When your hosting skills are brought to the test, don't fail.
- Take your guest's coat. Do not put them on the bed.* Hang them up. Small, unrealistic closet? Rent a sales man's rack or invest in one (I have two).
- Your guest's shoes are part of their outfit - allow them to keep them on. I bring fancy house slippers with me just in case the dreaded pile of shoes is at the door.
- Offer your guest a drink after you've taken their coat and before they're more than five steps in the door. Tip: have non-alcoholic drinks (soda, tonic and juice), red wine, white wine, bubbles, beer, vodka, rum, rye, scotch, tequila, gin, sweet and dry vermouth and cognac. Don't forget fresh ice, cocktail napkins, lemons, limes, olives and cocktail straws.
- Never introduce your guest's boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancee, spouse or whatever, as such. They have an identity of their own.
- You are responsible for your guest's safety. Read my post, How to Deal with Drunk Guests.
- Keep the lights and the music low.
- If you're a couple, work tag team. Lay out each of your defined 'duties' beforehand and cover each other's backs with refilling drinks, conversation starters, toilet paper and hand towel checks, lit candles, cleared plates and stocked ice.
- Never let them see you sweat. As far as your guest is concerned you're already the monarch of the mingler - they don't need to see the dirty dishes. Get some of those big plastic crates with tops and hide your dirty dishes in there until the guests leave. Throw a table cloth over it and they'll never know. I used to hide stuff in the bathtub of my ensuite.
- Accept that you'll have a guest that snoops in the medicine cabinet of your bathroom. You know what to do with that stuff.
- To prevent guests from overstaying, lay out a start and end time in your invite. If there are still stragglers start unloading those crates with the dirty dishes in them.
image from the collection of Stacy Reynaud
Originally published December 27, 2010