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The How in Home Hospitality


Greet your guests personally at the door.

When entertaining at home, it’s not only what you do, but how you do it. It’s how you greet your guests, how you make introductions, how you serve the appetizers, and how you make your guests feel at ease.


• Open your arms as you open your home. Your home may be unpretentious and your food simple, but all can emerge dazzling if you know the how of entertaining.


• Smooth Arrivals. Be ready at least 15 minutes before the guests arrive. Use the few extra minutes for last-minute preparations, or simply, for relaxing. Guests feel uncomfortable when the host rushes downstairs from dressing as if they needed more time.


• Greet the guest personally at the door, no matter how busy you are with last-minute preparations. Be ready and relaxed to meet your guests.


• “I’d like you to meet …” Don’t just give names when introducing guests to one another. Provide your relationship to the guests, or a short fact about each person to help start a conversation. After six or eight guests arrive, do not stop all conversations when a new guest arrives, as in, “Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce Diane.” Folks may stop speaking to hear you, then go back to their conversations and ignore the new guest. Simply introduce the newly arriving guest to a few guests or better yet, to someone who isn’t speaking to anyone yet.


• “What would you like to drink?” Recognize the hesitant feeling a shy guest may have when asked what he or she would like to drink. Don’t let the conversation go like this: Host: “What do you want to drink? Guest: “What do you have?” Host: “Whatever you want.” It is better to offer some specific suggestions to make the guest feel at ease, such as, “We have red or white wine, beer, vodka, or sparkling water.” Serve the first drink, and after that, you might suggest that the guests help themselves to the bar.


• Serving the appetizer. Whether it is a colorful charcuterie platter, chips and dips, or bite-size hors d’oeuvres, place the food near the guests. If everyone is sitting around a backyard fire-pit, don’t place the food on a table far away from where the guests are sitting. It’s embarrassing to get up and walk across the lawn to get a bite.

Guests may feel that everyone is looking at them, and they probably are. Serve the first piece of food and encourage the guests to help themselves. For a large party, have multiple stations for appetizers.


• And Finally – Flexibility. Don a gown of flexibility and wear it the entire evening. Maintain your poise if something unusual happens. Don’t be unnerved if a guest is late or arrives with an uninvited friend. If you drop a plate of appetizers, or a drink spills, clean it up quickly and move on. Accidents may happen, but guests will remember long after the party how well you handled it. Flexibility will make your guests feel at ease and turn any crisis into a mere mishap. When you know the how of entertaining, your guests will feel pampered and special in your home.


By Maureen Molé

Maureen is a lecturer, product spokesperson, and the author of The Book of Entertaining at Home. Email her at MaureenMole@gmail.com

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