Tips for Hosting A Successful Party

Tips for Hosting A Successful Party


Easy food options for hosting a successful party include veggies & dip, chips & salsa, pita bread & hummus.
Easy food options for a group include veggies & dip, chips & salsa, pita bread & hummus.

Hosting a party is a great way to get your friends together. It’s a cheap night out for your guests, which is always appreciated. Keep in mind, it is a lot of work and cost for the host. The host should provide most food, entertainment, and party supplies (disposable plates, etc). Asking guests to bring drinks is allowed. Guests will usually always ask if they can bring something. Take advantage of this as a host if your friends are offering. When hosting a successful dinner party or movie night or game night or friendly get together, there are some key things for hosts to remember.


Assume that it will take an hour after the start time for everyone to get there. Things happen. Someone is running late, or gets lost, or has the time wrong. Give yourself some cushion by setting the start time an hour earlier than you first decided. That will allow time for guests to peter in, mill around, and chat.

This is especially important if you’re planning an event like a movie night or dinner party. If you start a movie night at 7p, don’t plan to start watching movies until 8p. Same goes for dinner parties. Don’t serve the food until at least an hour after start time.

When making your invite list, plan on half attending. People are busy. Not everyone will be able to make the date you set. Not everyone will be interested. That’s just the way it goes. You can’t take it personally. Do not invite thirty people then plan on making a dinner for thirty people.

I understand the “it’s better to be safe than sorry” rule when it comes to over planning. But this is a case where it really isn’t necessary.

Decide ahead of time if you’re okay with guests bringing friends. This way you won’t be put in an awkward position when someone asks.

Prepping & Cleaning

If you’re hosting a party at your place, you have to do some cleaning. This is one of the advantages to using private event space at bars/restaurants. You pay a price, but they do the cleaning for you.

You don’t need to do too much cleaning though. Just surface stuff. No one will be hunting through your closet so you are allowed to throw dirty laundry in there. Think about where people will be walking & standing. Where do you want people to be in your home.

As the host, you get to direct the flow of traffic and gathering spaces.

What is the weather like? Do you want guests to wear their shoes inside? If not, make sure to have a designated are for shoes (and a sign if necessary). Will people be wearing coats? Put extra hangers in the coat closet so everyone can hang up their coat. Or take coats into the bedroom as guests come in.

Will guests be bringing drinks? Clear a space in your refrigerator for beer. Clear a space on the counter for wine and wine glasses. If someone is bringing food, leave room on the table for it. If it’s a hot dish, ask ahead of time if it will be warmed up, etc.

Put food in the biggest room. This is where folks will mill about the most. Make sure plates/silverware/napkins are next to the food.

Clear off as many surfaces as possible so guests will have a place to put plates and glasses. Leave coasters around if you need to. You don’t need to clean-scrub as much as you need to clean-declutter. All that mail sitting by the door? Hide it away. Magazines on the coffee table, put them away too. Just pick up some of the clutter.

This may sound silly but trust me, stock up on toilet paper.

Seriously, don’t be the host that has to run out mid-party to get extra TP. Have extra on hand and even put a roll in an accessible location in the bathroom. Your guests will appreciate this.

Trash will accumulate very quickly during a party. Especially if using disposables. Take out the trash before the start of the party so you’re starting clean to begin with. Put the trash can in an easy location. Not under the sink. Put it next to the food if you have to. If you’re recycling, make it clear which trash is which.

Think ahead of what items you’ll need and keep them out in the open.

Most importantly, the wine and bottle opener should not be hidden in a drawer.


If you have pets, make sure your guests know this ahead of time. If any have allergies, they will appreciate the heads up. Have a plan for your pets if they become a nuisance during activities. I love my cats, but having to watch the door every two seconds or drinks on the floor can be distracting. Have a room ready with food/water/litterbox to keep them in if you need to.

If you have cats, clean the litter boxes before guests arrive.

Little is worse than your guests walking into the bathroom and being knocked over by the smell of a dirty litter box. In the same respect, walk your pup before everyone comes in.

Prepping & Making the Food

People like food and really aren’t that picky. The host will likely be much more sensitive about the quality of food than the guests will. Start with snacks out on the table as guests trickle in. After that hour or so, go ahead and serve the main food. Whether that’s food you made or just pizza no one will care.

When making some dips and appetizers, it’s best to do as much as possible the night before. This way you’re not trying to cook and clean the morning of the party. Many foods can be made ahead of time.

Easy snacks to start with are hummus, pita chips, chopped vegetables, and dips. Home-made is of course better but, really, no one will say much if it’s store bought. Really, people just like food. Other options include a variety of cheese, crackers, and meats. Here’s my favorite home-made dip, a jalapeno parmesan dip perfect with pita chips.

The easiest baked good snack to make for a get together are brownies. You can make these the night before. They take some time to bake but are less time consuming otherwise. Mainly since there is only one batch. And when they’re out of the oven, they’re done. Double the recipe if you need to.

Be classy when hosting a successful party and don't serve food in their original containers
Be classy and don’t serve food in their original containers

Serving the Food

Have some class and don’t serve food in their containers. Chips and dips can be poured into separate bowls. If possible, include a spoon with the dips. Yes, this will make more dishes for you at the end. But if you don’t want to wash dishes or clean your home, then you probably shouldn’t be hosting a party.


8 Replies to “Tips for Hosting A Successful Party”

  1. Also, at least half the party will find a way/reason to cram themselves into the kitchen. This is just a fact of human nature. Everybody breathes, everybody poops, everybody crams into the kitchen.

    1. I was going to add something about keeping the kitchen clean for this purpose. But it seems if all the food is out in other rooms, the kitchen is less likely to fill up.

  2. Good tips! The boyfriend and I are planning a little house-warming party in a few weeks (once we’re settled in) and there are a few things on this list that I would have over-looked. Thanks!

    1. Have a great party! House-warming parties are the best because are likely to be even more generous with drinks/food to bring.

  3. A lot of my friends are allergic to cats so I’m a neurotic cleaner before they come to visit. In fact, my friend Colleen thought we no longer had the cats the last time she visited because she couldn’t even tell we had them (from cat hair on anything), I was pretty proud of my cleaning abilities ;-)

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