5 Rules To Achieve Perfect Party Host Status
June 3, 2016
EntertainingParty DecorParty
After more than 700 weddings and parties under her belt, Nancy Liu Chin of NLC Designs knows a few things about planning a dinner party or two. But thankfully, you don't need that many events on your entertaining resume to become a perfect party hostess. Instead, just a few tips from the pros. Along with imagery from Kevin Chin, Nancy is sharing some of her go-to tips on how to be party-ready and kick booty doing it!
From Nancy Liu Chin of NLC Designs... The most important thing when it comes to planning a success dinner party is to remember that your guests are coming to visit with you. So, spend time with your guests. But how can you do that if you have food to prepare? If you are in the kitchen cooking away, I always ask, what's your guest doing? So how can you find ways to worry less about the food so that you can enjoy quality time with your friends? Here are my five tips.

Welcome your Guests with Signature Drink

Taking a cue from wedding planning, borrow the Signature Welcome Drinks that are so in fashion at weddings and large events and bring a little bit of that to your own party. If you are pouring the drinks all night, you'll probably be so wiped out that you might not have any fun by the time the guests leave. So the first thing I always think about is having a drink ready to go. By pre making drinks, you will save a lot of time and if you pour them in a fancy glass, it's a great way to welcome your guests to your party with.
Have one non alcoholic drink ready like this hibicus tea that is one of my favorites. I first had it in Puerto Vallerta at a small cantina in Old Town. When I stayed at the St Regis Punta Mita, I found that theirs was both tart and refreshing. It's a great drink for a hot summer day as it's not too sweet but still tropical. If you like Arnold Palmers, that's another great choice. A dark black unsweetened tea with lemonade is also refreshing. Serve them in a beautiful glass, after all it's the first thing you greet them with and you want to make a splash. For those who want to indulge, I love Margaritas on the rocks. It's both a drink that works well with food and a crowd pleaser. Plus, it goes well with my
"go to" menu ideas.

Make the Food Entertaining

Food at an event is part of the entertainment. That's what I've learned over the years. Have you not wondered why so many of us pull out our iPhones to snap images of what we're eating at restaurants. For small gatherings, it's the food that draws us together so menus that allow people to share, use their hands, and be part of the creation process makes it all the more fun. My idea menu for a warm spring or summer dinner or lunch includes a bright flavorful salad like a watermelon and jicama salad, fish based ceviche, build-your-own tacos, ice cream with fresh seasonal fruit and of course, my go to starter --- guacamole with chips.
Guacamole is a great dish to learn. First, it's because its a crowd pleasure. Secondly, it's a one bowl dish(not including the tortilla chips). Easy to clean up. Lastly, it's fast to prepare and doesn't need many ingredients.

I've been making guacamole the same way but recently, I learned from chefs at the St Regis Punta Mita their method. The key and secret is that making it in a Molcajete (the Mexican version of a mortal and pestle) gives it an earthiness. I'll be sharing their wonderful Guacamole recipe tomorrow.

Make People Feel Special

Through many years of observing weddings and designing events, I've witnessed what makes people feel special at an event or party. It really is in the little details because on some level, we all know what it feels like when we see someone make an effort for us. For a hostess to do something to make their guests feel special reveals much more than merely just saying it or thinking it. In our actions, we reveal how important that someone is. I learned this trait from my mothers as well. I've always known how special each child is to my mom for the way she remembers what they like to eat. These days, that thoughtfulness is extended to her son-in-law, Kevin Chin who captured these lovely images. When we go home for a family dinner, my mom will stock coffee Haagen Dazs Ice Cream for my husband because that's his favorite. (yeah, mom!)
For me, it's about personalization. A simple gesture like writing their names on a place cards or on a coaster goes a long way to making each guest feel they are unique and important. And let me tell you, your friends will not forget that. The writing doesn't have to be fancy or professional, mine certainly is not. For place cards, it doesn't even need to be on fancy paper. Try cutting stripes of pastel paper stock into thin stripes and writing their names with a fountain pen. Tie it like a cigar band around a napkin. Make it simple! For a coaster, I found some wood hand dyed ones. Using the colorful side, I added guests names to the coasters. It serves two purposes. One, it's pretty plus unique. Second, guests will be able to find their drinks! And lastly, no water rings!

The point is by making each guest feel special, you've probably won them over!

Set the Mood, Effortlessly

This part many might disagree with but I'm an event and floral designer, so I like pretty. I really do. First things before you make pretty, you got to declutter a bit so that you space is pristine and comfortable when your guests arrive. Cleaning isn't any fun but if you start with a blank canvas it will be so much easier.

Having a beautiful table isn't to impress anyone. (Okay, maybe your mother-in-law!) You don't want to try too hard so don't think you need to whip out a full blown professional arrangements with the latest flowers. Think small simple glass and a beautiful bloom or blooms. Perhaps even something from your yard. I have a plum tree in front of my house. Right now it's brown-reddish branches and leaves are stunning. Placing cut branches into white ceramic vases creates such an effortless but serene look. If you are lucky to have some bougainvilleas vines, I love using them especially for this Mexican themed dinner party. It's vines are long and lengthy so they can drape beautiful down the center on a long rectangular wood table. You add some green foliage to them and it's just enough to show that you can made something effortless chic.

Dish up the tables with candles, beautiful rolled napkins and plates that you can find at your local department store. I went for some everyday acrylic plates at Target as they are not only affordable but also hard to chip or break. It's affordability allows me to change up patterns for different seasons. Perhaps it's just a large plate that you buy, so that you can use it as a charger. Whatever it is, the pretty sets the tone. It tells your guests, is your party casual, formal, relaxed, romantic even. Making sure that your decor, food, drinks all have the same feel will only make the entire party so much more perfect.

Always Say Thank You

A perfect party host knows that you got to leave them knowing that you appreciate their time and presence. I like to leave guests with a little something. It doesn't have to be fancy. A small bowl of chocolates. Warm cookies in a bag. A pashmina wrap. Cigars for the guys. Make it playful and not too serious.

Whatever you do, it ensures that they won't ever want to miss one of your parties.
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