How We Host & the Not Just a Mom Link Up

This month's Not Just a Mom group is discussing how we host; just in time for all the big family holidays!  

I hope you'll head over and check out my co-hosts posts too and if you wrote up one of your own please link it up with us below. 


Lucky for you,  I just hosted a small gathering a couple weeks ago for Evan's birthday so I took notes and photos!

Obviously,  how I host changes a bit from season to season and depending on the event or holiday,  but there are some things I always do to try and make sure the party goes as smoothly as possible.

When we first moved into our house I hosted ALL the events-- every holiday, every family gathering, etc.  Then about the time we began homeschooling I decided it was all too much and took a couple years off from hosting anything.  Now, I'd say we settled in for a happy medium where we host some scattered parties and events. 

All those years of hosting really taught me a lot.  

Here is how I host:

1.  Plan!  I plan out everything from what time and what day we host to what the menu will be, who will be invited, what serving dishes/plates/ platters I'll use (I'll even pull them out of the cabinet and use sticky notes to label said platters/dishes), when I'll shop for food, when I'll clean, if and how and I'll decorate, etc.  Depending on the size of the party some I just roughly plan in my head some I plan out in detail on paper. 

2. Clean up the house or yard-- I try to clean close enough to our hosting event that the house and/or yard will look presentable but try not to have much that needs cleaning on the actual day other than a quick once over of the actual rooms we'll be using for the event-- usually the kitchen and bathroom and maybe a quick vacuum of the living room rug.  

3. Set up buffet style-- We have always made every meal, indoor or out, buffet style as I think that works best for large groups and when we host it's ALWAYS a large group.  When hosting indoors I try to set up different stations around the kitchen so everything is not shoved into one corner. 

We have a coffee/drink station

Dishes/ silverware/ etc. lined up next to the stove where food will be-- sometimes I set the place setting out other times I don't.  Since this was a really informal get together I didn't this time

Salad station complete with bowls-- since not everyone eats salad I know what bowls are still clean and can just get put away instead of washing them all. 



4. Set out extra seating-- again whether the party is inside or out I try to set up extra chairs around the house in clusters that are conducive to visiting. 



5. Enlist help-- I used to try to do EVERYTHING myself since I am a control freak but enlisting help just works best and I've lightened up enough to let go of my idea of a "perfect" party.  My kids and husband help clean, I'll often have Alec made the dessert or a side dish, sometimes we do pot-luck sides where I make the main dish and everyone else brings one or two to share.  My mom or mother in law almost always bring coffee and creamer since we don't drink coffee and I never know what to get.  My mother in law always end up cleaning the dishes afterwards and while I used to argue with her and get her to go sit down now I just say "thank you!" and leave her to it.  People like to and genuinely want to help-- let them if they offer!

6. Make sure the dishwasher is empty-- Before hosting an event I try to make sure all the dirty dishes have been cleaned and put away and our dishwasher is empty and waiting; that way the boys can help load the dirty dishes in as the party is going and we just start it once full.  It cuts down on the amount of dishes my mother in law ends up washing. 

7. Get all food prepped ahead of time-- I usually try to plan low-fuss meals for a party so I'm not spending all my time in the kitchen.  I do prepare as many dishes as I can ahead of time. I prep those foods that I do need to cook during the party before the party starts; for example, I have all my vegetables washed and either in a Ziploc bag or the actual pan they'll be cooked in if I can fit in the fridge. 

Any foods that don't need to be refrigerated get put out before the guests arrive too. 



8. Have all the essentials at the ready-- When hosting a lake side party I make sure to have extra towels, sunscreen, goggles, etc. at hand. When hosting Christmas brunch we have garbage bags near where we'll open gifts.  For the kids parties I always put the goodie bags right by the door for guests to grab on their way out with a sign telling them to do so and thanking them for coming.  For a sit down dinner I set the table days in advance. 


9. Work smarter; not harder--
Anything that can be done ahead of time I do; set the table 3 days before Thanksgiving, use some store bought ready to eat items as well as homemade, I make my apple pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas in either September or October and have them in the freezer so I just need to thaw them out. 




10. ENJOY it! When all is said and done if you can't enjoy the party/ holiday and spend time really visiting with family then all the hard work just will not feel worth it.  Try not to sweat the small stuff and know that not everything is going to go according to plan.  Most people are there to have fun, see their friends/family, and really don't care if all goes to hell and you end up ordering pizzas... it'll be a fun story for you all to laugh over years from now.  Planning only gets you so far and you have to be willing to roll with the punches. 



I hope you'll join us next month when we share the Internet Made Me Buy It!





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Comments

  1. You sound like a wonderful host. Buffet type meals work really well for a big group of people. x

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  2. I love all the tips. I also love your kitchen and that you set up a salad station. Our salads seem to get mixed in and never eaten. I wonder if I did that separate if that would help.

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    1. We are big salad eaters over here so I prepare a huge bowl and usually at least 1/2 of it is gone. I try make sure I have lots of fun toppings for it too like croutons, bacon bits, nuts, etc.

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  3. Great tips! I never thought to freeze homemade pie. Making pie makes such a mess so it would be nice to not have to deal with the mess shortly before hosting an event. I also set my dining room table a couple days in advance. It seems like *some* work is always required the day before and the day of the event (no matter how much prep you've done before) so to already have the table set is so nice.

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  4. I totally agree with "buffet style" - it surely sets you up for success when hosting- thanks for sharing your tips!

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    Replies
    1. I wanted an island in my kitchen for just that reason (but was told it was much too small & I knew they were right)..

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  5. I love having a buffet for company. It makes the group more informal and fun. #MMBC

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  6. These are all fantastic tips! I agree about the empty dishwasher, enlisting help and doing what I can beforehand!!

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  7. Super hosting tips! I miss hosting - I need to start again.

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    Replies
    1. That's how I started to feel after not hosting for a few years. Now it's fun again!

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  8. Yes to all of this. I love being able to grab my own coffee when I'm at someone's house, it's a welcoming touch. Sarah M. (not Anonymous, my computer won't let me sign in!)

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    1. LOL! I know so many people are having problems with that. I don't know why companies can't just leave well enough alone.

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  9. You look like a great host Joanne. You have everything organized and ready to entertain. I enjoyed reading about all of your helpful tips.

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  10. I can tell you are so good at hosting. Such great tips here! I've never frozen a homemade pie. Might have to give this a try. The holidays always get so stressful and then I end up buying pies even though I do have some good recipes and I'd love to make my own!
    The view outside your living room window is breathtaking!

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    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you! We do love our view. Just make sure you wrap the pie well and it will last in the freezer up to 6 months!

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  11. So many fabulous tips here. I especially love the one about letting other people help. I always feel guilty accepting offers to clean up and it’s great advice to share this out. You sound like a terrific hostess, I can see why you are very busy planning!

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  12. YES to buffet style hosting. It makes everything so much easier. Have a wonderful week!

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  13. That's so smart to make things and then freeze them. As an only child it all rests on my shoulders so some years we go out to eat.
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofsytle.com

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    1. That's why I quit for a few years! LOL. It always all fell to my shoulders and it got to be too much. I'm not an only child but none of my siblings like to cook or host. I literally don't think I have ever spent any holiday at any of their houses...

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  14. What a great idea to make sure the dishwasher is emptied beforehand. That makes cleanup after the party much easier! Lauren, not Anonymous!

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  15. These are all such smart tips, Joanne! I need to be better organized when I host!

    https://marshainthemiddle.com/

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  16. I loved planning kid's parties and was so sad when the teen years hit and none of them wanted parties anymore.

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  17. I agree with all of these practical tips! And like a few other have mentioned, I love the idea of freezing a pie!

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  18. Buffet style is the easiest and I always need lists!

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    Replies
    1. I rely on lists for everything; even when we're not hosting anything.

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  19. I love that you just hosted! Buffet style is the best. I've learned through the years that enlisting help is a life saving approach and makes me enjoy hosting more!

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    1. It was convenient; otherwise I wouldn't have had any photos for this post.

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