How to Win the Title of Hostess with the Mostest: Ten Tips to Becoming a Party Legend
Throw the Kind of Party You Want to Be Invited To
We've all been to the party where everyone feels awkward, the food is just ok, and the bathroom, well—you get it. If you've got a party to plan in your future, we're here to make sure you win and win BIG. Follow our plan and you will be crowned “Hostess with the Mostest”.
Planning a party doesn't have to mean crippling bouts of anxiety and angst. You're not the first person to throw a party so you have the benefit of those who went before you.
Not So Boring History
Partying goes as far back as our own history—painting on a cave and celebrating a kill count. People have always craved being around others. As cavemen, being isolated and alone led to a certain demise.
As time went by, parties became more than just a survival skill—they became something to look forward to, change plans for and post all over social media.
There's even an OG hostess with the mostest. Perle Mesta was the fab woman for whom the term was coined. Not only was she the United States Ambassador to Luxembourg under President Truman, she threw the hottest parties in D.C. We love her.
Her parties were the place to be and every socialite, artist, celebrity and politician made appearances at her soirees. She was such an amazing host, Irving Berlin wrote a Broadway musical written about her—that's some cray party throwing.
Let's Get This Party (Planning) Started
So, you've gotten the bug and want to invite friends over for the night. Admitting this is the first step. Say to yourself, “I am throwing a party”. Sit down if you have to. The initial stress will pass—we promise.
Now you've got to decide how long you need to plan. You're excited, sure—but don't rush it. A party thrown together last minute may end up on some beer commercial as one of the best nights of your life but that's not our experience. Give yourself time. Follow these guidelines:
Under 10 people—give yourself two weeks prep
*Special note—add two weeks to any of the above timelines if you're thinking about the month of December. This month fills up fast and people can't clear their calendars last minute.
Those Precious Invites
Sister girl, you gotta to put thought into who's coming to your event. If you're the person whose friends all belong to the same circle, you have it made in the shade and, frankly, we're jealous in a mean girl way.
Let's say you have work friends, high school friends, your boyfriend's friends and your weird cousins who all hang out with YOU. You're the common denominator—you will probably need to pick and choose. We're not talking Sophie's Choice here but there are some friends you can only mix during weddings and funerals.
If you are inviting from all walks of life, it's your job to introduce everyone to—well, everyone else.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #1
Personalize each invite with a specific note to the invitee like “I know you will have just gotten back from vacation and can't wait to hear all about it!”.
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?
You can decide on who to invite without hurting anyone's feelings. All you have to do is decide which group is coming and declare it “that party”. If it's your work friends, it's a “work party”, your high school friends get together is a “bestie's party” and so on.
When you post pictures online—and your party is going to be so good you will—your cousin won't be upset she wasn't at your work party and your secondary best friend won't cry over missing the cousins coming over.
Of course, lines will be blurred, and that's ok. Everyone has a best friend that's everywhere you are or a favorite funny co-worker that livens up every room he's in. Don't worry about it. You only have to worry about a glaring omission from a particular group—that shows willful blindness or passive aggressiveness in the first degree.
Pick Your Date and Move On
You can spend so much time lamenting over the date, figuring out who has scheduling conflicts, etc. You gotta just commit to it and never look back. If you've inadvertently picked Christmas Day and didn't mean to—yeah, change that. Otherwise, say your date loud and say it proud.
Get those invites out! And by invites we mean talking to someone, texting, emailing, using a service like Punch Bowl or actually sending paper invites through what we think is called the postal service. Just send them and ask for a reply a week before the actual day.
You can look most of the people in the eye and ask them if they're coming. It's harder to say no to Bambi eyes than it is to a text—use those eyes and get those partygoers
So, What's This Party All about Anyway?
You need to decide, buttercup, what you want your party to be. Will it be loud and raunchy? Subdued and Sophisticated? Themed or whateves? It's all up to you but you need to let people know in advance so they can dress, mentally prepare or enter a zen state for it.
You have a million—well a thousand—choices for the type of party you can throw. You want to nail this part. If you want a supes casual get together, do it! There's a way to hostess with the mostest the crap out of any kind of party. Kinds of parties to consider:
Wanna know a little secret? All of these parties are essentially the same with just a few tweaks so don't worry one might be a bigger undertaking than another, we got you boo.
If it's a luau, grab some leis from the dollar store and ask everyone to wear something tropical. Red carpet strike your fancy? Have everyone dress up and hand out awards for best dressed. It really comes down to what people wear and a few props along the way.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #2
Pick something you think will be easy for your friends to play along with. Nobody wants to feel left out but they also don't want to break the bank to be included.
You're Going to Need a Bigger List
It's true—when it comes planning a hostess with the mostest party, you can't have too many lists. You will want to make a list of the lists you need. We're not kidding.
Down to the Nitty Gritty
Let's recap—You picked your date, invites are sent and you know what kind of shin dig you're having. Right now, you're baseline on the Hostess with the Mostest scale. We need to bump that to a solid 10. Let's do this!
Let's explore the essentials of any get together and then deep dive into what it takes to be the sole diva of party throwing. That's you—the sole diva.
Ain't nothing stop a party quicker than bad food. You don't have to spend a ton of money or serve seven courses to create a big wow for your guests. The smallest touches on the simplest of foods will have your guests raving so much, you'll be fielding thank you calls for weeks.
Feast or Famine
It's hard to find the perfect amount of food to serve. It's always better to err on the side of too much than too little. However, having a fridge stuffed to the brim with finger foods isn't the greatest outcome either. We've got a good rule of thumb for you.
Make That Table Pretty
As you're planning your menu, be sure to vary the colors and textures of food available. Unless you're recreating the Red Wedding don't go for one hue. Mix vibrant colors with pale, soft food with crunchy and layered food with simple.
The same can be said for height and shape of serving dishes. Place a plate on some books with a draped colorful linen napkin to create height and depth. Oh, you fancy, huh?
Flowers make everything better. Just one or two stray flowers either laid down on the table or in small or tall vases will have people oohing and ahhing over your table. While you're at it, throw a few scent free candles around the table for ambiance.
Don't Make Your Friends Forage
You never know if someone is showing up after having not eaten all day. They don't want to eat more than their share in front of everyone. Display these snacks to stop grumbling stomachs:
Just having something to munch on helps people either snack away the hangries or eat their feelings of anxiety of having left their puppy at home for the night.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #3
Place some of your smaller offerings in unique objects like martini glasses, ornamental vases or copper mugs. Display a small dish of gum or mints when dinner is over.
Drinks, Drinks and More Drinks!
Come on, we all know who the real star of the party is. It's the bar. If you're hosting the bar, you don't have to go all out. You just need some staples and the right attitude. If you shop sales, you can hook yourself up with a respectable bar.
Here's what you need:
You've got the staples. For specific drinks you may need extra bottles of companion liquors but if that's out of your budget, forget it. People will understand if you don't have the ingredients for a Harvey Wallbanger.
You can ask your guests to bring anything special they want to drink. You don't have to have top shelf bourbon on hand for your best friend's boyfriend's friend.
If you're budgeting, ask people to bring a bottle of red or white or pick up a six pack of beer. People expect that so you're still rockin' it.
A great bar has to have condiments. Luckily, these are cheap and plentiful. Here's your list:
Don't forget about the guests that don't drink or are driving those that are. Have something special for them like sparkling water or craft cream soda.
Now you're ready to live it up! Have index cards with drink recipes handy so you look so cool people won't be able to stand it—in a good way.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #4
Create and name your own special drink. It can be as simple as rimming a glass with sugar and adding a splash of soda and cranberry to vodka. Name it something that has to do with you, the people invited, etc. You're killing this hostess thing.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #5
Add fruit to water, put it in an ice cube tray and freeze. Plop a strawberry infused ice cube into fruity drinks or a mint infused cube into a sour drink. Serious brownie points.
You may be thinking "I'm not throwing a kid's birthday party"—unless you are—"why do I need decorations?" We're not necessarily talking about streamers and party hats. You can add touches that will create great ambiance and asetting for a really memorable night.
Get yourself a bag of unscented tea light candles—unscented because you don't want to overwhelm everyone with jasmine-latte-lavender-pumpkin scent. You can use tea light holders if you have them or simply use glassware or bowls you're not using as serve ware and place them all around your house—don't forget the bathroom!
Grab a cheap dozen roses or other bouquet from the grocery store and break it up into small cute bouquets placed in those random stray glasses we all have. Cut them as short as you need to fit the glass, fill with water and put them all over the main room where people will linger. Presto! Class for days.
Balloons. Stay with us here. Just nine white, black or silver balloons broken up into groups of three and placed in three corners really adds a pop of classy color and festivity to your shin dig. Do it, it will be way more awesome than you think.
To Party Favor or Not to Party Favor…
This is toats above and beyond and that's what you're going for, right? RIGHT? This doesn't have to be cheesy or break the bank, but it certainly will create the buzz about you you're going for. It's always best to give your guests something on their way out—they'll keep talking about you and your party long after they're gone.
You can go for simple. If you've made a killer bite size dessert, you know will take people to nirvana, make extra and put them in cutie little bags or boxes for them to take home along with the included recipe. WHAT?? You're a genius.
If you know your peeps will be drinking, send them home with a hangover kit. Add a small bottle of Gatorade, individual packets of ibuprofen and antacid and a granola bar. They will be praising your name at noon the next day.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #6
On whatever container you're sending home scroll in fancy handwriting with a special marker each guest's name on the package. Instant thoughtfulness.
That's My Jam!
There is no party without music. There's a science to successfully pulling this off. You need a few playlists.
First—you need music to play softly as people enter and start to mingle. You don't want to distract from conversation, but you also don't want people to feel like everyone can hear what they're saying. Keep it low, keep it mellow.
Second—everyone has arrived, and the bar is busy. Put on your next playlist that's a little livelier. Make this one filled with songs people know and want to either sing along to or exclaim “I love this song!!”. If you know people's favorite songs or bands add one or two for each person to this playlist.
Third—So, the party's winding down and you're tired. Switch to a mellow playlist. This will subliminally calm people down and have them dreaming of their own bed. You've asked them to start wrapping it up without ever saying a word.
Last Minute Touches
There are a couple of things often overlooked that shouldn't be. Be sure to double check the following:
Nobody has ever been more ready.
You knew this moment would come. Your guests are arriving. This is what you've been training for.
It's important to have a plan for the very first guest. People can feel lame for being the first to show. Get them a drink right away. If you're still preparing, do not put them to work or have them do something simple like take a tray to the serving area.
Instead say something like “I'm so glad we have time to ourselves, what's going on in your life?” Unless it's your best friend from 3rd grade—make her sweat with chores and tasks.
Once more people show up, it's time to put on your hostess hat and get to work socially. You need to spend time with everyone. Make sure they're comfortable and bring up subjects important to them. Don't get cornered—you have to mingle.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #7
If someone brings you a hostess gift like a box of chocolates, candle or flowers, use or display them immediately. It will make them feel good to know you loved it and had to share it ASAP. If people comment on it, tell them who it's from and compliment their good taste.
The Loners and the Stragglers
Keep your eye out for anyone standing alone. Coax them into another group by telling others something awesome about the loner. “Did you know Christine just saw Ariana Grande?”. If that's awesome—if not, pick anything people can ooh and ahh over.
Inevitably someone may hang out longer than everyone else. It's ok. You can handle this. First, try just thanking them for coming. Blab on about how great it was to see them, and you hope you can get together again soon. Most people take the hint.
If they're sticking around because they've had too much to drink, offer to call them an Uber. It's better they get home safely and you go to bed 15 minutes later.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #8
Instead of asking people “How's it going?”, always ask something specific of everyone. “How is that cute little dog of yours doing?” “Tell me all about your trip.” These questions really impress people and make you stand out as a super-duper people person.
Look! We Had So Much Fun!
Just because the party was yesterday, doesn't mean your duties ended there. Go through all the pics you took the night before and post the most flattering of those pictures. Tag the people involved and add super complimentary captions.
Go through your invitees' pages and add fun comments to their pictures of your party. These comments will give your friends warm fuzzies and lets them know they were an important part of the festivities.
Send out thank you texts or emails. Add a personal snippet from the night before. “Thank you for bringing the best wine ever!” or “You're the best storyteller, can't wait to do it again.” You're literally going down in the history books.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #9
Send individuals photos of themselves that may be hilarious but not the most flattering. Let them decide to post it or not. It'll also make them think you were scrolling through pics and absolutely HAD to text them.
You've Been Crowned
Yep, you did it. You are the Hostess with the Mostest. Give yourself time to bask in the glory of this moment. Once your ego is properly stroked, start planning your next big event.
When you're at other parties, take note of what awesome things other people do. Then steal their idea and put your own spin on it. When they see their idea re-created at your place and you give them credit for it, you're stroking their ego and your crown becomes a little more embellished.
Remember, heavy is the head that wears the crown. As the reigning hostess with the mostest, you have a reputation to uphold, so keep a journal of great ideas you have so you can refer to these stray ideas as you are ramping up to your next get together.
Hostess with the Mostest Tip #10
As you're out and about, stop by thrift stores to pick up quirky vases, glasses and plates. You'll have cute items for food, candles or flowers and you will switch up what your guests see at each party. You're amazing.
You did it. You won.