Hosting an event: your guide to entertaining etiquette

Holding a dinner party for six, cocktails for 40, or a party for every Tom, Dick and Jane? How do you pull off a successful event each time?

There are several factors to get right. Start with these expert tips:

Who’s who? The guest list will determine everything else – the invites, venue and theme.

  • When planning a dinner party, match up potentials, don’t mix exes, match interests and mix sexes. The smaller the group, the more important the dynamics.
  • Cocktail parties work best when everyone knows everyone or no one knows anyone. If one guest knows no one (except you), give them a +1.

Your place or mine?

  • Host your dinner party at home, but if you have a small budget, a restaurant is a good alternative. However, allow guests to see the costs beforehand.
  • If your home is small, a stand-up cocktail party for eight with buffet-style food is better than squeezing everyone around a dinner table.
  • Prefer a swish bar? Offer an open bar tab, at least for a little while, or canapes.

Your invitations. These set the tone for the entire event.

  • Mail-out invitations are a must for significant dos. They show that, like you, this party is special enough to go to the extra time and effort.
  • Choose the perfect invitation style for your event. Chic fill-ins are ideal for showers, birthdays, dinners, cocktail parties, and casual Christmas gatherings.
  • Custom-designed invitations make a statement and are perfect for significant birthdays, Christenings, anniversaries, glamorous Christmas parties, and engagements. For a more affordable option, consider printables, which can be personalized and easily printed at home or by a specialist store.
  • Most people’s diaries are full, so get the invites out at least six weeks before the event, especially if it’s a weekend. RSVPs should be at least one week before.

You are what you eat

  • Make sure you’re not spending time in the kitchen. Keep food simple, and use your fuss-free oven for cooking, especially if your home is open plan (less mess!)
  • Food – even nibblies – are a must at cocktail parties, too. You don’t want guests leaving early looking for the closest Thai takeaway!

Decorate in style

  • Make sure your venue looks just as good as an exquisitely fab frock.
  • Harsh downlights are brash, shiny and way too overexposed. Do you really think Cinderella found her prince under a fluoro? Dim the lights, or use lamps or votive candles.
  • Flowers are simple yet instantly transform a room. At the flower markets, you can buy a lot for very little.
  • Create corners for sexy secrets and flirtatious mingling – but leave space for people to move through.

On the day of the event…

  • Greet guests at the door and put a drink in their palm pronto.
  • Encourage your guests to mingle by introducing them to an interest they share.
  • You’ve put in the hard work, relax – and enjoy yourself!

What are some unique ideas for hosting a party in 2024?

There are so many unique ideas for hosting a party in 2024! Here are a few to consider:

1. Virtual Reality Party: With the advancement of technology, Virtual Reality (VR) parties are becoming increasingly popular. You can set up VR headsets and let your guests experience a whole new world while they socialize and have fun.

2. Time Capsule Party: 2024 is a significant year, so why not commemorate it by hosting a time capsule party? Ask your guests to bring items or messages that represent the current time and seal them in a time capsule to be opened in the future.

3. Sustainability-Themed Party: With the increasing awareness of environmental issues, a sustainability-themed party can be a great way to celebrate 2024. Encourage your guests to dress in eco-friendly clothing, serve sustainable food and drinks, and have eco-friendly party favours.

4. Retro/Throwback Party: Take your guests back in time by hosting a retro or throwback party. Pick a decade from the past and have everyone dress up and listen to music from that era. You can also serve popular foods and drinks from that time.

5. Space/Sci-Fi Party: 2024 marks the 55th anniversary of the first moon landing, so why not host a space or sci-fi themed party? Decorate with stars and planets, serve space-themed snacks and cocktails, and even have a photo booth with space-themed props.

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