Learn all the best tips for hosting a party that everyone will remember and love. From decor and food to entertainment (and more), I’m sharing my favorite entertaining at home tips today. You’ll never doubt your hosting abilities again.
Today I really wanted to discuss some tips for hosting a party at home. Most of us love to attend parties and some of us even love to throw a good party ourselves. For some, throwing a gathering for family and friends may come very naturally. However, others may need a few pointers on how exactly to perfect the art of entertaining.
I’m here to tell you that’s completely okay.
Unless you grew up in a family where gatherings, large or small, were common and you were studious enough to take constant mental notes, you probably haven’t had much experience with hosting your own.
Maybe you haven’t had a reason to begin hosting until you purchased your first home, or perhaps it didn’t arrive until even later when your first baby made their debut in your life. Now you feel obligated to host at least some main events. You may even be excited about it, too.
This post is for those who have no idea what they are doing when it comes to entertaining and for those who just absolutely love to host gatherings because it excites their creative soul and they’re always looking for new ideas.
Why host a party at home?
Hosting a party at home can save time and money. Think about it. If you host in the privacy of your own home you can avoid a lot of things you’d have to line up and execute if you rented or reserved a space. I personally find it much more practical to host at home. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Huge parties may not be possible in a modest suburban home with a two-car driveway and limited parking.
That being said, most parties I host or attend are not large (though “large” is such a subjective term). Many prefer to host more intimate gatherings. And some people are just more comfortable in their own home.
Dinner parties are very popular these days and can often consist of just 3-4 couples total. Family birthday parties can sometimes only amount to around 15 or so people. Even holiday gatherings and showers don’t need to be exceedingly large. I’ve always had the philosophy that quality is better than quantity, anyway. Keep this in mind when hosting!
Here are some other pros and cons to hosting a party in your home:
- Convenient for set up and tear down
- More affordable–no booking venues or making reservations
- Less risk of damaging items–no transporting gifts, food, or decor to another location
- Familiarity for you and family
- Limited space, depending on the size of your home and number of guests
- You may have to do a little more work yourself
- You’lll need to clean before and after the party
Now, let’s get into the party hosting tips…
Tips for Hosting a Party at Home
Decorate the night before | tips for hosting a party at home
One of the best tips I have for hosting parties includes doing the decorating the night before the gathering. That means if you’re having your get together on Saturday afternoon, you should spend part of Friday evening setting things up.
If you have extra chairs or tables you need to bring in, this is the time to do it. If you’ll be setting up an elaborate charcuterie board covering the length of the dinner table, secure kraft paper and write names of items where they’ll be placed the next day to make things run smoother. If you’re adding a banner or blowing up balloons, do this that evening, too.
Doing these things a little ahead of time ensures ample time if things don’t go as quickly or smoothly as previously planned. It allows enough time to switch to Plan B if necessary. The day of, you can focus on getting yourself ready and finishing any food preparations.
Elevate simple food | tips for hosting a party at home
Another one of my favorite party tips includes keeping foods fairly simple. What I mean by simple is finger foods, foods that only require a few ingredients, or foods that only take a few minutes to prepare. That doesn’t necessarily mean your menu needs to be boring or that you need to serve all cold foods. Instead, think of ways to make them seem fun and fancy without much extra effort.
Here are a few ways I do this:
- For sandwiches, use croissants or homemade artisan-style bread instead of plain old buns or sandwich bread. Place a few spreads out for adding to plain meat-and-cheese sandwiches to give guests even more options.
- Serve vegetables or fruits as kebabs to make eating them more fun. This also allows you to create a prettier presentation and make serving them much faster.
- If you want fancier little hors d’oeuvres, don’t be afraid to purchase these premade. Making mini-sized items, especially quiches and puff pastries, from scratch can be time consuming. I love to purchase mini frozen quiche to serve when I’m short on time. Stuffed mushroom caps, spanokopita, and even kid-friendly mozzarella sticks or pigs in a blanket are great store-bought appetizers. Or opt for easy, low-prep cocktail meatballs or tortilla roll-ups if you prefer to cut costs and make easy appetizers yourself. There is so much flexibility here.
- Use beautiful serving trays to display your food. I love to use wooden platters or porcelain platters to set foods out. You can even add paper doilies underneath for a contrast and to add interest. Presentation is everything when entertaining.
Open up outdoor space | tips for hosting a party at home
Who couldn’t use a bit more space when hosting a party? Unless you’ve limited your guest count to six or have plenty of acreage with a 3-story farmhouse, you could probably use a bit of extra space.
When weather allows, I like to open up the patio for guests to relax. This could mean having a fire going in the firepit in the fall. Guests can roast marshmallows and make s’mores or watch a game on the projector.
In the summertime, cold drinks can be enjoyed on the patio with our blossoming garden in view. Sometimes we will even set up a lawn game or two–Grandma Vona likes to set up cornhole or badminton in the summer. This is a great way to keep kids occupied outdoors during a family-friendly event.
Maybe you have a deck or a sunroom attached to the house, near the kitchen or living area where most guests linger. Open this area for a little extra space, too.
Set the mood with music or games | tips for hosting a party at home
Sometimes we can forget about the power of sound. Whether it’s merely a television in the background with a football game on (especially in the fall season) or some light background music during an intimate baby shower, it can help keep things going.
Awkward silences are the worst.
It always feels more natural to have some natural background noise. I can’t speak for every type of gathering, but most of them could probably benefit from a little bit of music. Even for a larger party, it would be nice to have music for a little dancing if space allows. Or it could be on in the background during a game. It is so important to keep guests both comfortable and entertained.
Furthermore, games can go a long way. Typically, when I host a party there are only games if it’s a shower or a game night (or the occasional NYE party). I remember almost ten years ago when I hosted a fairly large baby shower for a close friend at the time. I actually created an entirely new game just for her and her baby shower. The guest of honor and I both agreed that most baby shower games are either gross, embarrassing, or just plain boring. (And they are always the same at every single baby shower. You can’t debate that.) So I created a game that was hilarious and entertaining.
All I know is that years later, she told me guests would still bring up how beautiful and fun her shower was. (I did go all out on making handmade decor, too, which made it even more special and memorable.)
Even if you don’t have the time or energy to create an entirely new game for a party, you can always get creative with new twists on old games or do lots of research to find the perfect one for your particular party. And hey, sometimes it’s the people who make the games so much fun. Just remember that before you stress too much about finding the best one.
Flowers for ambiance | tips for hosting a party at home
Unpopular opinion: Flowers are better than balloons. Okay, that’s probably actually a pretty fair statement. Most people love flowers over balloons any day, but sometimes they’re on a tight budget and just opt for the cheaper item. But I’ve seen a single $5 bouquet of flowers, styled simply and beautifully, make a bigger impact than $50 worth of balloons that took hours to blow up and create a garland out of…
Flowers can be dainty and elegant. They can be bold. They’re found in a vast array of colors and sizes and scents. There’s no doubt that there really are flowers for every occasion.
Don’t be intimidated by them, though. You can find affordable flowers (yes, they exist). There are simple yet stunning flowers out there. There are DIY arrangements you can create yourself in a matter of minutes in repurposed glass jars or thrifted vases. Trust me, it can be done on time and on budget. It takes a bit of creativity, but believe me they look so nice and guests will notice.
And if you just so happen to be head over heels for those big, plastic bubble-looking balloons, then by all means go for it. Just know that’s not your only option.
You don’t even have to buy flowers from a florist. They can be from a garden or a grocery store. Buy them in pastel or dark colors and then restyle them in a vase for a more stylish look. It’s as simple as that.
Set up stations | tips for hosting a party at home
Think: cocktails, snacks, gifts, activities, and/or leftovers. Yes, you read that right about leftovers! I’m sure we have all heard about setting up tables for gifts or setting up drink stations for cocktails and drinks to be made. But I recently saw a woman set up a bar cart with paper cartons, plastic utensils and containers with lids, paper cups with lids, and more. It was a leftover station for guests to pack up any leftovers they wanted to take with them.
We all know how it goes after parties–so many leftovers. There’s usually chips, dip, cake, sandwiches, and more for a week straight. Having a station set up is a great way to let guests know they’re welcome to take some food with them. And it makes it super easy for them to pack it up neatly without risking it spilling all over their car later on.
I remember spending about 20 minutes, at least, last Thanksgiving packing up various leftovers for numerous guests to take home. I barely had time to relax after the meal as people were coming and going. I wish I had known about this idea back then.
Having a leftover station already set up makes it clear that if guests want leftovers they’ll be responsible for packing them, but it is also very graciously already set up to make it very easy for them to do. This makes it easier for everyone. I will absolutely be using this entertaining tip in the future.
Small details make all the difference | tips for hosting a party at home
To some this may seem silly. I can just hear someone mocking,
“No one is gonna notice the fancy little bowls you put out.”
“You don’t need a tablecloth with all those platters covering the table.”
“Nobody cares about decorative napkins or whether they’re paper or cloth.”
I get it. These things seem frivolous. Especially if you aren’t the party planning type or you have a history of being the ultra-frugal hostess. But you know what… people do notice.
I get compliments all the time, not over elaborate tablescapes or huge banners/signs or over-the-top balloon arrangements. But over the million little details I add. (Okay, it’s more like a handful, not a million.) When put together, all these little details make a huge statement. Lots of small details make a big impact. This goes for any decorating, whether for a party or just your everyday home.
I get compliments about piping the deviled eggs instead of plopping the filling in with a spoon. I get compliments about adding some fresh greenery to the chandelier overhead. I get compliments on how I create a unique presentation–not how large or extravagant it is. These things really make guests feel like you went all out. It makes them feel special and welcome.
So, let your creative juices flow. Don’t be afraid to try something new and unique. Create something different. And if you need inspiration, look around in online spaces. You can always recreate a new version of someone else’s idea.
Opt for simple table settings | tips for hosting a party at home
Okay, we’ve talked about the food, about adding lots of little details, and setting the mood in the room with music. Is there anything that can be plain and simple? Well, of course. Technically, any of those things can be simple. It’s not about making it complicated, it’s just about paying attention and being intentional when organizing a get-together.
A table setting can be the perfect way to keep it simple yet elegant. Here’s some ideas I have for easy centerpieces/decor.
- Add a few tapered candlesticks added to candleholders and placed in a row down the center of the table
- A table runner with a small vase of flowers in the center
- A plain tablecloth with dried flowers sprinkled around the table before placing platters on top
Think ahead about parking | tips for hosting a party at home
This is one that folks often forget about unless they’re used to hosting parties with 15+ people all the time. If you have a driveway that’s already full of cars or just have a one- or two-car driveway with limited street parking, what is one to do?
I encourage you to create a game plan for the parking situation a few days before to avoid people having to park too far away. This could include your in-home family members moving their vehicles down the street for the duration of the party to allow guests to park in the driveway or directly in front of your house. Or it could mean asking your neighbors if guests can park in front of their home for a couple of hours that day.
Sometimes my husband will even offer to drive guests’ cars up the street valet style and pick it up for them when they’re ready to leave. We haven’t had to actually use this tactic before, but I love that kind of creative, five-star service.
Regardless, I encourage you to communicate the parking situation to guests if it’s tricky. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived at a house party where 30 people are crammed into a tiny home, parked all up and down the block, and I’m driving around for a few minutes wondering where in the heck to park my vehicle.
Plan for this. Especially if your street stays pretty packed with parked cars along the street. It helps prevent unnecessary future stress and allows guests to better enjoy themselves. You don’t want them to remember the parking situation out of everything at your party.
Get help cleaning before and after | tips for hosting a party at home
Cleaning the house for me falls on Friday anyway. If I’m hosting an event it is usually on a Saturday. Thankfully my normal cleaning routine already fits into this schedule well. However, on the day of the party, I usually ask my husband to do one last vacuum in the kitchen and living room in case any decorating or food prep creates some mess.
Designating someone to help out with little things can really help stress levels on the day of. My husband is also really great about helping me clean up afterward. And I am not letting all his high energy go to waste. I graciously accept his help with dishes or putting decor up or vacuuming again afterward. Having this extra help from someone can let you enjoy the event too. Highly, highly recommend!