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Hostess with the mostess


Your holiday party how-to.

Malena Lott November 9th, 2011

I love to party.

I’m not talking about the lampshade-on-the-head sort of throwdown, but simply gathering friends under my roof and sharing my latest cocktail concoction to the sounds of classy Christmas tunes. But, what does it take to ensure your party doesn’t fall squarely into the fruitcake category? Real Simple magazine advises hosts to be gracious: greet each guest personally, get them a drink and make them comfortable.

Oklahoma City manners expert Hilarie Blaney reminded hosts to visit with all of the guests and not spend too much time with anyone. “Having helpers is important for taking the coats, et cetera, which allows you to be a host or hostess. This is a perfect time to enlist your children’s help, and they get a glance at being social, rather than playing with a technological device,” said Blaney.

Have a place for coats and purses, and, most importantly, set the mood by not letting on that the party prep has stressed you out. It’s a surefire way to a short party. And “never let them see you sweat,” is also literal: Set the temp accordingly. With more body heat in the room and those Godawful holiday sweaters, guests may get overheated. Consider hanging some Christmas lights on the patio or deck for guests who’d like to step outside for some fresh air.

And getting sloshed at your own party? Don’t. Save that for someone else’s party. (Kidding.) On that note, etiquette guru Peggy Post wrote in Good Housekeeping to stop serving alcohol to an inebriated guest (awkward, but necessary) and make sure he or she has a safe ride home. Remember to serve nonalcoholic drinks, too. Spiced apple cider and hot cocoa can be big hits for evening parties, as well as afternoon open houses.

As if this needs to be stated, Post warned against inviting a divorced couple, even if you are friends with both. The right guest list is important.

Food. That’s What They Came For, Right?
A party dies as soon as the last Ruffle is dipped in the French onion soup/sour cream mix. (Or spicy hot chocolate-covered bacon. See thecheapgourmet.com for a recipe.) When it comes to planning your holiday menu, make sure it matches the tone of the party. If they are wearing sequins, barbecue Lays may not fit the bill. For goodness sake, at least put your chips in a bowl. If it’s a party with kids (are you crazy?!) then kid-friendly food makes sense.

People expect a little glitz and glamour from holiday parties, so you might throw in a couple of gourmet items. Keep your guests’ dietary restrictions in mind. Please label foods so guests know what they are eating. This is especially important due to allergies. Staples include a veggie tray, cracker and cheese tray and fruit tray. Dress them up with dips such as Prairie Gypsies’ Gone in Sixty Seconds. They are easy but impressive.

If you really want to wow your guests, have your party catered. The OKC metro has many catering options, including The Prairie Gypsies, Aunt Pitty Pats, Rococo Restaurant & Fine Wine, Nonna’s Euro-American Ristorante and Deep Fork, to name a few.

No budget for a fully catered event? Indulge in a dessert and baked goods from a local shop. Ruth’s Sweete Justice, Sweete Memories, Ingrid’s Kitchen and Big Sky Bread Co. are holiday favorites. Serving cupcakes is easy on the hostess, and with delicious choices from Gigi’s Cupcakes, Sara Sara, Pinkitzel, Cuppies and Joe and Prairie Thunder, you’re sure to score some satisfied smiles.

Bring out new food options every couple of hours to keep people eating (especially if they are drinking) and the party hopping.

As for music, you may adore Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, but your guests may not. At the very least, put your playlist on shuffle so the tunes have some variety.

Sit. Stand. heel.
Don’t expect your party guests to stand all evening. Multiple seating arrangements are best, and the more guests you invite, the more open you may have to make your party. While some hostesses may not want their guests in the kitchen, too bad — that’s where people like to congregate. Don’t be surprised, even if you put the food in the dining room, if they end up back in the kitchen.

Line walls with extra chairs, but be careful not to make your seating arrangements resemble an intervention or a waiting room. Make it as natural as possible. Those party heels can get uncomfortable, so if you see a guest in stiletto pain, offer to move your conversation to a seated area. If it’s snowing or raining, Post says its fine to ask guests to remove their shoes while inside. Then you can laugh at whoever wore holey or mismatched socks to the party.

 
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