Entertaining at Home: How to Maximize Comfort and Conversation

Third Stop: Maximizing Comfort and Conversation
On our journey to planning a Cookie Exchange Party

The invitations can be great, the food can be delicious, but you must make your guests feel comfortable. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your guests are comfortable, everyone is having good conversation  and your party is a success!

– Never place the food or bar near an entrance or exit. Guests always congregate near the food and/or drinks causing a block from the other guests trying to move about. Focus the food and drink in a central area such as the kitchen or dining room.

– You don’t need seating for everyone. If there’s nowhere to sit, it encourages your guest to walk around and mingle with everyone in attendance. The industry standard would tell you to have seating for a third of your guest list, but in the home, I would say half is safe. The key is to not aim to have a seat for everyone.

– Spread out the food and drink. When entertaining at home you don’t need to fill the kitchen counter or have one long buffet table. Spread everything around your home, one corner for drinks, another for food and another for dessert. This eliminates everyone crowding around the food and drinks, and gets everyone moving around and mingling.

– Section it off. Chances are your guest list is a combination of different people. Some people will like to sit and engage in conversation, others will like to walk around and meet new people. Try arranging different sections for your guest. A nice sitting area of a couch and chairs on one side, a clear area near the food and drinks for those who want to mingle and don’t forget the children, a nice clear floor area near a tv may be best for them.

– Help them help you. Even though you’re the host, you want to enjoy yourself too. Which for me means, eliminating the constant questions of, where do I throw this away?, Do you recycle? and the I can’t finds…. Have ample amounts of plates and napkins out and do a quick eye check every so often to see if anything needs to be replenished. Make sure you have everything in plain sight for guests. Your trash can should be in a central location, if you recycle place a nice bin near the trash. A tip for the recycling bin: put an empty can or bottle in there already, so your guests can catch the clue.

I’ll definitely be using these tips for my annual ” cookie party “, make sure you do too!

Cookie Party Planning Posts Here and Here.

Look out for photos of how I maximize comfort and conversation in my open concept home.

Next Stop: The Fun Stuff! Decor, Props and more…


Beyond the Essentials – Inspiration

Balloons are certainly not just for children’s parties anymore. They can add a festive yet still classy style to any event. With the new innovative ways of styling balloons, you have no need to worry about your event looking ” childish ” (unless you want it to).

Here are a few balloon style ideas for your next festive, yet classy event!

Choose your Use: Balloon Photo Backdrop, Perfect idea for a plain wall that needs an element of decor, or for covering up any unwanted parts of a venue. (photo: marthastewartweddings.com)

Perfect idea to create the guest of honors initials, or any other design you choose. (photo: connoranddavid.com)

Classic example of festive balloons used in the most classy way. The effectiveness of this display is pulled off by: (photo: floraldesignsbydara.com)

– Different height levels
– Contrast of balloons (opaque and translucent)
– Sticking with the color theme

Added wow-factor for a nice in-house gathering or get together.

Classy Style: This is done superbly by hanging balloons upside down, bringing all of the decor focus to the balloons and the use of various balloon shapes and sizes. (photo: marthastewartweddings.com)

Bonus! And if by chance you are looking for a balloon design for a children’s event….(photo: cheninboutwell.com)

Beyond the Essentials – Inspiration Thursdays

Adjective: shaded or graduated in tone: said of a color

Ombre is a great option when you don’t want to go into a full theme, but still would like a consistent color theme throughout your event.

Here are some inspiring pictures for your next ombre themed event.

(Photos: onewed.com, idolinens.com, nyholt.com, michaels.com ,marthastewartweddings.com)

“If you’re going to do”…Cocktail Reception Edition

The ” If you’re going to do ” post series provides a few tips on how to enhance a particular event theme or event piece. Whether it’s a corporate event, wedding, birthday party or shower, Cocktail Receptions are the ideal layouts for gathering, chatting and networking. Here are a few tips and ideas to have the perfect cocktail reception:

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionmake sure the venue has ample space.

Everyone loves to see a packed house, but keep in mind your guest count when choosing a venue. Guests should have enough room to roam about and mingle. A small venue will have the illusion of a lot of people, but an appropriate venue will make your guests comfortable and sure to return to another of your hosted events.

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionmake the layout comfortable for guests.

Cocktail tables are perfect for, well, cocktail receptions! They are just tall enough for guests to set down their drink and plate and converse but also don’t take up a lot of floor space. (Photo: www.thebridesofoklahoma.com)

The lounge style is also a great option for providing comfy seating and conversation areas. Lounge areas are perfect for the creative planner because it opens up the opportunity for high style, VIP looks to down home, living room looks. The possibilities are numerous. (Photo: lovewedd.com)

I suggest a combination of both. Cocktail tables for those looking to mingle about and a lounge area for those who want to have a seat, people watch and enjoy great conversation.

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionyour food and beverage should be accommodating for your guests.

There are so many creative ways to set plate and serve food. Shot glasses are a trend that has stuck around for awhile. Perfect for soups, dips and desserts, shot glasses are easy to hold and enjoy.

Skewers are a great serving option as well. They are easy to pick up and stay on the plate easily. If using skewers, remember to provide forks as well, most people like to slide the food off onto the plate for classier eating. (Photo:notesfromdionne.blogspot.com)

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionfood and beverage should be easily served.

Self -served or served by a catering staff, cocktail receptions food and beverage should be quick and easy to serve. Allow your guests the time to mingle, instead of standing in line. (Photo: tasteofhome.com)

– Have well placed and easy to read signage. Let your guests clearly understand the delicious treats they’re welcome to.
For the bar: Have a limited selection. Try having a signature drink and a selection fo wine and beer. This will cut down time spent at the bar. Not to mention your budget.
– Choose a menu with foods that are easy to eat with a small fork such as meatballs.  If the menu includes finger foods, try to keep to dry, not so saucy items such as mini egg rolls and quiche. There’s usually a lot of hugging and hand shaking.

Cheers to your next cocktail reception!

Multi-purposing to Save the Budget

If there’s anything I have learned working in the nonprofit arena, it’s saving the budget is essential. One of the best ways to save a budget is to cut down on the items purchased and try to get double duty of the necessary items.

Today I’d like to feature several tablescape must have’s that can be multipurposed to save the budget.

These wine labels are a great item!!!! (Photo: allthingsdiybride.blogspot.com)

To get the full effect
With these creative labels you have table numbers and your guests have wine to be self served throughout the evening.

The combo of the menu and place card is great!

There’s no need to purchase menus and place cards, when you can just combine them at the same time. So simple, it makes you wonder ” why didn’t I think of that? “. (Photo: Christinadasaro.com)

Next time you start stressing over the budget, take a few seconds and think about how you can multipurporse your essentials and desires.

And if you can’t think of anything, come on back and see what I have for you.

Thinking Outside the Circle – Square and Rectangular Banquet Tables

It’s time we start thinking outside of the circle. Often times when it comes to laying out our events and ordering our party supplies, we run straight to the traditional round banquet tables.

Let’s pull our seat out from the classic round banquet table and see what else there is out there for us.

A square banquet table provides for not only a different look and introduces your guests to something new, but it also adds to the ease of dinner conversation.

When planning corporate events, consider your attendees comfort. Laying out the venue with square tables and leaving one side empty of seating, allows for all of your guests to have a clear and comfortable view of the stage, without the table looking odd or empty. (Photo: Linzievents.com)

When I think of rectangular banquet tables, I think of family. Consider rectangular tables for your next baby or bridal shower. Anytime you want to feel the closeness and love of a family at an event, rectangular banquet tables are the way to go. (Photo: knot.com)

You can always mix it up, using a variety of square, round and rectangular tables for your event. For example, in my catering server day I staffed a very creative wedding, where all family and bridal party were seated at long family style rectangular tables, and the wedding guests were seated at classic rounds. (Photo: hostesswiththemostest.com)

Bonus! If you’re really “brave”, I found this wonderful idea of an octagon table. This is the perfect marriage between new shape and classic round. (Photo: Ellybevents.com)

For your next event, just take a few minutes and think outside the circle. You might just find a new look that is sure to wow your guests and maybe even yourself.