{Day 3} 12 Days of Holiday Prep |BHG Entertaining Tips

by Mindy Lockard on November 6, 2013

Well friends, here we are day…

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This month I have the privilege of being featured in Better Homes & Garden magazine sharing some of my favorite entertaining tips!

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While the magazine kindly shared a few quotes in large print — always a fun way to see your name — not all of the fantastic questions they asked me made the print issue.

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So here is my entire Q&A with BHG!

Q: What are 5 (or 3) must-haves for a fun party:

A: A fun theme, clever details, relaxed host/hostess and a tray of cocktails / non-alcoholic drinks when guests walk in the door.

Q: The most memorable party I have ever been to had to be

A: This is tough because so many of our friends have treated us to such wonderful experiences. A couple of years ago my sister hosted a cocktail party where she selected five different cocktails and created stations complete with the recipe and ingredients for her guests to mix and mingle.

Q: What made it so special?

A: While I love casual parties, I do love any excuse to get dressed up with my closest friends and this was one of those parties. Sometimes formal events feel stuffy, but the interactive aspect of the cocktail stations got everyone involved and made for a memorable and event.

Q: What’s a great hostess gift?

A: I love to give creative hostess gifts within the theme of the party. Once for a Beer Pong tournament I made monogrammed ping pong paddles. The host and hostess loved them. Another favorite is to pre order monogrammed guest towels or to send flowers ahead in the color scheme of the party. The tradition of the hostess gift is to say “Thank You” for the invitation to the party, and by investing a little thought into the party and the interests of our our host/hostess we are sure to give a gift that says communicates gratitude in a truly thoughtful way.

The best gift I’ve ever received was a bag full of different kitchen tongs. Although unconventional and playful gift and this gift is one that I continue to use on a daily basis and always think of my dear friends

Q: Party music. What do you play?

A: I love to play music that fits the theme or sets the mood based on the genera. Typically I use music platforms on the web and stream it through the party space.

Q: Accidents happen. What party mishaps have you experienced?

A: Several years ago my husband and I co-hosted a holiday party with close friends. The centerpiece of our food table was a chocolate fountain surrounded by every dippable sweet you can imagine. Unfortunately, the fountain wasn’t free flowing and after about 20 minutes of  undesirable sounds and chunky chocolate dropping from the spout we disassembled it and served it in traditional fondue style. That same party, with our focus on fixing the fountain, for the first hour our guests were unintentionally served Hot Buttered Rum without the Rum. Needless to say, in the moment these mishaps can feel earth-shattering, but once the initial disappointment subsides they make the best memories. This particular party, even after 5 years, continues to put a smile on our face.

Q: Fool proof Ice-breakers:

A: Introductions. A host or hostess is the maestro of any party and mastering the art of getting people talking is best way to create a symphony of conversation. The best introductions are more than just saying the names of those you are introducing. A true introduction also includes a bit of information about each person such as how you know them or better yet, a common interest you know they share.

“John Miller, I’d like to introduce you to Sharon Smith. Sharon Smith this is John Miller. John you will be interested to hear that Sharon just received an award for her work with the United Way, and organization I know you have a long history with.”

This allows you as a host or hostess bring others together and walk away knowing that they have a foundation to build a conversation and not awkwardly talking about the weather.

Q: What makes a good host?

A: A good host plans a party as a gift to his/her guests. It’s easy, as a host, to plan according to our personal taste or with the desire to look like an entertaing savount. But sometimes this effort can backfire because we over do it and are stressed and exhausted by the time our first guests arrive. When the planning includes details that play to the interests and enjoyment of you guest list. This will leave the guests constantly surprized and honored by clever details you’ve added on their behalf.

Q: What makes a good guest/ guest list?

A: I say cast your net wide. Include people with a range of personal and professional accomplishments and varying interests. A colorful guest list will make for a lively and most interesting party!

Q: What’s your go-to drink/cocktail?

A: I love to empower my guests with a little DIY cocktail bar. This gives them something to do and frees me up to greet guests and make introductions. Sometimes I have a signature cocktail and other times a bar of different sized glasses, retro straws, juices, herbs, fruits, pickled veggies, sparkling waters and of course alcohol. From sweet to savory, everyone is sure to have a drink in hand that they will enjoy.

Q: What’s your go-to appetizer?

A: I’m often asked to bring my fruit and cheese platters. Typically I use an oversized platter or cutting board (only used for serving) and arrange it with seasonal fruit, and a variety of artesian cheeses, breads and crackers. I like to keep different heigths.  label the cheeses using corks or cheese markers. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating because it’s so simple, can be made ahead and can double as a centerpiece on a table.

Q: Any short cuts or time-savers? Advice on party prep or planning?

A: Prep, prep, prep! Having everything that can be chopped, prepped the day/night before. The best hostess arrives to the door with her lipstick on and a smile on her face. Greeting guests in a frazzled state can start a party with negative energy, especially when the energy looks like she has stuck her finger into an electrical socket.

Q: Advice for giving Toasts? I love toast! They are so festive aren’t they?

A: Here are five simple tips to ad

  1. As a host a toast of welcome happens at the beginning of dinner or when the food is served. A toast to the guest of honor typically takes place during dessert.
  2. Make eye contact when you clink (your glass), not when you drink. It’s creepy to see eyes peering over the rim of a glass
  3. When a toast is given to you, you can raise your glass but not drink. It’s like clapping for yourself.
  4. When a toast is given in your honor, it’s only gracious to respond with a reciprocal toast.
  5. Keep your toast short and sweet… and by sweet I mean nice. A toast should never be confused with a roast.

Q: What’s your rule for RSVP-ing?

A: My rule for Rsvp-ing pretty simple. Do it and in a timely fashion. Simply put, your host/hostess wants to know if you are coming so she/he can prepare for you. So don’t put off letting her know.

Q Fill in the blank: You’ll most likely find __________________ at my party.

A: I find food beautiful and love adding a playful element to how it is served. From finger sandwich kabobs to strawberry trees I love to double my food as decor. I also like serving in stations as it keeps the flow of the room moving saves me a penny on unnecessary decorations.

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