Stop Making These Party Host Mistakes

Smiling male and female friends toasting beer in backyard
Maskot / Getty Images

Being a party host carries a tremendous amount of responsibility. From inviting the right mix of guests to planning the refreshments and cleaning up, there are some things you'll need to keep in mind from the moment you begin your planning until the last guest leaves. Your main job during the party is to make sure your guests are comfortable and having a good time. This might sound easy, but it's not. Here are some things you need to avoid doing.

Fail to Put Thought Into the Guest List

Planning who will attend your party requires quite a bit of thought. You'll need to keep several things in mind, including how many people you can invite, whether or not the people will enjoy the type of party you're planning, and the dynamic of the mix of people.

If you're having a get-together of any size, many of your guests will not know each other. That's fine. Make introductions and have some conversation starters to help prevent those awkward moments. However, if you know that they won't get along, you need to reconsider the invitees. If you still feel that you need to invite them, find common ground that might prevent conflict or create a barrier to keep them from getting together. 

Leave Information Off the Invitation

Unless you're having a very simple, casual get-together with friends you know well, be very clear about the type of party on the invitation. Do you expect your guests to dress in formal or semi-formal attire? If so, state it clearly. Do you want your guests to bring a dish to share? Put it on there. If you aren't clear about the party information, you run the risk of having some embarrassed guests who didn't dress properly or didn't know they were expected to bring something.

Forget to Tell the Neighbors

If you're having a party that involves extra cars on the street or noise, please be a good neighbor and let the people who live on both sides of you know. Even better, invite them. You might discover that your neighbors are fun and add a spark to your get-together. 

Serve the Wrong Foods

You may be someone who enjoys a wide range of unique or unusual foods, and it's fine to offer them to your guests. If you serve unusual dishes during your party, have some more familiar offerings for those guests who aren't as adventurous as you. Provide information for foods that have a story or special ingredients.

You also shouldn't try to force your guests to eat something they don't want or shouldn't have. If your guest has a sensitivity to gluten or is vegetarian, never insist they try something that they shouldn't or don't want to eat. That is rude and will make them uncomfortable. Instead, offer them the food and then accept their decision. No guest should ever be put on the defensive.

As a good host, you should have plenty of other options for them to suit the diets of your guests. You may even want to ask the guests to state dietary restrictions on the RSVP card.

Fail to Plan for Enough Ice

If you are serving cold drinks, start saving ice from your ice maker several days ahead of the party. Fill plastic food storage bags and keep them in the freezer until the party starts. Another option is to purchase ice on the day of the party. If your freezer isn't large enough, use insulated coolers.

Forget to Plan Seating

If you're hosting a dinner party, you need to have a seat for each guest. However, at open houses and most mix-and-mingle style parties, most of your guests will remain standing for the duration of their visit. Provide a few conversational seating arrangements for those who prefer to chat while sitting down.

Forget to Make Introductions

When your guests arrive, make sure they are introduced to someone they don't know. Otherwise, they may feel awkward. Your introduction should include their names and something about each person to help get the conversation started.

Fail to Plan the Music

Before the party begins, develop a music playlist based on the tastes of your guests. If you're not sure what to play or if your guests have varied tastes, start the party with softer sounds so your guests can chat. As the party progresses, crank up the volume with some upbeat music. When you're ready for the party to end, turn down the sound and soften the sounds so guests can say their goodbyes.

Engage in Massive Preparation and Workload

When planning your party, consider how much time each aspect of it takes. Do as much of the work in advance as possible. Many foods can be prepared a week in advance and frozen until the day of the party.

If you don't have someone to help you with the preparation, consider hosting a buffet rather than a sit-down formal dinner. That way, you can put everything out and enjoy your guests rather than spend all your time serving them.

There is nothing wrong with using disposable products. Put trashcans in various locations so guests can dispose of their own paper plates to save you time later.

Set Too Many Rules That Require You to Hover

Resist the urge to micromanage your get-together, even if things aren't going like you think they should. Insisting on certain behaviors from your guests will annoy them and make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, put your guests at ease by starting a conversation, playing music, and offering games, and then letting them make their own decisions. You also need to be flexible if someone you didn't invite shows up.

Let Your Guests Drive Home Intoxicated

It's fine to serve alcohol at your party, but keep an eye on things so they don't get out of hand. If you see that someone has already had enough, yet they continue to pour more, encourage them to switch to nonalcoholic refreshments.

Have a plan for anyone who has too much to drink. You have several choices. You may have a few people at your party who abstain so they can offer rides to others who have had too much. You might call a ride service or taxi. Another option is to let them stay overnight in your guest room.

Forget to Have a Good Time

Remember that this is your party, and you should have a good time with your friends. Don't get so caught up in preparation and cleaning that you miss all the fun. If someone offers assistance, accept it. There's nothing wrong with having a friend or family member come over early to help put the icing on the cake or assist with chair placement.