I've always wanted to be a hostess. When my extended family would get together for holidays or just because, I could hardly wait 'til I was grown up and could host the family gatherings. I've had my future guest room mentally planned for ten years (our blue and yellow wedding quilt, antique brass bed, old blue trunk, slanted ceilings, and a window seat).
But there is more to hostessing than just inviting people. Here are my tips on how to be a good dinner-party hostess.
1. Never apologise.While the scuffs on the wall or unfinished decorating or outright holes in the wall (mine has been there for 18 months!) might be glaringly obvious to you, I promise your friends and family won't notice them. If they do, it's their problem.
2. Have a plan for cleaning but if it doesn't get done, ignore it.I can clean my house 'til I think it's sparkling, but as soon as my guests walk in the door I'm sure to notice something, like the fact that I forgot to clean the fingerprints off the fireplace glass. I can choose to be embarrassed, I can make my guest uncomfortable by cleaning it right then, or I can ignore it and enjoy my guests.
3. Pick something to cook that you know you can't mess up.Or better yet, make it a potluck. The one time we had all of my husband's aunts and uncles, etc over for dinner, my husband insisted on making spaghetti and meat sauce. It worked, everyone was well fed with delicious food, and since he was cooking, I had nothing to stress about! My personal fail-proof meal is my mom's Japanese Chicken Wings recipe.
4. Focus on enjoying your guests.They didn't come to the party to admire your house or be blown away by your cooking. They came to spend time with you. So give them what they came for.
5. Polly Put the Kettle OnOr in other words, have a plan for after dinner. My Nanny was my best teacher. After the dinner plates were cleared, she'd always pat my shoulder and say, "Polly, put the kettle on." So I'd head into the kitchen to make tea while Nanny arranged a game of Trivial Pursuit, Dominoes, etc. Your after-dinner plan can be as simple as tea, coffee, cookies, and conversation. Or if your friends aren't really talkers, plan a game. In Regency times they would put on a play! Think about the group you've invited and tailor your plan accordingly.