Are You a Realistic Hostess?

Aug 9, 2012 by


by Jenny Wells


You’ve been asked to host an event in your home. Maybe it’s a girl’s night out, direct sales party, or bridal shower. “We’ll take care of everything,” you’re told. “We just need a place.” And you think, “Great! I can do that. It should be a breeze.”

I have a question for you, Readers. Do you think this is realistic?

One of the reasons I have been unable to post to Tea Party Girl as often over the last few weeks is because I attended and helped host a number of events in real life. Each involved group efforts and I found myself asking this question off and on. Here’s my top three observations and it would be great to hear some of your perspectives in the comments below.

  • If you are hosting the event in your home people will use your bathroom, ask for your ice, and be afraid of your dog. In other words, there’s a certain level of prep, availability and clean-up that will be required of you. Unless you’ve hired a professional caterer, it is unrealistic to think that whomever is coming into your home to put on the event will remember everything and need nothing.
  • Because it is your home, you help set the tone. For various reasons, I assisted at two events in a row where at the beginning, everyone bunched together in a passageway and awkwardly stood around. It would have been a great help for the homeowner to direct people where to sit, turned on some music or even helped with quick glasses of ice water.
  • Someone has to be in the kitchen. Think of your warmest memories of events/gatherings that have taken place in homes. Whether it’s with friends or family, most likely someone spent a chunk of time in the kitchen. And they were relaxed about it. Maybe they poured you a glass of wine or cup of tea while you chatted with them from the breakfast bar. Usually the best home gatherings take place when the hostess is at ease sharing her role in the kitchen with others and conversations can happen while the food prep is taking place. If you are hosting an event in your home ask yourself how you can utilize your home’s center and heartbeat, the kitchen. If the kitchen is not a place you like to be, is it realistic to host events in your home?

Last Friday evening, my family and I experienced a home gathering that provided real refreshment for the guests. It was casual. People arrived at different times. Some were family, some were friends. The ages ranged from six-over sixty. Wine flowed, laughter erupted, and guests put their feet up. The kids swam and played basketball and hide-and-go-seek. Our hostess spent time in the kitchen making enchiladas and dishing up homemade ice cream. She seemed at ease with my husband constructing a huge salad for us all and her father’s wife making margaritas while her brother and I hung out in the kitchen discovering mutual friends and a fondness for classic literature. She even found time to sit and laugh with us on occasion.

But when all was said and done, she was the one who gathered up the abandoned drinks, discovered the muddy footprints in her guest bath from the numerous children, and swept under the table where we ate. I am guessing she and her husband didn’t calculate the financial cost, but willingly gave it. How I long to be a hostess like this to others.

So what do you think? What takes a home-based event from good to great? How much hinges on the hostess? Are you a realistic hostess?

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  1. I love this post becauses it’s so true and such a good reminder! Hosting an event at home is always more work than I imagine. Usually worth it, but there is more to do than what appears on the surface.

    Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to you!

  2. No, I don’t think the “we’ll take care of everything” pitch is realistic at all. If it’s hosted in your home, you *are* the hostess, and the *hostess* takes care of everything, no matter what, in my opinion (accepting or asking for help is fine, of course, but the hostess has the final say). Frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    I think there are plenty of ways for a hostess to stay out of the kitchen for the most part when the party is going on…mainly just good pre-prep and planning. If I do end up in the kitchen as a hostess, it’s normally to help someone find or get something asked for. I have a very small “galley” kitchen, so too many people in there with me just gets too crowded, but I know that, and I plan my parties to avoid that situation as much as possible.

    Parties are a lot of work – and a “good” party is more than just a gathering of people. But with proper planning and set up, it doesn’t have to “feel” like work…I enjoy my parties as much as my guests, and really don’t work very hard at all during the party itself. In my opinion, a good hostess should be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of her planning with all the other guests, for the most part. Otherwise, there’s no point in hosting. 🙂

  3. Kim

    I think you captured all the things that make a gathering nice for me when I’m a guest – a host/hostess that’s at ease, one that offers a beverage and chats while they are preparing. I also think it adds if the host/hostess takes “oops” moments in stride – spills and the like happen, so deal with it gracefully.

    I try to plan my events so there is little I have to do at the time because I like to visit. But, I also find I like to sit in the kitchen when we visit friends’ homes.

    Good topic.

  4. I’ve been busy, and don’t comment often, but just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your thoughtful and helpful articles on hostessing.

    In all of your articles, you make me feel like I’ve been invited into your home, and served something delicious, and enjoyed good conversation with you!

    Madame Monet
    Writing, Painting, Music, and Wine

  5. Most of my friends have beautiful large homes ready for entertaining. Sadly, most of them are not willing to use their homes for this purpose. So, my home is the official party house. It has been said that it is because I give such lovely parties. While this may be true, I would like to attend a party sometime. Hosting an event does require time, skills and money. Today, Event Planners and good Caterers are now readily available to make any event an “All Star Event”! I have tried to encourage my Gal Pals to become more hospitable. Perhaps one day this will happen. Until then, I am still the High Spirited Party Hostess.

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    • I often offer classes or products and ask our list if they would like to help support us. Perhaps I should also add a donate button. Thanks for the tip.

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