7 Ways to Prepare for Party Mishaps When Hosting

party hosting

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Party season is ready to launch, from office holiday gatherings to soirées with family and friends—of course, you want everything to be perfect. At the end of the evening (or afternoon), you want all attendees to leave with big smiles and full stomachs. Accomplishing such a feat requires planning and a little bit of luck. So what is a host or hostess to do? Kelsey Klos shares a few mishaps that often happen to hosts and how you can avoid them.

Klos has put together a multitude of themed children’s events and more—from a Cinco de Mayo fiesta complete with a burrito “cake” to an Andy Warhol birthday party for a 3-year-old—Klos has just about seen it all. Now, she's sharing the tips and tricks gleaned over the years with us.

Meet the Expert

  • Kelsey Klos is a party planner, blogger, and graphic designer. She is the founder of Klos and Co. and co-creator of House of Fete.

Make a Plan

First and foremost, Klos says the plan is everything. “I am a planner by nature, so I am always pretty prepared, but to me, the worst things happen when you are not ready for your guests,” she says. “This can ensure I will not enjoy the dinner or event—I know it will make my guests uncomfortable if I am running around crazy.” Sure, casual get-togethers can be a blast, but when memories matter most—be sure that you give plenty of thought to how you want your party to unfold and what you want your guests to remember after the event is over.

Get Things Ready

Execute your plan. Give yourself plenty of time before the event to ensure that everything is set up for success. Klos emphasizes the importance of make-ready work. “PREP. Many days in advance if you can and put things on others if you can,” she says. “If you can pick up something premade or rent linens from a local rental company, do it. Take the weight off of little things you can source out. Set up your tables and entertaining areas so you have less 'day of' work. Get ready first. Then when you have the ones showing up early, you can still entertain them as you finish prepping the food!”

Stock the Pantry

Despite your best efforts, you just might run out of food—a nightmare for anyone. Though you might run out of the menu you had planned, guests don’t have to leave hungry and disappointed. "Have something in the kitchen that can be whipped up quickly with very few ingredients,” Klos says. “I love making roasted tomato dip in a pinch. Just put cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and garlic in the oven for 40 minutes and use a baguette or crackers to dip.” Good eats are good eats no matter what you had planned!

Run out of alcohol or ice? Call in the online troops! “No one has to leave the house, and you can deliver just about anything in an hour!”

Don’t Crowd the Kitchen

We have all been to parties where the host is prepping the next platter or heating up an appetizer. Having too many people in the kitchen adds unnecessary stress. “Set up a bar area and an extra food table for appetizers or a place to rest dishes that are ready to serve,” Klos says. “This way, your guests can serve themselves cocktails and snacks but be out of your way.”

Label Everything

Ever been to a gathering and wondered what, exactly, was in that serving dish? Some guests won’t want to bother anyone with a question or will be self-conscious to do so. “If you are serving a cheese board or signature cocktails, make sure you label it,” Klos says. “Keep your guests from having to ask you what everything is! I love having drink tags on hand. And for the cheese boards, it’s really fun to do a little graze on butcher paper. Then you can write on the paper to label it all.”

Messes Will Happen

Just like you can’t really have a party without food and drink, you likely won’t have a party without any messes. If you get a spill that isn’t easy to simply wipe away, Klos recommends keeping stain removers on hand and making sure that your washing machine is empty and ready for use if needed.

Some spills entail a little more damage. You can mitigate the breakage of dishes or glasses with a little extra planning. “If you are emotionally attached to something breakable, reconsider using it for a larger party,” Klos says. “If you can go melamine or tossware, you won’t have to worry about glass breaking and having to clean up and protect your guests.”

“If it's Christmas dinner, use the China dinnerware. But when you can throw your items away at the end of the event, you’ll thank me! I love doing custom bar napkins for drinks and appetizers, bamboo plates for the kids, and tossware for the bar. It still feels elevated with a lot fewer dishes.”

Keep Everyone Busy

This one is especially key if the party includes any children. Kids, especially the younger set, get understandably bored listening to the grownups talk. Even some adults might need a break from the chit-chat. “I love having dominos, card games, and other fun activities out in plain sight,” Klos says. “Your guests probably won’t ask to play something if they can’t see it exists.”

With planning, preparation, and these tips, your party just be the one everyone remembers, in the best way!