers in any capacity shows that extra care and effort was put into planning the event. But, by all means, if a bigger bouquet or two is in the budget, that can really add to a party’s decor. If the gathering is taking place in the summer or early fall while farmer’s markets are still open, you can usually find lovely bouquets there at great prices. 

3. Consider Lighting and Fragrance

Creating the right ambiance when it comes to lighting and scents is also crucial. Turn off any bright, overhead lights and instead lean heavily on candles, lamps, and dimmed lights during your party to create the perfect mood lighting. When it comes to fragrance, it’s helpful to only have one scented candle lit. But, if you have a second lit in the bathroom (which can be a really nice touch), make sure the scent mirrors or is the same as the other as to not overwhelm anyone’s senses. 

hosting tips
Source: Elevae Visuals

4. Thoughtfully Curate a Playlist

The right music can enhance any gathering’s atmosphere, just like the wrong music can leave guests in a totally different mood altogether. Curate a playlist that suits the mood and energy level of your event. Whether it’s background jazz, upbeat tunes for a dance party, or mellow acoustic melodies, music can elevate the overall experience if it’s done thoughtfully. 

5. Pre-Plan the Evening’s Activities

Whether you’re hosting a game night or a dinner party, it’s helpful to pre-plan for whatever the evening’s activities may entail so you’re not thinking about it in the moment. We’ve found it’s great to have some easy, conversation-starting and laughter-inducing games ready for guests to ensure everyone gets to know each other and the night flows easily. Buy a pack of conversation-starter cards, pick up a simple trivia game, or come up with a game yourself that can even be personalized to your party’s theme or the guests invited. 

6. Be Mindful of Dietary Preferences

Ask your guests about their dietary needs in advance and, if possible, provide alternative options to accommodate everyone. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have a vegetarian option available for anyone who doesn’t eat meat. Likewise, knowing if someone has a gluten or dairy intolerance, a nut allergy, or the like and taking that into consideration when planning what you’ll serve will make a big difference in your guests’ experience and let them know you were thinking of them. 

7. Opt for Pretty Dishes and Servingware

Presentation makes a big difference… especially when it comes to the food you’re serving. Whether your event calls for simple appetizers (like chips and fresh salsa) or a three-course meal, it’s nice to swap paper plates and plastic cups in favor of using china, serving-ware, and cloth napkins. Also be sure to plate the items you are serving to guests and display them in a way that feels beautiful and special. We always recommend refraining from serving anything in the container it came in—meaning no dip in its original plastic tub!—and instead transfering it into a pretty bowl or onto a serving platter to be passed.  

hosting tips
Source: Elevae Visuals

8. Consider the Seating Arrangements

Seating arrangements can greatly influence the dynamics of an event. If you’re hosting a casual gathering like a game night, it can be helpful to consider where everyone will sit to ensure there’s enough space and that all guests have a comfortable option. For a dinner party or more formal event, take the guesswork out of who sits where by using place cards—plus, they double as pretty tabletop decor! 

9. Create an Inviting Atmosphere for Guests

It’s important for your guests to feel welcomed right from the get-go at your event, and there are lots of simple ways to make this happen. If you’re hosting at home, make sure you have a place ready for guests to put their things (handbags, coats, shoes, etc.) after they walk through the door. Additionally, lighting a candle and having music playing will add a warm touch to the space. I’ve even taped a “come on in!” sign on my door so no one is standing outside too long. This is especially helpful when noise picks up and it makes it difficult to hear knocking. By implementing a few of these simple things, you can create a “make yourself at home” atmosphere for your guests in no time. 

10. Prep Food and Drinks Ahead of Time

When it comes to the food and drink at your event, consider options and ease for both yourself and your guests. For drinks, it’s helpful two have two types of wine (red and white are classics), flavored sparkling water for non-alcoholic drinks, pitchers of water, and plenty of ice on hand. If you opt for a signature drink or cocktail, make it easy on yourself by making a pitcher beforehand so it’s ready to be served. For appetizers, serve bite-sized options that are easy for guests to eat with their hands and be sure to have cocktail napkins easily accessible. If you’re hosting a dinner party, consider prepping a bunch of the food ahead of time so you’re not spending all night in the kitchen and can enjoy time with your guests. 

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