words by Sienna Nambuliey Barley
Hosting is undoubtedly one of my favourite things to do. Although the thought of hosting guests can induce stress, if executed well, it can be a very fulfilling experience. The most important question to ask yourself as you start preparing to host; how do you want your guests to feel? The trick to successful hosting boils down to personalisation. Making everybody feel special and catered to will certainly make your home the hub for a good time. Of course having a good budget makes it easier to go all out, but most times, successful hosting is about tasteful simplicity, confidence and human interaction. If you set precedence for a good vibe, then your crowd is well equipped to have fun and make lasting memories. Here are a few points to consider when hosting friends or family to ensure they have a warm and memorable time.
Set the tone
Organisation is everything. Make sure you prepare in advance so that you are not flustered by the time your guests arrive. I always create a custom to-do list so that I can allocate adequate time to execute each task. You want to be ready by the time your guests arrive so they feel welcomed to a warm and calm home.
You can choose to have an overarching theme to share with your guests. This may even include a dress code! Alternatively, you can create a theme with reference to the menu such as a Thai inspired lunch or a French brunch. You can also adapt your home décor to suit a specific theme that will go hand in hand with your tablescape. The options you can play around with here are exciting and endless.
Tableware and Tablescape
Image via Kirstie Veatch
Creating a tablescape is an exciting opportunity to tap in to your creativity. Depending on your theme, you can choose from a variety of linen napkins, table mats and cutlery. I am very intentional when I buy cutlery as I am particular about quality and getting multiple uses for multiple occasions. I recommend having flowers or rustic branches to add some greenery to the table. There is something about nature that just centres a table. You can also add candles to the tablescape which makes the table even more inviting! In terms of seating, you can allocate seats depending on the dynamics of guests invited or have free seating so guests sit where they feel most comfortable.
If you are hosting guests for a meal, find the most suitable location in your home environment to set up. If you have access to a beautiful garden, consider setting up under some shade if the weather permits. You could also choose to set up your dining on a balcony to have an indoor-outdoor kind of experience.
Depending on your guests music preference, create a playlist that will be befitting to the tone of the congregation. I suggest subscribing to a service such as Apple Music or Spotify Premium so that you can enjoy music without advertising interruptions. The sound should be set to an appropriate, subtle volume which your guests can enjoy but with consideration for neighbours, if any. Speaking of neighbours, you can opt to notify them of your guests should you need to get permission to occupy extra parking spots if parking in your neighbourhood is restricted.
Food and Drink
As a host, it is prudent to enquire if your guests have any food allergies or aversions. The same goes for drinks – do they consume alcohol and if so, what kind? And while you are at it, consider adding in some of their favourite meals and drinks. These little touches will make your guests feel seen and loved. Additionally, create a menu that is within your capabilities to execute and try to avoid experimenting with new recipes just to avoid any potential embarrassments. Alternatively, you can always choose to hire a private chef to cater to your guests which may help you focus on other elements of your hosting experience. If I use a chef, I prefer to shop for all the ingredients. This allows me to select the freshest produce so that my guests have the best. It is important to emphasise cleanliness standards when it comes to handling food. Food poisoning could literally spoil your reputation.
This goes without saying, but yes, your home (particularly your guest toilet) should be well cleaned before your guests arrive. Sometimes guests get lost (read: nosey) and wander about your house – you want to ensure your home is clean and tidy, just in case. Take time to regularly check that the lavatory is clean and sufficiently stocked with basics such as toilet paper. I prefer to use serviettes instead of a hand towel as it is more sanitary. A used, damp hand towel used for a few hours is definitely not appealing. Add a pretty basket next to the sink for guests to dispose their used serviettes after they have dried their hands. Always add a refreshing spray for your guests to freshen the lavatory after their use.
I always plan to hire help when I am hosting, especially large groups. Top on my list is usually a cleaner so that they help with cleaning the lavatory (if need be) and equally important, the kitchen. Nothing feels as good as coming back to a clean house, particularly, a clean kitchen after seeing off your guests. I love the feeling of finally putting my feet up, with a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate relishing the wonderful moments shared earlier with loved ones.
Any tips you want to share when you host? Please share in the comments below!
Sienna Barley is a lifestyle brand that was launched back in 2011 as ThreadMuse Culture. Eleven years later, Sienna Barley has transformed into a lifestyle platform on Instagram and Youtube that not only incorporates style and fashion but Sienna Barley’s other passion, food. Sienna Barley aims at showcasing the everyday life of a young stylish African woman through style and food content while also creating a platform for those who aspire and hope to be inspired!