As the air turns crisp, many people’s minds tend toward entertaining. Hosting the holiday feast can be great fun, but anyone who has done it knows that it can be stressful. One of the best ways to ease the tension (and the workload) of being the host/hostess is to delegate.
Some duties are small enough that you can make a last minute request of a guest. For others, you might want to consider hiring some help or enlisting family members.
Here is my list of…
The Top 10 Tasks to Delegate When Hosting a Party
Contributing food or drinks
Just because you are hosting doesn’t mean you have to do all of the cooking. If you wish, invite guests to contribute by bringing a dish, a beverage or a dessert. Always be clear in your invitation by saying something like “We will provide the main dish and all the drinks. We invite you to bring a side dish to share.” AND, decide in advance where dishes will be placed when guests arrive (e.g. space in the fridge, a warm oven, or a dessert table.)
Answering the door & storing coats
This can be a good task for children or young adults. Ask them to…
– Greet guests at the door (e.g. “Welcome to our home”)
– Offer to take coats and move them in a designated location
– Direct guests where they should go after entering (e.g. “Please head through this hall into the family room”)
Serving drinks & cocktails
Designate at least one person who will be manning the bar and offering drinks. If drinks are “self-serve,” this person could primarily be in charge of clearing empty cans/bottles, refilling ice and keeping the area well stocked.
Tending the fire
A fire can be a lovely addition to a winter party, but if you have a wood-burning fireplace, it needs constant attention. It helps if someone other than the host can keep an eye on the fire and add wood as needed.
Filling water pitcher & glasses on the table
If the party includes a sit down meal, all seats should be given a full glass of water. Fill a pitcher and ask a guest to perform this job. Show them where to get ice as well.
Ask a guest or two if they would be willing to snap some shots during the event, and provide a camera for this purpose. Also, if you would like a group photo, be clear about when you’d like to happen… preferably NOT at the moment when the hot food has just been served.
Carrying and serving food
Consider soliciting help with putting food into serving dishes, carrying hors d’oeuvres around to guests, or bringing hot food to the table.
Dressing the salad
Dressing a salad is always a “last minute” job. Ask one of the guests to take ownership of this task, and show them where the salad utensils and dressing are.
Lighting/watching the candles
Candles are great but need supervision. Ask an adult to keep an eye out. If candles need to be lit right before sitting down at a table, be sure to give them matches or a lighter, and tell them when you would like the candles lit.
Saying grace or offering a toast.
Typically a host will perform this task, but you can also ask a guest of honor. Since some may be uncomfortable with speaking in front of others, be sure to ask in advance.
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Many of us feel like being a good host means “doing it all.” In reality, most guests are very willing to be of assistance if you will just tell them what to do. By having a few answers to “How can I help?” your party will not only be a success, but an event you get to enjoy.
What tasks do you often hand off when throwing a party or hosting a special meal?