We men still think of party planning and hosting as something the wife does, but entertaining isn’t just for the ladies. In fact, every modern gentleman who wants to make a real impression — be it on friends or colleagues — should be schooled in the art of throwing a good party.
Casual, formal, or somewhere in between, this is my guide to the essentials of hosting a memorable get together.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Hosting Great Events
Craft the Right Atmosphere
If you’re like most men, you’re probably not a big decorator. You likely won’t be visiting Party City and stocking up on confetti and streamers. That said, a party atmosphere still plays a big part in hosting a great event. Whether it’s in your home or at a venue, you have to craft a vision for what you want. That means taking a few things into consideration:
Number of Guests
This considers how densely packed your event will be, and that affects a lot of things. Too few will make the party feel sparse while the right number on the small side feels sophisticated. Too many is hot, uncomfortable, and crowded. The right large crowd is lively! Density affects how people stand, move, eat, and talk. You need a vision for your event and your space.
Flow of Traffic
Whatever your space is, remember that people need to move. Have you optimized it for traffic? While your home, for example, may be perfect for you, it might be difficult for a crowd to comfortably navigate. You may need to rearrange some furniture to make things work.
Every party has a mood. It’s the lighting, the smells, the sounds. You craft the mood based on the type of event you’re hosting. Make a playlist on Spotify. Light candles. Dim the room or hang festive lights just for your event. Only you can set the mood.
Be Intentional & Hospitable
Even though it’s a party and you’re supposed to have fun, always remember that you are the party host. That comes with a lot of responsibilities. It starts long before the party, with ensuring that your space is clean and well-stocked (plenty of TP in the bathroom, for example) and that you have more than enough good food and drinks for everyone.
Hospitality is more than physically providing for your guests, however. It’s taking care of your guests socially, too. When they arrive, greet them. While they’re there, have a conversation with them. Make sure to say goodbye and thank them for coming.
As host, you’re to pay attention to your guests. Do they need another drink? Need their plate taken? Would it be helpful for you to have a sign pointing to the bathroom so they don’t have to ask someone where it is? Watch for and consider these little details.
Guard Against Bad Circumstances
No matter what, as party host, you do not want any of your guests to feel bored, left out, or lonely while attending your event. It’s your job to help people feel involved, engaged, and included.
That may mean employing some subtle tactics to stimulate conversation or draw less social guests out. Ask for a hand in the kitchen from someone to mix up the groups. Introduce a shy guest to someone you think they have something in common with. Start a new topic of conversation that new people can chime in on. You have the power to manipulate the flower of conversation.
Some signs to watch? Look for people who constantly check their phones, play games on them, or tend to drift off by themselves. See how you can draw them back into the fold.
Plan for Interjections & Redirections
Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. As party host, prepare in advance how you can control a situation if it’s moving downhill. Maybe someone brought up a contentious, embarrassing, or inappropriate topic. Maybe talk got too technical and is alienating those who aren’t in the field.
Whatever the case, have prepared a way to segue into other topics to redirect and reinvigorate more appropriate party conversations. These are things you should prepare beforehand—coming up with them on the fly can be stressful.
Keep Your Party Spirit
As a party host, it can be all-too easy to take your role too far. Some gung-ho hosts become overbearing: topping off drinks before they were half-empty, trying to “salvage” conversations that were going just fine, or being openly apologetic and critical of their own event in front of guests when they feel things are getting stale.
A good host is attentive but relaxed. They know how to enjoy their own party. A gentleman and good host makes his guests feel warm, welcomed, and satisfied—they leave at the end of the night feeling full on good food, good company, and good memories.